By Ray Penny Jr., former USMC Captain

Like almost any jarhead, I wear my Marine Corps service proudly on my sleeve. Frequently, people stop to thank me for my service. I don’t mind it (except for the odd time when someone wants to know whether I killed someone). I usually try to quip back with something like “Well, thank you for paying taxes so I could shoot guns and fly in helicopters for free.”

Many of these encounters invariably lead into some sort of conversation about how more people should give jobs to all the hardworking men and women who decided to join the military when there was a war on. It’s a very noble idea, no doubt. But before you spring out and hire the first guy to come into your office with a crew cut, there are a few things you should know.

Incentives to hire veterans abound. Uncle Sam has offered a variety of different tax breaks to businesses who hire vets. Starbucks recently announced it would hire 10,000 new veterans, and even offered to pay for their education. You can’t swing a dead cat anymore without hitting a business advertising its willingness to hire a vet. But if there are so many opportunities, why is the unemployment rate among 18- to 24-year-old vets higher than 29 percent?

Civilian Life Takes Getting Used To

There are currently 573,000 veterans looking for work in America, according the Bureau of Labor and Statics, which is not an insignificant number of people, considering there are currently fewer people on active duty in the Army. When you realize that more than 2 million Americans deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan at some time in the past decade, your odds of getting a bona fide combat vet are fairly high.

While veterans are usually known for their strong work ethic, willingness to take on disagreeable tasks, and habit of working long hours, they are also known for other trends. It’s no secret that our marriages are failing, we can have short tempers, and we are often very blunt in conversation, all factors that can make someone a less than stellar co-worker.

I keep close contact with quite a few of my old Marine Corps friends, and my Facebook and Twitter feeds are often awash with stories of frustration and the old lament: “I wish I had never gotten out.” I’d be lying if I didn’t mention I too go home on a regular basis and gripe to my poor wife about how frustrating being a civilian can be. Although I’m not privy to the conversations, I’m sure my employer sometimes wishes I had stayed in the gun club, too.

Like buying a high-mileage used car, hiring a veteran can be a positive experience if you know what you’re getting yourself into. Here are a few small points of advice to ensure your first veteran hire doesn’t leave you stranded.

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