With the ever-increasing number of veterans in the workforce, formalized veteran hiring and retention programs have started showing up on the radar of defense, law enforcement and private organizations. Many law enforcement and defense organizations already hire veterans, but how do you formalize the process, and why should you?

Like any project, it helps to have a vision of what you want, a few role models to follow and some concrete steps to take action. In this article, we will start at the top, by talking to the leader of an organization recognized for success in this area.

Gary Herbold is chairman of Amerit, and like many of his employees is also a veteran. I connected with Herbold to find out more about why and how he started Amerit Fleet Solutions and to learn more about what keeps him focused on making veterans a consistent part of their business plan.

How does the model for Amerit Fleet Solutions support your drive to support veterans?

"Coming from a background in strategic business process outsourcing and workforce management, we believed that there was a tremendous opportunity to provide a different kind of maintenance service program to corporations with fleets of vehicles across the country. Focusing on creating services that are tailor-made to fit their needs that also brought standardization to multiple locations across the country has proven to be very successful for us, our client partners and our employees.

"Personally, I knew that we could provide veteran jobs across the board and across the country. Currently, we have veterans in all levels of the company and provide opportunities in all areas for both disabled and nondisabled veterans."

What are your guiding principles to ensure veterans are part of the business plan?

"Many of these veterans have been dodging bullets and grenades for some time, but now have to face land mines of a different kind: finding work. As a Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE) and as a veteran myself, I understand the hardships of transitioning from combat to civilian life.

"Woven into our corporate culture, we believe that military veterans are the perfect candidates to hire. We recognize their unique qualities, character and work ethic developed through their military experience. We take pride in supporting our country's military veterans and providing them with opportunities after serving our country.

"As one of our goals, we strive to lead the industry in veteran employment. We have supported this with the development of our Veterans First program, our initiative to source and recruit veterans initially for open positions, providing them with a meaningful, rewarding and financially-gratifying employment opportunity.

"The California State DVBE Program gave me the entrepreneurial employment opportunity I never thought possible, and it is my obligation and truly my honor to give back to our returning veterans."

In short, it started with a belief that veterans are a valuable asset within the applicant pool and a commitment to do something to access that asset. With a commitment in place, it is important to understand how the skills of veterans align with the skills needed in your organization — and not just the hard skills, but also the softer skills like a quick learning curve, willingness to travel and the unique work ethic borne from serving in uniform.

The California Employer Advisory Council (CEAC) has recognized Amerit Fleet Services as a Veteran Employer of the Year for 2014. The award, created in partnership with the CA Employment Development Division, recognizes organizations that consistently go the extra mile to hire, retain and promote veterans.

With this vision in mind, what next steps will you take to access the large pool of talent transitioning from our armed services?