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The Military & the OSH Profession

Rixio Medina, CSP, CPP, 2018-19 ASSP President
Apr 01, 2019

Rixio Medina-BOD_2018Military personnel encounter a wide range of occupational hazards. Some are similar to those found in nearly any work environment while others are unique to military activities or are heightened by the location and circumstances surrounding the work.

Our Military Branch, a member community within our Public Sector Practice Specialty, supports OSH professionals charged with identifying, eliminating or reducing these hazards to protect those who serve our country here and abroad. We currently have more than 1,000 members within this group. Those who are active duty personnel or military reservists on active duty pay reduced dues and receive free membership in the branch.

Leaders of this group engage with personnel from all U.S. military branches on technical topics such as operational, fleet and off-duty safety. Our group also provides networking opportunities, hosts conference calls and facilitates mentoring relationships. You can learn more at

We also continue to actively engage leaders of all U.S. military branches. This outreach has led to a stronger ASSP member presence within the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy in particular, and we see interest from all service branches in learning more about how ASSP involvement can improve safety for their service personnel everywhere. Military representatives also participate in some of our standards development activities, and military personnel with safety roles continue to seek our advanced training and education.

Veterans: Potential Talent Pool for the OSH Profession

In addition to supporting our members’ efforts to protect service personnel, I’d like you to think about the potential role that those separating from the military might play in growing our profession and ultimately improving workplace safety.

Each year, an estimated 250,000 service members transition from active duty to civilian life, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. These individuals often possess skills that are highly desired by employers, everything from entrepreneurial spirit, high levels of trust and organizational commitment to advanced technical training, resiliency and team-building experience. According to the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), these characteristics can provide a “rare, valuable and differentiated” competitive advantage when properly aligned with an organization’s core processes, practices and strategy.

Veterans also know about safety. Their lives and the lives of their fellow soldiers often have depended on their sound decision-making ability and keen situational awareness. In addition, their time interacting with diverse cultures in diverse settings has sharpened how they perceive risk in a multitude of environments.

All of these skills and attributes align well with our profession. We also know that our profession inherently offers something that many veterans want from their next role in life—the meaning and purpose that come from protecting others from harm.

Tapping into this talent pool really starts at the local level. Whether through our ASSP chapters, civic organizations, or local schools, colleges and universities, many of us work to promote OSH as a rewarding career choice. As part of those efforts, I encourage you to also reach out to veterans and veterans’ groups in your communities to help them understand the types of jobs and careers available in occupational safety. Be sure to tell them about the scholarships available through the ASSP Foundation, including several specifically for military veterans.

You can also encourage your employers to consider the business value of hiring veterans. Groups such as the Veteran Jobs Mission, U.S. Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and IVMF offer many resources on this topic.

Across diverse industries, occupations and settings, ASSP members work steadfastly to help all employers develop systems and practices that enable people to work safely and productively. I thank each of you for your continued commitment and dedication to our mission and our values.

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