Oshkosh Defense Tactical VehicleWhile Oshkosh Defense has supported the U.S. Armed Forces for more than 100 years by designing, testing and manufacturing military vehicles, the Wisconsin manufacturer also helps service members when it’s time for them to transition from military to civilian life.

We recently spoke with Kerry Rocole, vice president of human resources at Oshkosh Defense, about how the company supports transitioning veterans, and why it strives to employ as many former service members as possible.

Q: Many of the more than 3,000 team members at Oshkosh Defense served in the military. Why are you so active in hiring individuals with military ties, and what does the company do to actively recruit individuals with this background?

A: Oshkosh Defense views veterans as an exceptionally strong pool of talent that aligns with our core values and passion for helping former service members. Veterans provide us with varied skill sets and display a strong work ethic and leadership attributes. Many also have first-hand knowledge and experience with our products. Employing veterans has always come naturally to Oshkosh Defense. It’s part of our DNA—who better to design and build these amazing vehicles than those who understand firsthand the importance of protecting our service members?

As a company we actively recruit individuals with a military background by continuing to expand and improve our veterans’ employment programs, which include networking and partnerships with Veteran Jobs Coalition, Hiring Our Heroes, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, local veterans’ organizations and many other organizations that support our veteran population. We recently became the first company in Wisconsin to participate in the Corporate Fellowship Program via our partnership with Hiring Our Heroes.  The CFP is an amazing program that allows transitioning military talent to gain valuable civilian work experience during their final months of active duty. We welcomed our very first Fellow, James Stachowicz, to the Oshkosh family in January.

We leverage our very strong military employee resource group to support veteran talent acquisition and retention. Again, who better to support the hiring of veterans than those who have served?

Q: Why is it important for Oshkosh Defense to have the Military Friendly Employer designation, and what does it mean to the company to have that designation?

A: Every organization should strive to be a military friendly employer. Only about one percent of our population serves, and when they transition from military life, we as business leaders can put their unique skills and integrity to work for us. They make extraordinary employees—I’ve seen it first hand, time and again. To me, that’s just what it means to be a good corporate citizen—we support the people who protect our country, and we support the families who wait for them at home. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s perhaps the best way to thank them for their service.

Q: How can veterans translate their military background to what they do at Oshkosh Defense?

A: At Oshkosh Defense, we see veterans as critical additions to our workforce. My advice to veterans is that, whatever your role was in the military, rest assured your time in service has done great things to prepare you for a civilian career. As veterans transition, we see them bring along that same discipline, learning agility, teamwork, project management, mission focus and strong leadership skills that we want in our organization. Military accomplishments will be valued and connected to the important work we do at Oshkosh Defense to protect our military service members. 

Q: What can veterans expect when they work at Oshkosh Defense?

A: Veterans who come to Oshkosh Defense can expect to join a family of team members whose minds are on the mission, day in and day out. To say we take this work personally would be an understatement. We take great pride in the products and services we provide because we know their importance and who’s using them. You’ll see this on the faces of every team member in our organization. They can also expect the support of the Oshkosh Corporation Military Network that drives efforts to “Recruit, Rally and Recognize” our team members with military experience.

Q: What benefit do you think veterans receive from working with fellow veterans at Oshkosh Defense?

A: They will feel a strong sense of community and connection with our more than 3,000 team members, including hundreds who have served or are currently serving in our nation’s military, and thousands with family members and friends currently serving. Veterans and non-veterans alike share the same passion for our company’s mission–building the best tactical wheeled vehicles on the planet for our service men and women, so that they may complete their missions and return home safely.

We also have a deep connection with several large charitable organizations that directly impact those currently serving and their families, as well as retired veterans and their families. These organizations include Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), Fisher House Foundation, Disabled Sports USA: Warfighter Sports, Military Child Education Coalition, Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, Old Glory Honor Flight, National Guard Youth Foundation and USO Wisconsin.

Q: Why do you think Wisconsin is a great place for veterans to live and why is Oshkosh Defense a great place to work?

A: Wisconsin is a great place to live. There is always something to do, especially if you love the outdoors. Wisconsin residents often display a work hard, play hard attitude. They understand that there’s a time to get dirty and get things done and then there’s a time to relax with family and friends. Wisconsin is a great place to raise a family and Wisconsin schools are among the best in the nation.

Oshkosh Defense provides great, meaningful employment. Our team members take great pride in the products and services we offer because we know who’s using them and the importance of the missions in which they serve. Our veteran employees can vouch for that.

Veterans interested in career opportunities at Oshkosh Defense may also learn more about the company’s culture, education offerings and benefits.