For some Maine businesses, hiring veterans is not only a public service, it’s good for business.

Sometimes the transition from military service to the civilian work world can take some adjustments.

Business owners, however, say the effort is worth it, and military experience can be good preparation for life afterward.

Jason Levesque remembers the exact date he left the military for civilian life: Sept. 9, 2001. He’d been with the U.S. Army for eight years, working as an infantryman and a drill sergeant, and had no idea what to do after his military service was done.

“One of the hardest parts of my life was leaving the military and transitioning to the civilian side of things,” Levesque said. “Things can go sideways pretty quick.”

Fifteen years later, Levesque is the CEO of Argo Marketing, a customer service group based in Lewiston that provides telephone, email and chat services to companies around the world. He credits much of his success to the discipline instilled in him by the Army.

“It’s a great breeding ground,” Levesque said. “It really does prepare you for a civilian career in almost anything.”

Jason Levesque, CEO of Argo Marketing Group in Lewiston, credits much of his success to the discipline instilled in him from his own stint in the military. Levesque says veterans have skills that can be very valuable in the workplace.

Jason Levesque, CEO of Argo Marketing Group in Lewiston, credits much of his success to the discipline instilled in him from his own stint in the military. Levesque says veterans have skills that can be very valuable in the workplace. John Ewing/Staff Photographer

As a business leader, Levesque makes a point of hiring fellow veterans. His company offers a veteran sign-on bonus, flexible shifts so veterans can continue serving in the reserves and adaptive technology that allows injured and disabled veterans to work from home. He estimates up to 30 of his over 400 employees are veterans, including several in upper management.

“From a business standpoint, they show up to work on time, they’re drug-free and they understand stress,” Levesque said. “Many of them have found themselves on the wrong end of a rifle or a roadside bomb. So they can easily put things in perspective.”

In September, the state launched its second Hire-A-Vet campaign with the goal of helping 100 veterans over 100 days to find employment.

The campaign is focused on connecting veterans with jobs paying at least $12 an hour, although this year’s job seekers are finding work with average hourly wages closer to $20, according to Steven Roy, coordinator of the Hire-A-Vet campaign.

This year’s campaign also aims to help veterans’ families find employment.

“We thought it would be a great idea because these family members are making sacrifices as well as the veterans and picking up all the workloads while veterans are deployed,” Roy said.

Last year’s campaign helped 259 veterans find work with more than 135 employers. Those veterans earned an average wage of more than $17.80.

Levesque bemoans the stigma attached to veterans returning to civilian life and the assumption that anyone who has served in the military suffers from post-traumatic stress or some other psychological injury.

“I think the worst thing you can do is look at veterans as damaged goods,” Levesque said. “They have skills that are unique and if applied correctly those skills can be extremely valuable. Employers in Maine right now are desperate for good quality workers.

“Managers are easy to find, leaders are very difficult to find.”

Joshua Broder agrees. Broder is the CEO of Tilson Tech, a Portland-based telecom and information technology company that builds systems for cellular carriers, utilities, government agencies and broadband providers worldwide.

He’s also a U.S. Army veteran, serving as a signal officer in Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. He was awarded the Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan.

Broder says he hires veterans because he knows that they come to him not only ready to work but to lead.

“I’ll interview 10 people for a management position and nine of those people will say things like ‘I like to work hard, I can manage, I can stay on schedule and budget,’ ” Broder said. “Only one will say ‘I want to lead a team.’ Chances are the person who sees that as a career objective is a veteran.”

Veterans also realize that their fortunes are tied to the rest of their team, Broder says. That’s a valuable quality for a company like his that evaluates employee performance based on customer satisfaction.

As part of that model, Broder says he has endeavored to bring on employees who show they are dedicated to each other and to the job.

“Our field staff is roughly half veterans,” Broder said. “We’ve worked really hard in our hiring selection process to find people who share that value of commitment.”

“People from the service come ready to hit the ground running and make a difference immediately.”

Michael Papp, general manager at Pratt & Whitney’s North Berwick parts center, which produces equipment for military and commercial aircraft, said hiring veterans was a natural fit for the company.

“I’m surprised how many people don’t actively go out after military guys,” Papp said. “They’re very valuable for us.”

For a company that makes equipment used in potentially life-threatening situations, Papp said, it’s comforting to know that the employees not only take that responsibility seriously, they’ve been in that position before.

“You can’t cut corners and that’s drilled in the military,” Papp said. “People from the service come ready to hit the ground running and make a difference immediately.”

Papp, whose son, sister and brother-in-law serve in the military, says supporting Maine’s veterans is a big part of his job.

As part of that effort, he created a veteran council at the North Berwick plant that works with wounded veterans, helps recruit veterans to work for the company and attends the funerals of any current or former employees, or their family members, who served in the military.

Every Veterans Day, Papp says, he and other managers serve breakfast to the company’s service men and women.

“I think there’s an obligation to give back and to thank people for serving and protecting this country,” Papp says. “I love it.”