For most Americans, Veterans Day is a time to reflect upon and honor the men and women who have served in the armed forces of this nation. At Hiring Our Heroes, we strive to improve the lives of these men and women year-round, but we recognize that Veterans Day presents a unique opportunity for our program. It is an opportunity to highlight the sacrifices made by the small percentage of Americans who wear the uniform and the challenges they face each and every day as they transition back to their civilian communities. Their search for post-military employment can be especially difficult.
We were able to highlight those challenges last week as part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Annual “Salute to Veterans.” The event kicked-off with comments from the Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez. I also participated in a panel discussion featuring Medal of Honor recipient Sgt. Dakota Meyer and former U.S. Representative and Army veteran Patrick Murphy. The one consistent theme heard time and again: we have made significant improvements for veterans and military spouses in the job market, but we have a long way to go as we will see unprecedented numbers of servicemembers and military spouses who will make the transition from the military over the next five years.
The positive trends in veteran employment, of course, are evident from recent unemployment data. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, veteran unemployment continues to decline in every segment of the veteran population. American businesses have truly stepped up to add veterans to their workforce and reap the benefits of military talent. These businesses recognize that hiring a veteran or military spouse is not just the right thing to do; indeed, it is the smart thing to do for their businesses.
Yet, our collective work is far from over. America will see unprecedented numbers of servicemembers transitioning from the military over the next five years as we drawdown in Afghanistan and the Pentagon faces smaller budgets. In fact, we can expect somewhere between 280,000 and 300,000 service members to transition each year for the next five years—that represents a 30% increase over the normal rate. Nor does it include the hundreds of thousands of military spouses who also will need jobs.
On Veterans Day, we ask the American business community to think how they can continue and/or expand their efforts to hire veterans and military spouses. Here are a few ways that employers can develop or enhance their veteran and military spouse hiring practices.
- Commit to Hiring 500,000 Heroes – In March 2012, through a partnership with Capital One, we launched a nationwide initiative called Hiring 500,000 Heroes to help half a million veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful job opportunities. Even if you made an initial commitment, think whether your business can increase that commitment based on the number of veterans that already have been hired.
- Sign up for a Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair – Sign up to recruit at one of our fairs, held exclusively for veterans and military spouses. Come and meet the men and women who have served our country and now want to bring their skills to your workplace.
- Search for Candidates Online – Access a free database of qualified veteran and service member resumes with the Personal Branding Resume Engine’s Employer Search feature. Created in partnership with Toyota, the Resume Engine allows you to search by location, job-level, or keyword to find the candidates your company needs.
- Post Open Positions Online – Fast Track is an interactive map developed with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University that shows the 100 fastest-growing job markets in America. Veterans, service members, and spouses use this tool on a daily basis to find employment. Use the Fast Track tool to post your jobs and receive applications from some of the top men and women this country has to offer.
- Become a Mentor – Consider mentoring a veteran or military spouse through our eMentor Leadership Program as they are seeking advice about the next steps to take in looking for a job or planning a career after the military. No military experience is required.
- Volunteer at an Employment Workshop – Volunteer to be a career coach. We’re hosting employment workshops at hundreds of our fairs in the coming year. Meet one-on-one with veterans and military spouses to provide feedback on their resumes and conduct mock interviews.
Do not miss this chance to welcome these well-trained and battle-tested leaders back into your schools, businesses, and communities. Visit hiringourheroes.org today to find out more about these programs and to find the veterans and military spouses who will take your business to the next level.