BUSINESS INITIATIVES HELP VETERANS FIND JOBS
This article appears in the April VFW magazine
April 02, 2013
Servicemen and women separating from the military often find
themselves in the daunting cycle of job hunting. Many find it difficult to
translate their military skills into the civilian market, while others are
stonewalled by employers unsure of what to do with vets.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average
annual jobless rate for Afghanistan and Iraq War-era vets during 2012 was 9.9%.
But there is good news. According to the Institute for
Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, there is an
estimated 600,000 advanced manufacturing jobs unfilled in the U.S. More than
82% of manufacturers report they cannot find people to fill their skilled
production jobs. Furthermore, up to 2.5 million manufacturing jobs will open up
within five years as older workers retire.
Mike Haynie, executive director and founder of IVMF, says
that by 2020, the industry will need 10 million more new skilled workers.
In an effort to match veterans military skills with civilian
jobs in manufacturing, four companies partnered with the Manufacturing
Institute—a non-profit branch of the National Association of Manufacturers.
Alcoa, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Electric are
pooling their resources to help 15,000 vets transition to manufacturing
Combined, these four companies currently employ about 64,000
Rick Stephens, a Boeing
senior vice president and Marine Corps vet, said that Boeing has hired 3,000
veterans in the past two years (2011-12) using many of the same tools as this
“We believe this
initiative could have a major impact on the hiring of veterans nationwide,”
Stephens said. “It’s a proven approach for matching the skills of those who
have served our country to the hiring needs of American businesses.”
Known as Get Skills to Work,
this program has three main components:
skills training prepares veterans whose military service doesn’t
immediately qualify them for available manufacturing jobs. Through the
Manufacturing Institute’s Right Skills Now
program, training sites will open across the U.S. in 2013. The first class of
veterans was enrolled in January at Cincinnati State Technical and Community
“Working with our partners, we will help create real opportunities for
veterans to get the skills they need to access in-demand manufacturing jobs,” said Jennifer McNelly,
president of the Manufacturing Institute.
military experience into civilian opportunities is made possible by
a digital badge system supported by the U.S. Manufacturing Pipeline. This
centralized online hub connects manufacturing employers with veterans based on
one’s military occupational specialty, as well as personality traits and work
• Creating awareness for employerswho want to hire veterans is done through the use of a toolkit,
developed in part by IVMF. Employers will be provided with proven practices
from more than 40 businesses that are skilled at recruiting, hiring and
mentoring vets in the workforce.
“Veterans offer the technical, leadership and critical
thinking skills that advanced manufacturing demands,” said Paula Davis,
president of the Alcoa Foundation. “Forming the Get
Skills to Work coalition and coordinating with nonprofits to train,
recruit and develop veterans is an exciting model that has the potential to
for more information.
And this is just one program under way to help veterans land
on their feet in the civilian world.
Rail Industry Seeks Vets
According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR),
some 500 companies and organizations in the railroad industry sought to hire
about 5,000 veterans in 2012. These companies include freight, inter-city
passenger and commuter railroads, as well as rail supply companies. As a
growing number of current railroad employees look toward retirement, the number
of job openings will begin to rise in future years.
“Today, roughly 23% of the railroad workforce is
eligible to retire by 2015,” Ed Hamberger, president of the AAR, said.
Ray LaHood, former U.S. Department of Transportation
secretary, said that one quarter of the industry’s current employees is
“Our veterans have the skills and real-life experiences that
we need to help rebuild America,” he told CNN last year.
LaHood highlighted the overlap in personal traits and skill
sets of railroad employees with military servicemen and women. He added that
veterans have “disciplined” backgrounds, with special capabilities and
qualities that are uniquely suited to help keep freight railroads efficient and
“It’s a great mesh of their characteristics and leadership
learned in the armed forces,” Hamberger said. “It’s a win-win.”
In 2012, Norfolk Southern was named one of the most valuable
employers for discharged military personnel by CivilianJobs.com.
Throughout the past six years, the company has hired more than 1,300 veterans.
Today, about 14%—or 4,260—of the total Norfolk Southern employees are veterans.
The company also launched www.NorfolkSouthern-veterans.jobs,
which allows veterans to search for railroad employment opportunities using
their military job titles.
To find out what job in the railroad industry is best suited
for you or someone you know, check out the AAR’s military skills translator at www.aar.org/jobs/Document/SkillTranslator.pdf. Veterans
also can visit the Veterans Transportation Career Center sponsored by VA and
the Department of Transportation at www.dot.gov/veteranstransportationcareers.
85,000 Hired in One Year
Sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hiring Our Heroes has coordinated an ongoing series
of job fairs since March 2011. Some 400 job fairs have occurred in two years.
Each is focused on helping veterans and their spouses find work.
Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of
Commerce, says that military veterans make the best employees.
“Veterans learn how to lead and be led,” he said. “They
learn how to deal with difficulties.”
Through the job fairs, more than 14,000 vets and spouses
have landed jobs.
The program went one step further and launched the Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign to engage the
business community in committing to hire 500,000 veterans and military spouses
by the end of 2014. Thus far, more than 800 businesses of all sizes have
pledged to hire 182,000 veterans toward this goal, with 85,000 hired since
For a list of upcoming job fairs, visit www.uschamber.com/hiringourheroes.
Wal-Mart to Hire More than 100,000 Vets
In January, Wal-Mart announced a plan to hire “every
veteran who wants a job,” as long as the veteran has left the military in the
previous year and has an honorable discharge.
The program, which officially begins on Memorial Day, May
27, should see the hiring of 100,000 veterans in the next five years, the
length of the commitment.
“Let’s be clear: Hiring a veteran can be one of the best
decisions any of us can make,” William Simon, the president and CEO of Wal-Mart
U.S. said. “These are leaders with discipline training and a passion for
Currently, about 100,000 of the company’s 1.4 million
employees in the United States are veterans.
The nation’s largest
private employer, Wal-Mart is not guaranteeing full-time employment to every
eligible veteran. But at the very least, part-time, according to Gary Profit, a
retired Army brigadier general who is senior director of Wal-Mart’s military
“If you’re a veteran and you want a job in the retail
industry, you have a place at Wal-Mart,” he said.
Franchises Offer Veterans a Break
Opportunity, sponsored by the International Franchise Association, aims
to get vets jobs and into franchisee ownership. Specifically, 75,000 spots are
available for veterans and military spouses and another 5,000 for disabled vets
Since the program’s November 2011 inception, some 64,000
vets and spouses have found careers in franchising, including 4,300 new
Charlie Hall, owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing in southern
Colorado, found that hiring a veteran is beneficial to his franchise. In 2011,
he hired Brandon Scherer, a wounded Afghanistan veteran.
“He’s good with orders,” Hall said. “He takes them and
follows them to the end. He’s doing well, and his injuries don’t affect the job
A study for the franchise association’s educational
foundation found that one out of every seven U.S. franchises is owned by a
veteran. More than 66,000 veteran-owned franchise businesses in the U.S.
provide jobs directly for 815,000 Americans, the study concluded.
Visit www.vetfran.com for
a complete list of participating franchises and for more information on how
they can help veterans find employment in a variety of industries. Some
franchises waive licensing fees or offer discounts for veterans, as well.
Debunking Employer Fears
Last November, the Army’s Warrior Transition Command
(WTC) partnered with the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and
Orion International to launch the Hire a Veteran
This initiative is for
employers who are trying to find veterans, as well as what their legal
responsibilities might be under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
According to a survey conducted by SHRM, 52% of employers
say veterans are likely to struggle with the “transition from the structured
and hierarchical culture in the military to a civilian work environment.”
The survey further found that 43% of employers say
post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) are
potential challenges when hiring people with military experience.
“We’ve realized that we need to help prepare employers and
HR professionals and ensure that their concerns aren’t a deterrent to employing
these great veterans,” Brig. Gen. David Bishop, commander of the WTC, told Army Times.
This initiative includes a 10-minute video for human
resources professionals and employers and an online toolkit available for
download at www.WTC.Army.mil.
Success stories of soldiers who recovered in Warrior
Transition Battalions (WTB) and went on to find success in the civilian world
are included as well.
One such story is that of Paul Roberts, who suffered second-
and third-degree burns and TBI while in Afghanistan. While in a WTB, he
prepared his resume and landed an internship with the Drug Enforcement Agency
before getting a job offer from the FBI.
“The internship with the DEA taught me that even though I’m
a little bit slower, I’m still a valued part of the team,” Roberts told Army
News Service. “My experience in the Army is what makes me valuable, and I still
have the ability and desire to learn.”
Jeff Pon, the SHRM chief strategy officer, said there are a
lot of misconceptions regarding veterans in the civilian workforce, and he
hopes this campaign can rectify some of those notions.
“The first step for employers is to understand that not all
vets need accommodations, and if they do need accommodations, sometimes it is
easily made,” Pon told Army Times. “PTSD is
severe in some and not so severe in others.”
With 1 million personnel expected to transition
from the military to civilian life in the next five years, it’s safe to say
that these initiatives and others will continue to expand.
BACK TO NEWS >