One year ago in this space, I contributed an article chroniclingthe tragically high unemployment rate among returning veterans. Asa veteran myself, I offered my insider's point of view as to whyveterans should be considered highly desirable prospectiveemployees.

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Although employment among veterans remains an urgent issue,great progress has been made. According to the federal government,businesses have hired or trained nearly 300,000 veterans andmilitary spouses during the past two years. Although theseorganizations deserve our high regard and praise, they have alsosmartly acted upon sound business principles. Veterans of the U.S.military return to America as members of a uniquely cohesive,dedicated and skilled team. The skills developed and the ethospracticed in the military are universally deployable to workplacesacross America, to help build individual businesses and fuel oureconomic recovery.

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To help build on this success, Washington has launched a“JoiningForces” initiative to hire an additional 435,000 veterans andmilitary spouses. This initiative to ramp up veterans' hiringefforts calls attention to a pressing challenge: more than 1million men and women who committed themselves to our nation'sdefense are set to leave the military during the next 5 years.

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Following are some well-known organizations who have pledgedsupport to this initiative by committing to veterans and militaryspouses hiring efforts. By calling attention to theseorganizations, I hope we can all be inspired by their example. Itgives me great pleasure to list as the first of these companies aninsurance underwriter.

  • USAA, headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, hashired 6,000 veterans and military spouses since 2005. The companyis planning to add 1,000 more–30 percent of new hires–during thenext three years. These motivated, disciplined and dedicatedworkers will add significant value to this organization and ourindustry. As a USAA client for more than 30 years (even thoughI own an agency), I can attest to their operational excellence incustomer service and support.
  • The Home Depot has stated a goal of hiring55,000 veterans and military spouses. With nearly 2,250 stores,this is nearly 25 veterans and military spouses per store. Ipredict we can all expect even better service next time we prowlthe aisles for kitchen faucets, duct tape and weed whackers.
  • UPS has committed to hiring 25,000 veteransand military spouses. UPS operations will become even moreefficient as former military personnel transfer their intenselogistical training and go from “green or blue” to “brown.”
  • ATT and BNSF Railway haveeach committed to hiring 5,000 veterans and military spouses.
  • Wal-Mart has made a commitment as large as itsretail store footprint. Management has stated the firm will hireany veteran, who served honorably, the year after he/she leaves themilitary. Because much of Mal-Mart's success can be creditedto brilliant supply chain management, operational skills theseindividuals gained in the military will be hugely valuable.
  • Comcast made a public commitment to hire 1,000veterans within two years in March 2011. They blew away thegoal and re-committed to hiring another 1,000 by 2015. Theyare active participants in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce“Hiring Our Heroes” campaign.

When considering veterans for employment opportunities, it canbe useful to remember the particular challenges they face.According to a report co-sponsored by another underwriting company,Prudential, more than two-thirds of veterans list “finding a job”as their greatest challenge in transitioning from military tocivilian life.

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Veterans also consider transferring military skills to acivilian environment as being a major hurdle to finding ajob. In fact, 60 percent of returning veterans consider it achallenge to explain how their military experience translates toskills of interest to a civilian employer.

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Returning veterans, as well as their families, have contributeda great service and sacrifice to we who remained behind. Bycreatively visualizing how skills veterans learned in the militarycan be translated to the workplace, we can help to fulfill oursense of gratitude towards them. Veterans' inability toexplain what they can contribute does not exempt us fromour obligation to understand what they can contribute.

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Memorial Day is for remembering all those who wore the uniformand gave their future for our today.

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To source returned veterans for your company, contact your localUSO and service organizations. Following are a few additionalrecommendations:

  • To find out more about Joining Forces, go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces/get-involved.
  • The Veterans Job Bank provides veterans with a central sourcefor identifying veteran-committed employment opportunities andassists companies in identifying qualified veterans. It alsoreturns job opportunities based on search criteria entered by thejob applicant. Powered by a Google search, jobs are drawn fromvarious job boards that have posted or specifically tagged jobs forveterans. To learn how your firm can add your job listings to theVeterans Jobs Bank, visit the Instructions for Employer Participation page.
  • The National Resource Directory (NRD) has also created theVeterans Job Bank Widget. This utility allows Veterans to conduct ajob search without leaving your website. You can get the VeteransJob Bank Widget for your website by visiting the JobSearch Widget page.

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