Some went to Afghanistan, some to Iraq. Most, however, went to both and most went at least twice. Time and again, military service men and women risked their lives, for months on end, in deserts and towns so very far from home. That was their job then.
This is now. The now when hundreds of thousands of those who served then are back home fighting a different battle—unemployment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently more than one million unemployed veterans. Couple that with the fact that over the next five years, one million more veterans are expected to leave the military and seek civilian employment and we are left with some staggeringly large numbers.
It’s not that these veterans lack skills or intelligence; they have those things. So why, then, are so many struggling to find work? The problem seems to come down to one thing: miscommunication. The disparity can be blamed on both parties—on veterans who struggle to translate their experiences into a language that employers understand and on employers who, by and large, have not done a good enough job of recognizing the value these individuals can bring to their companies. Veterans typically have an extraordinary grasp on key qualities like leadership, flexibility, calm under pressure, diligence and loyalty. Though these are laudable traits, they are often buried between the lines on a resume rather than highlighted.
So, in March 2011, the US Chamber of Commerce set out to help bridge this gap through a movement they call, “Hiring Our Heroes.” The inaugural push in 2011 sparked 100 job fairs across the country and this year, we’ll see some 400 fairs take place. These fairs (and workshops) are as much about matching employers with candidates as they are about educating both parties on how to speak the same language.
As important as the education piece is, it doesn’t mean much if there are no jobs available. To counter that, employers across the country are starting to make job creation pledges for veterans. Two of the larger corporate commitments this year come from NBC/Comcast and CapitalOne who have pledged to hire 1,000 and 500,000 veterans, respectively, over the next three years. Even the famed rock band Kiss has announced that they are looking to hire a veteran to be a set carpenter for their upcoming tour with Motley Crew.
Eyes have been opened on both sides of the issue and more and more veterans are gaining employment. There is still a long way to go (especially in getting smaller businesses to join in and pledge), but the wheels are turning and employers nationwide are choosing to standing up for the men and women who have stood up for us all.
If you are interested in reading more about some of the veteran-friendly positions we are trying to fill right now, please visit ivctechnologiesjobs.com. And, to find out more about the dates and locations of all Hiring Our Heroes job fairs, be sure search the Chamber’s event calendar.