Representatives Jeff Miller of Florida and Bob Filner of California hosted a Veterans Employment Summit in Washington on Sept. 13 to discuss best practices for hiring veterans in the private sector. The Legion attended the House Veterans' Affairs Committee summit to gauge hiring practices of businesses and understand more fully which practices have produced positive results for veterans.
Three presentations at the summit were "Benefits of Hiring Veterans," by Walmart and Edison Electric Institute; "Hiring Practices for Veterans and Mentoring," by American Corporate Partners and Prudential Financial; and "Metrics of Veteran Programs," by Microsoft.
More than 25 representatives from corporations and industry leaders attended the summit, held at the Cannon House Office Building. Attendees included Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc.,the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CSX Corp., General Electric Co., ITT Systems Corp., American Corporate Partners, and the U.S. Veterans Employment and Training Service.
Steve Gonzalez of The American Legion's Economic Division also attended the summit. He said the participants focused on some roadblocks employers face in hiring veterans, such as their own lack of tools and resources to identify qualified veterans who can fill their job openings.
"Many companies are committed to hiring veterans, but they don't have anything like a national data base that will match the job opening with qualified veterans," Gonzalez said. "That, along with the economic slump, problems with transitioning back to civilian life, a lack of a college education, and the private sector's continuing resistance to recognizing military training and experience, are all contributing factors to the high jobless rate among young veterans."
Gonzalez also mentioned that several participants reiterated that the licensing and credentialing of veterans in the private sector continues to be a major problem. "That's why the Legion has been working so hard on this issue. We have got to find a comprehensive solution that will enable our servicemembers to succeed after they leave active duty."
Additionally, the summit discussed the benefits of adding more veterans to the civilian work force: they are technologically savvy, quick learners, team players and highly reliable.
The American Legion's ongoing nationwide efforts to get more jobs for veterans was highlighted three times during the summitby Gary Profit, senior director for military programs at Walmart, byRep. Tim Walz of Minnesota, a retired Army veteran, and by Kevin Schmiegel, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Arepresentative of Prudential Financial, Inc., explained its sponsorship of a veteran recruiting program operated by Workforce Opportunity Services (WOS). Its mission is to work with academic institutions and corporations to provide work-study opportunities for younger veterans who enlisted in the military.
"The WOS program is an exceptional one that needs to be emulated by more private-sector businesses," said Joe Sharpe, economic director of The American Legion. "Not only does it recruit veterans and provide them with proper job training, WOS also tries to find jobs for them. Now, that's a step that many other training programs just won't take."
Several of the participants are already working with the Legion on hiring initiatives for veterans. "We are helping them to reach qualified veterans to fill their job openings," Sharpe said. "And we're also helping them to understand the high value of our veterans in the work place."
The American Legion is planning to host its own summit on licensing and credentialing early next year.