Hiring Our Heroes – Jobs for veterans and military spouses
Greetings from the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), our Army’s and our soldiers’ professional organization.
Looking back over the past several years, we can all be proud of the combined efforts of the Army and our nation to focus on the successful integration of veterans back into the civilian sector and contributing to the good of the nation.
Embraced by the Army’s Soldier for Life program, one of these successful efforts to support veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses finding meaningful employment opportunities is the Hiring Our Heroes program.
Launched in March 2011 by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, this program is a nationwide initiative to integrate the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vast network of state and local chambers and strategic partners with the public, private and non-profit sectors.
The goal of this program is to create a movement across America in hundreds of communities where veterans and military families live and return to live after their military service.
The Hiring Our Heroes program is based on two strategies: a grassroots engagement, and a public-private partnership approach decentralized to operate in vibrant communities across the nation.
Part of this program includes a commitment-based engagement with the business community where more than 1,200 job fairs were sponsored across the nation and around the world on military bases to help service members find jobs as they transitioned from the military.
Looking back at all these job fair events, nearly 30,000 veterans and military spouses have jobs thanks to the Hiring Our Heroes program.
Today, these efforts are part of a combined grassroots engagement strategy that includes more than 2,000 companies of all sizes hiring 710,000 veterans and military spouses as part of the Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign.
From these commitments, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation reports 505,000 confirmed hires.
The digital resources provided for transitioning service members, spouses and veterans include resume builders, a jobs portal to provide visibility of employment opportunities across the country, a 24/7 virtual career fair platform, an interactive employer best practices site, and a virtual mentorship program that connects veteran protégés with experienced mentors.
Each of the job fairs taking place across the nation now also hosts veteran workshops to coach, teach and mentor veterans on the plethora of information available to them.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation publishes an annual report each year that highlights the impacts of their efforts.
Their latest report is available online at: www.uschamberfoundation.org/sites/default/files/Hiring%20Our%20Heroes%20...
So what does the Hiring Our Heroes program look like in hometown USA?
On Nov. 4, 2016, I had the opportunity to see the Hiring Our Heroes program up close at Austin Peay State University (APSU) in Clarksville, Tenn.
Jerry Spencer, the coordinator of continuing education at the university oversees the Hiring Our Heroes program and he impressed and enlightened me with information on how this program directly helps soldiers transitioning from the Army.
APSU manages three cohorts of transitioning soldiers per calendar year. Each of these cohorts consists of no more than 30 personnel.
The criteria for participating in one of these cohorts are: The soldier must be within 180 days of separation or retirement, and, second, the soldier be qualified for the paid corporate fellowship.
For a transitioning soldier to qualify for the paid corporate fellowship intern initiative, he or she must be in the paygrade of E-5 to E-8, O-1 to O-4, or W-1 to W-2.
Companies like Amazon, GE Aviation, Hilton, Macy’s, First Command, Tractor Supply, CEVA Logistics, etc., are examples of organizations that have participated in the paid intern program.
Participating companies looking for veterans to hire to fill vacancies in their ranks have the opportunity to review resumes, then interview and employ these participating fellows.
Participating fellows who are hired serve as paid interns for 10 weeks with the understanding that the company they work for intends to hire the soldier at the close of the internship.
The results of the program speak for themselves as the last three cohorts resulted in an 88 percent placement for graduates into permanent jobs.
Spencer reports: “Overall placement can reasonably be established at 100 percent since those who are not counted among the 88 percent either accepted positions outside those which the program sponsor offered, or chose to pursue graduate degrees full-time.”
The curriculum outline is set by APSU and covers three full days of classroom instruction in week one, followed by 11 consecutive weeks in which cohorts meet one day per week.
In the classroom, subject matter experts deliver 2-3 hour blocks of instruction covering a broad range of topics including: Personal Branding & Networking, Professional Communications, Understanding Your Value in the Job Market, Working with Managers, Decision-Making, Goal Setting and Performance, The Job of Getting a Job, Social Media and Life-Defining Moments.
Break-out sessions for certification courses are also offered in Six Sigma Green Belt, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), Certified Professional/Senior Certified Professional (CP/SCP) and Project Management.
APSU graduated their third cohort of soldiers on Nov. 10, 2016, and continue to plan for their fourth cohort beginning in January 2017.
The commitment and dedication of the APSU team to make the Hiring Our Heroes program a success for our soldiers, coupled with all the businesses that participate in the program and the greater Clarksville community is nothing short of amazing.
Ultimately, the success of the program is reflected in the final results of the three cohorts of soldiers who participated in the fellowship program.
Veteran unemployment rates across the country are the lowest today in more than eight years with the greatest decrease over the last several years as stated in the last annual report from the Department of Defense.
In addition to the Hiring Our Heroes program, APSU is known as a veteran-friendly university.
I had the opportunity to visit and spend about two hours with the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) students.
Lt. Col. John Montgomery and Master Sgt. Dennis Gholson hosted my visit with the cadets.
Many of the ROTC students in school are veterans who completed their service and are now pursuing their educational goals with a view toward continued military service.
The military science and leadership cadre are very proud of ASPU’s program and their five MacArthur Awards.
The MacArthur Award is presented by the U.S. Army Cadet Command each year to eight schools, selected from among the 275 senior ROTC programs nationwide as the top programs in the country.
The awards, presented by Cadet Command and the Gen. Douglas MacArthur Foundation, recognize the ideals of “duty, honor and country” advocated by MacArthur.
The award is based on a combination of the achievement of the school’s commissioning mission, their cadets’ performance and standing on the command’s National Order of Merit List, and their cadet retention rate.
Cadet Command and the MacArthur Foundation have presented the awards each year since 1989.
With 275 senior ROTC programs in the country, earning five MacArthur awards to date reflects the greatness of everything APSU does to support our future military leaders.
Carol Clark, the director of community and business relations and executive assistant to the president of APSU, hosted my visit at the university that gave me the opportunity to see first-hand their programs, cadre and facilities.
Of special note, APSU established a Military Student Center (MSC) in 2010 to serve the needs of veterans, regular Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, retired service members, ROTC students and family members attending the university.
This center offers programs throughout the academic year to cater to and address the unique challenges facing these students.
I found the MSC to be one of those places where military students and family members can get away from the hustle and bustle of academic life and hang out with friends and seek mentorship.
For these soldiers who have stayed to work in the greater Clarksville area, they call Fort Campbell home for themselves and their families.
Home is where you hang your hat and where you can enjoy the company of family at home, at work and in school.
Now more than ever America’s Army needs AUSA, and AUSA needs your membership support.
Membership is the volume knob to ensure your voice is amplified many times over and heard throughout the halls of Congress, from sea to shining sea across this country, and throughout every small town and community in-between.
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