There’s a new move afoot to hire our nation’s military veterans. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring our Heroes” initiative helps veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment opportunities. NBC News joined the campaign; you may have seen their television PSAs promoting job fairs across the country. And, some companies have developed their own initiatives aimed at hiring our nation’s heroes.
An estimated 722,000 U.S. veterans were unemployed last year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s out of a total of 21.4 million veterans in this country. Regrettably, my home state of Michigan had the second highest unemployment rate for veterans at 10.6%.
So, why are so many of our veterans struggling to find employment?
There are numerous reasons. Sometimes, prospective employers don’t fully understand how the veteran’s military experiences can be applied to the open positions in their companies. Or, the veterans can’t talk about their multi-faceted work in the service because it was classified. Or, the veterans are hesitant to talk about themselves and sell an employer on their qualities. Or, in some cases, the veterans don’t have the up-to-date skills needed for today’s job market.
Of course, the expertise acquired in the military by these men and women is extraordinary — in both a professional and personal sense. But, they need assistance seeing how they can apply those skill sets to a career, plus learn new ones.
That’s why the Detroit Rescue Mission Ministries recently partnered with the Detroit Training Center to provide our veterans with the training they need to land good-paying jobs. The veterans that we are helping in our joint program found themselves homeless and unsuccessful at making — and sustaining — a living.
We help reintegrate them back into civilian life and into the workforce. Our program offers training in blight removal, deconstruction, heavy equipment operation, facilities maintenance, and construction. We even help them find jobs after they complete the training.
I’m calling on all companies to do the right thing. Give a veteran a job.