For nearly six years, Hiring Our Heroes at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has led the nationwide effort to find meaningful careers for veterans and military spouses through hiring events, fellowship programs, online resources, and other programs and initiatives.
Since we launched in March 2011, we have successfully halted — and reversed — the national veteran employment crisis, and are now making innovative strides in supporting a new generation of military families through the transition process.
Our commitment to grassroots engagement and public-private partnerships has sparked monumental shifts in military family employment. Through our collaborative efforts, more than 28,000 veterans and military spouses have obtained jobs through Hiring Our Heroes events — and now, more than 2,000 companies have committed to hire 710,000 veterans and military spouses as part of the Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign. Already, we have seen 505,000 confirmed hires.
While tremendous progress has been made for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses in finding meaningful employment, we have more work to do.
As a nation, we need to redouble our efforts to support and employ military spouses. The military spouse community faces unemployment rates of up to four times the rate of veterans. Because of frequent moves across the country, rsum gaps due to time out of the work force, and other challenges related to their partners’ service, spouses face unique hurdles that other job seekers simply do not. Military spouses make up an incredibly talented work force, and their absence is a missed opportunity for businesses.
Military spouse employment is not only an economic issue, but a matter of national security. Statistics show that retention of good service members depends greatly on opportunities for military spouses. Military families are no different from other American families in depending on two incomes, and in order to maintain the best fighting force possible, we need to ensure that military spouses have equal opportunity to contribute to our economy. But just as with veterans and transitioning service members, recruiting and retaining military spouses in the right positions is not just a “feel-good” or necessary thing to do, it is the right thing to do from a business perspective. It’s good for the bottom line.
That’s why Hiring Our Heroes is committed to leveraging the power of the private sector. Through our connections to the business community, we see companies like Starbucks, Prudential, USAA, Capital One, La Quinta, CarMax and many others stepping out and leading the way to develop robust hiring strategies that fully incorporate military spouses.
Companies can take immediate action today by partnering with Hiring Our Heroes and joining the coalition to foster military family employment. Together, we can tackle the challenge of full military family employment — because without focusing on military spouses, we only have half of a strategy.
• Eric Eversole is president of Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.