American veterans returned from war to face an altogether different type of battle: finding a job.
As hiring languishes amidst a tepid economy, veterans, especially young male veterans, are struggling to find work. Of the nearly 23 million veterans who have returned from war since 2001, about 11.5 percent are unemployed—more than 26 percent higher than the national unemployment rate.
Joining Forces, a national initiative spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, has set out to help hire more than 100,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014.
"That's 100,000 veterans and spouses who will have the security of a paycheck and good career," Mrs. Obama said in a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce yesterday. "That's thousands of families that can rest just a little bit easier every night."
The First Lady's speech came just a day before the Senate approved a provision of the American Jobs Act, which will offer private businesses a $9,600 tax credit for hiring disabled veterans. It will also create additional tax credits for employers who hire veterans who have spent four weeks or more out of work. The first lady also descrived a new online program—the Veterans Job Bank tool—that will assist veterans and spouses search for jobs with "military-friendly employers"
Certainly, the initiatives are a step in the right direction toward getting veterans working again. But it's hardly a panacea—and Washington knows it, too. For Joining Forces to make good on its promise to hire 100,000 veterans, it will need a powerful marketing campaign, and the technological tools to make it feasible. To address those concerns, the White House has unrolled a series of public-private partnerships that seek to connect private employers with veterans.
One of those partnerships is with the Taleo Corporation, a national talent management agency, which earlier this week partnered with the Joining Forces initiative to support U.S. military veterans and their families. Specifically, Taleo launched a new HTML method for tagging job openings on its site that can quickly be located by job-seeking veterans. When Taleo user post these tagged positions, they instantly can appear on the customer's career website.
"America's veterans risk everything on our behalf, and now that they're safely home and back with their families, it's our turn to do what we can to repay their courage and sacrifice," said Michael Gregoire, Chairman and CEO at Taleo, in a statement. "By working closely with our more than 5,000 corporate customers, Taleo is making it easier than ever for unemployed veterans to find jobs."
The International Franchise Association (IFA) announced its own plan yesterday, the "Operation Enduring Opportunity," which will pledge to support veterans at its own 825,000 franchise establishments, which support nearly 18 million jobs. The association plans to hold events in cities around the country, and at least one franchisor, The UPS Store has pledged approximately $300,000 to help up to 10 qualified U.S. military veterans open their own locations.
"We encourage all franchise businesses, including franchisors and franchisees, to answer the call to offer jobs and career opportunities to veterans, wounded warriors and their families," IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira noted in a statement. "Not only is this critical for the economic and social stability of veterans and their families, but it is an important component of the U.S. economic recovery."
Even if your firm isn't hiring, there are other ways to help. For example, the intellectual property law firm Finnegan, which has offices around the world, donated more than 14,000 hours in pro bono work assisting veterans who have had benefits claims denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Other employees spend time volunteering with the Transition Assistance Program, or TAP, which helps veterans compose resumes and offers a variety of regional workshops.
To post a job listing on the Veterans Jobs Bank, click here.