Hiring Our Heroes Hits 400

Jan 24, 2013

A Hiring Our Heroes employment fair for veterans, Guard and Reserve members, and eligible spouses in Chicago, IL. Photo by Tunwa Yee / Edward Fox Photography.

In March 2011, we launched Hiring Our Heroes with the seemingly simple mission of connecting businesses to the wide and diverse pool of talent transitioning out of the military each year. This task is easily stated, but actually carrying it out is another matter.

While the unemployment rate in America for post-9/11 veterans has decreased from 12.1% in 2011 to just above 10% over the past 12 months, it remains stubbornly above the national average. Military spouse unemployment weighed in at nearly 26%.

These numbers and the factors that cause them are anything but simple. Our path over the last two years has led us to build strong partnerships and explore new opportunities to tackle these challenges, but our core competency has been and remains the veteran and military spouse hiring fairs we host across the country.

These fairs, tailored exclusively to veterans and spouses, have touched cities, towns, and rural communities all over the country. It’s hard to believe that today we are hitting fair number 400.

With fairs in Grand Rapids, MI, Nashville, TN, and St. George, UT, we surpassed the 400th hiring fair milestone in less than two years. In that time, more than 14,000 veterans and military spouses have found employment as a direct result of Hiring Our Heroes’ job fairs and the employment workshops that accompany them.

These numbers would not have been possible without our partners at the national and local levels. And we've seen another 80,000 get hired as a result of our Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign with Capital One and the relationships we have forged with businesses, large and small. Companies like Toyota, and GE; allies like our local chambers of commerce, the International Franchise Association, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; and networks like Got Your 6 and Blue Star Families have been at the heart of our grassroots movement.

These groups are leaders in their industries and fields, and with their help we’ve managed to create a unique hiring fair experience that is making an impact on those unemployment figures at the local level.

At today’s fair in Grand Rapids, for example, we partnered with the Michigan Committee of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). As a result, the space and equipment needed to host the fair were provided at no cost. That fair saw close to 70 companies register for booths and hundreds of qualified candidates attend free of charge.

Our partnerships with ESGR, The American Legion, and other veteran-friendly organizations have allowed us to host hiring fairs without charging any registration fees for employers or jobseekers. The fact that these fairs are free makes them accessible to many of the small businesses we believe are making an impact on veteran and spouse unemployment in this country. It is what allows us to host 400 of them in two years.

Today is an important landmark for our program, but it is just one step on the path to getting half a million heroes hired by the end of 2014. There are several steps in between these milestones, and we look forward to every single one of them.

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