Doing good
5 Companies that Make Hiring Veterans a Priority
Free Enterprise Staff | July 29, 2014

Though the unemployment rate in the United States has steadily declined since reaching double digits in October 2009, jobs growth has failed to return to pre-recessionary levels. This trend that has hit veterans particularly hard, with unemployment among Gulf War-era II veterans—defined as those who served on active duty at any time since September 2001—still hovering above 7%. The business community is devoting ample resources to address this issue, with major companies increasingly working to recruit and hire veterans.

Unemployment varies among the more than 23 million living military veterans in the U.S., with certain age groups faring better than others. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (B.L.S.) estimates that veterans of the first Gulf War, for example, have an unemployment rate of only 4.6%. There are, moreover, approximately 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. that collectively employ some 5.8 million people, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Many military veterans, though, are struggling to find employment, prompting concern among policymakers. Recent B.L.S. data has done little to quell such worries, as total veteran unemployment increased from 5% in May to 5.4% in June. This trend runs counter to the national unemployment rate, which fell from 6.3% to 6.1% over the same period of time. The situation is especially bleak for young veterans and female veterans, B.L.S. data suggests, as the two groups logged unemployment rates of 15.4% and 10.3%, respectively, in June.

Yet instead of being discouraged by the job market, veterans could improve their chances of being hired if they refocus their efforts on the many employers who value the experiences and personal attributes veterans bring to the workforce. Underscoring the premium businesses place on them, young veterans who are employed tend to make more money than their non-veteran peers, researchers at Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families concluded in a recent report.

Who makes hiring military veterans a priority? To save you time, we’ve researched companies that have publicly affirmed their commitment to veterans and launched initiatives aimed at attracting such candidates. These businesses are certainly not the only ones who make a concerted effort to hire veterans, but they’re nonetheless leading the charge.

1. Capital One

The U.S. banking giant is currently looking to fill positions across the country and throughout its diverse corporate architecture. Illustrating the importance it places on hiring veterans, Capital One committed $4.5 million to Hiring 500,000 Heroes, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce campaign seeking to create half a million jobs for veterans and military spouses.

2. CVS Caremark

With approximately 7,600 stores, Rhode Island-based CVS is one of the largest pharmacies in the U.S. As the company looks to grow over the coming years, it plans on hiring veterans to fill a quarter of all new positions at its logistics and distribution facilities.

3. General Electric

The American manufacturing juggernaut is among the nation’s most vocal proponents of hiring veterans. Not content to merely actively recruit and hire veterans, G.E. has teamed with other manufacturers to create the Get Skills to Work program, which not only helps veterans learn the skills they’ll need to succeed in the workforce, but also assists them with finding and securing jobs upon their successful completion of the course. 

4. General Motors

The automaker has charged back since the recession, with sales increasing at a fast clip. GM remains committed to veterans issues, as the carmaker actively recruits veterans to fill vacant positions and offers them free technical and non-technical training, among other initiatives.

5. Verizon

The telecommunications giant offers veterans a “Military Skill Matcher” that enables them see available jobs they’re best suited for given the skills and knowledge they acquired while serving in the Armed Forces. Verizon also offers a host of other helpful services and programs that veterans can take advantage of as they look for work.