How Fortune 500 Corporations Are Helping Veterans Find Employment
With Veteran's Day approaching, the nation is turning its eyes towards America's warriors. This year's annual veterans' commemoration comes at a vital time for the members of America's armed forces. It was just last month that President Barack Obama made the announcement that the last 40,000 combat troops stationed in Iraq will be coming home by year's end, marking a formal end to a war more than eight years old. In total, some 2.4 million Americans have served in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Their struggles have been widely noted. Advances in weapons technology over the last decade have facilitated for unprecedented types of injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). And an estimated one in four service members suffers from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). But few statistics are more glaring than this one: for veterans 25 and under, the unemployment rate is 21 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The overall unemployment rate for all recently returned veterans is 12 percent, three points above the national total.)
And while the nation's corporations have recently found their image sullied in unprecedented ways by the rhetoric of the Occupy Movement, which seeks to link them to growing inequality in America, Fortune 500 giants are seeking to create an alternative narrative. As was reported on DailyFinance, Starbucks has just launched its "Create Jobs for USA" campaign, which will facilitate loans for small businesses in the hope of ameliorating the national unemployment epidemic. With Washington in campaign mode, the nation's powerbrokers are "not going to do squat," CEO Howard Schultz told DailyFinance, before stressing it's the responsibility of business leaders to take constructive steps towards solving the jobs crisis.
In a similar vein, and with the country's veterans on the top of their mind, Wal-Mart has just announced a plan that will see its foundation handing over a $750,000 grant to the Veteran Green Jobs initiative. Founded in 2008, the not-for-profit enterprise seeks to place war veterans on a variety of jobs that take advantage of skills service members have learned in the armed forces. Among them are home weatherization and other home improvement projects.
The end result of the Wal-Mart grant will be the employment of some 1,000 veterans, according to a PRNewswire report. For the Bentonville, Arkansas, giant, the move is just one part of a giving initiative totalling $20 million to be stretched over five years in a bid to combat veteran unemployment.
"Walmart is at the forefront of Fortune 500 companies hiring returning veterans and assisting organizations in reversing the high rates of joblessness among our veteran population," said Dr. Mit Parsons, Veterans Green Jobs' co-founder and board chairman, and a U.S. Army veteran. "Veterans Green Jobs is thankful for the partnership we have forged with Walmart in leveraging career opportunities that are focused on environmental sustainability. We share with this strategic partner a commitment to making veteran employment happen with 'boots on the ground' - one veteran at a time."
For veterans, the struggle to secure employment will not be fixed by one corporation announcing one new grant. The problem is so pressing and ubiquitous that the partnership of USAA and Miliary.com has just announced their first joint list of the ten best cities for military retirees to move to when they launch their civilian career. Aimed at career service members, who usually retire from their military post in their late 30's or early 40's, the list was put together according to 14 metrics. As was covered on AOL Jobs, the factor that received the greatest weight was the frequency of industries hiring in sectors that prize skills honed in military service, like aviation and engineering. And topping the list of the Top 10 was Oklahoma City, OK. Also rounding out the top five were the Virginia cities of Norfolk and Richmond, and the Texan cities of Austin and San Antonio.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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