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March 14, 2013

Veterans, Business and Industry, and American Competitiveness

Veterans, Business and Industry, and American Competitiveness

Written by James Schmeling, IVMF Managing Director and Co-founder

First Lady Michelle Obama addressed CEO members of the Business Roundtable at their quarterly meeting and challenged them to ask themselves, “What more can we do?” She asked that question very appropriately, in context, recognizing that American business and industry already has done much while asking these leaders to “work together to make big, bold commitments.”

Many business and industry leaders already know the value veterans bring to their sectors. Increasingly, they are working together on their commitments to hire veterans and to leverage the skills, experience, work ethic, moral integrity and more that veterans and their families bring to the American workforce. They understand The Business Case for Hiring a Veteran. They share knowledge and experience, as with the 100,000 Jobs Mission, which now boasts nearly 100 members and has hired over 23,649 veterans in the last quarter of 2012 alone. These companies are leaders that share practices, including approaches to recruiting, hiring, onboarding, retaining and advancing talented veterans and family members. These are companies and recruiters who go so far as to share talented veteran’s resumes with each other, even between competitors!

They make their resources and case studies available through shared toolkits, like the one that we created, Veteran Employment Leading Practices: Tools for Engaging Talent, building on work begun by the IVMF with support from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Robin Hood, and in collaboration with McKinsey & Company. The toolkit lays out the playbook for veteran initiatives, and includes research and proven best practices from more than 40 businesses. The toolkit delivers processes, resources and programs to enable even more employers, small and large, to effectively recruit, on-board, support and mentor veterans in the civilian workforce.

Moves by public-private industry and trade organizations, like the Business Roundtable, are increasingly important in the dialogue. They are driven by their members’ need for a skilled workforce, and will increasingly aid and prompt companies new to veteran initiatives by promoting the value of veterans and military families as a critical talent pool, and by sharing lessons already learned with each other. Many of our IVMF partners and members of coalitions we work with are leading members of the Business Roundtable, including our founding partner, JPMorgan Chase, and partners who have funded or worked with the institute’s employment and small business entrepreneurship programs, leaders that include Walmart, Accenture, Ernst & Young, GE, Humana, ITT Technical Institute and PepsiCo.

Other Business Roundtable members participate in the Get Skills to Work initiative we partner in (and which today graduated its first class of veteran students) including Alcoa and Boeing. They participate in our GSTW toolkit (download a PDF here) and they hire veterans. Still, other members of the roundtable work with the previously mentioned 100,000 Jobs Mission including AT&T, Avis Budget Group, Charles Schwab, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Comcast, CSX, DIRECTV, EMC Corporation, Frontier Communications, GM, Johnson & Johnson, Johnson Controls, Merck, MetLife, Shell, Siemens, Target, Textron, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Time Warner Cable, Tyco International, UnitedHealth Group, United Health Services, Verizon and WellPoint.

These companies are leading the way, and will continue to both learn and share lessons with others. At the IVMF, we’re thrilled by the leadership they all display, and by the opportunity to work with them, learn from them and share with them. The best part? That veterans and military families can continue to serve our country, contributing to American competitiveness, by taking jobs, becoming managers and leaders in American business and industry, and demonstrating their contributions to our society.

As the First Lady rightly pointed out, “They’re highly skilled, serving as IT specialists and operations managers, logistics coordinators. They’ve overseen millions of dollars’ worth of assets, operated complicated machinery, managed dozens–even hundreds–of their peers. On the battlefield, they are the leaders of today’s dynamic modern warfare. One day they’re handing out humanitarian aid, and the next they’re responding to a firefight, and the next they’re building relationships with local leaders.”

She couldn’t be more right. Veterans are talented, highly skilled, amazing contributors to America’s workforce. They will help drive American competitiveness for the next five decades. And we’re here to work with these veterans, with business and industry, with higher education and others.


To read recent news coverage of the Business Roundtable meeting and the First Lady’s call to action to members to further engage in hiring veterans and military family members, check out:


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Sharon Crump
I’m torn with the information that you are providing. On the one hand I think that the information you are providing for veterans about entrepreneurship is great, but as a veteran of the gulf war, your information does not include me and my desire of business ownership. I attend VWISE, San Antonio in 2011, I was so excited I though that I would finally get the resource information that is lacking in most communities for veteran women. It was a very exciting, powerful, and motivating event, that lack the information that I needed and I’m sure so many other veteran… Read more »