Rob Comer holds a microphone amongst people sitting on a stage during a panel discussion.
Hiring Our Heroes program manager Rob Comer speaks during a panel at the Camp Lejeune Career Summit in Jacksonville, North Carolina, in October 2019. Photo credit: Hiring Our Heroes
Financial Health
November 6, 2019

Tearing down barriers to employment for America’s military and their families

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative is connecting veterans, service members, and military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities.

Our monthly Viewpoints series invites guest authors from outside of Wells Fargo to share an important perspective related to their work. Today, we welcome Eric Eversole, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and president of Hiring Our Heroes.
Eric Eversole wears a suit and tie.
Eric Eversole is the president of Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Hiring Our Heroes is constantly striving to develop programs and nourish partnerships to meet the needs of the 21st century transitioning service member, veteran, and military spouse.

Working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vast network of state and local chambers and strategic partners from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, our goal is to create a movement across America in hundreds of communities where veterans and military families return every day.

Our mission — connecting veterans, service members, and military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities — thrives on tremendous partnerships with public and private sector stakeholders. These partnerships create incredible opportunities for military job seekers and have a long-term impact on the lives of men and women who served our great country.

I would like to tell you about one married couple, Joel Dillon and Jen Zais. These former military officers were able to embrace their transition from the serving in the Army to working for Amazon as technical program managers with great confidence and a multitude of resources, thanks to their experiences during the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program.

The 12-week program provides a direct connection to the military community talent pipeline for businesses eager to attract the nation’s best and brightest to their organization. Wells Fargo Advisors just completed hosting a record-number 22 fellows in St. Louis, one of 15 program locations throughout the country.

In less than four years, our Corporate Fellowship Program has cemented its place as the go-to pathway for military-to-civilian career success, with 729 transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses completing fellowships at 200 businesses of all sizes in 2018.

A successful transition from the battlefield to the boardroom

Scott Johnson stands in front of a large trailer.
Scott Johnson is one of thousands of transitioning service members who have connected with military-ready employers at Hiring Our Heroes Career Summits held at military installations around the world. Photo credit: Hiring Our Heroes

Four out of five veterans surveyed told Hiring Our Heroes they faced a period of unemployment after leaving military service. We know that the longer service members wait to prepare for their separation from military service, the tougher their transition is.

Hiring Our Heroes Career Summits aim to prepare service members for their next career by offering interactive and informative panel discussions, along with facilitated discussions focused on improving competitive employment for service members.

These panel discussions, along with a LinkedIn profile review by a LinkedIn expert, is what attracted Army veteran Scott Johnson to the Fort Jackson Career Summit in Columbia, South Carolina. During the hiring fair, Scott connected with FedEx Freight and landed a job at this military-ready employer. I believe this connection would not have been possible if he had not attended a Career Summit during his transition.

The success of our Career Summits rests on the dedication of our local partners, state workforce agencies, local Veterans Affairs offices, and local chambers of commerce to ensure that the opportunities available reflect the skills and talents of the local military community.

Battling military spouse unemployment and underemployment

Community partnerships are also at the heart of our Military Spouse Professional Networks and Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zones. Holland Nguyen, a military spouse who lives in San Antonio and works at Humana Military, told me that networking through the MSPN and MSEEZ was critical to her success in securing gainful employment.

In addition to hosting 22 spouse-specific networking receptions, hiring fairs, and symposia in cities and installations across the United States, Hiring Our Heroes has also hosted six AMPLIFY military spouse career intensives. These two-day career development events lead a cadre of 45 military spouses through intensive job-search preparation.

Building on the success of our Corporate Fellowship Program, we partnered with Maryland’s Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation via the Military Corps Career Connect (C3) program to offer fellowships to military spouses residing in Maryland and the National Capital Region in 2018.

After this pilot program’s success, we approached our partners about expanding the Military Spouse Fellowship program. Thanks to corporate-funded scholarships, more than 200 military spouses will work as paid fellows throughout the country in the near future.

Hiring Our Heroes continues to facilitate an important conversation to both raise awareness about and engage in problem-solving to combat the clear threat that military spouse unemployment and underemployment places on one of our nation’s more treasured and valued institutions — the all-volunteer force.

As you can see, we are more motivated than ever to continue this important work. I look forward to strengthening partnerships, expanding our reach, and continuing to chip away at the challenges that veterans and military spouses face in their search for meaningful employment.

Holland Nguyen stands at a podium, with a Hiring Our Heroes sign on the front of it.
Holland Nguyen, a military spouse living and working in San Antonio, shared her employment success story at the one-year anniversary of the nation’s first Military Spouse Economic Empowerment Zone. Photo credit: Hiring Our Heroes