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Joining Forces: An Initiative to Hire Veterans & Spouses

One of the biggest challenges facing Veterans as they transition out of the military and into the civilian world is trying to find their place. Joining Forces was founded in 2011 to help the military community establish their post-service careers while utilizing the unique skills learned during service. But before we get to the details of that, let’s look at why it’s been a challenge.

Joining Forces

From Soldier to Civilian: The Challenge

How do you translate the job skills of many military occupational specialties to a civilian career? My husband was an Airborne Ranger with an MOS of 11B (Infantry). There aren’t too many jobs out there where skills such as kicking in doors, fast roping out of helicopters and jumping out of airplanes come in handy.

Because of that, we know first-hand just how difficult it can be to find a job after military service comes to an end.

He was medically retired in 2007 and he searched for where he could fit in since that time. How do you replace the thrill of the mission, the camaraderie of a special ops unit and the belief that you’re contributing to the greatest cause of all – the freedom of the American people?

It wasn’t until 2015, a long eight years after his retirement, that he joined the local fire department and truly again felt fulfilled. He has the family element similar to his military unit, he has the thrill of the unknown with never knowing when, where or what the next call may be and he’s there to help others in some of their darkest times. It fits.

Corporate Pledge to Be Part of the Solution

Luckily for the Veteran community, searching for eight years for your fit may become a thing of the past. Many companies are stepping up to the plate to pledge their commitment to hire Veterans. And good news for spouses – it includes us, too!

May is Military Appreciation Month and companies are coming together to show their appreciation and support in a tangible way. On May 5th, they joined together with First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden to pledge their commitment to hire Veterans and their spouses. And we’re not talking insignificant numbers here – the new goal is 110,000. And what’s more exciting is 1.2 MILLION have already found jobs through the Joining Forces initiative – that’s huge!

Why Now? Why Veterans?

American businesses are finally recognizing Veterans and their spouses offer a unique set of characteristics and perspectives that can be difficult to find otherwise. Fast roping may not be a job requirement, but adaptability, motivation to always be the best and eagerness to learn are, as well as these skills:

  • Decisive & quick on your feet – Our military has been trained that seconds count. They must make the most effective and efficient decision to move the mission towards success. Many businesses need that same quick, effective decision making process.
  • Resilience – As military families,we have dealt with multiple 12-18 month deployments, surprise departures, and sudden PCS orders that require moving around the world at a moment’s notice. We’ve celebrated birthdays and anniversaries months later, Halloween in December and Christmas in March. Unexpected changes in an organization won’t phase us.
  • Dedication – Our community is dedicated beyond measure to the mission. While we may not always like being at the mercy of the needs of the military, we understand the mission comes first and we give 110%. Always. As spouses, we give birth alone, we operate as a single parent even though we’re married and we support those in the community who just received that dreaded knock at the door. It’s just what we do. We believe in the mission and it’s a family affair to support it. Corporate America would be lucky to have that same level of dedication.
  • Leadership – If anyone can rally the troops, it’s someone who had to do it on the field of battle. Our soldiers know what it takes to lead and what needs to be done to have everyone working together as a team. You keep watch over your battle buddy to your right and your left and you put them above your own self interests. That’s the definition of leadership and, quite frankly, many organizations need more of it.

What Companies Are Involved?

There are 40 companies who have made the pledge. And just as they’re supporting us, we should support them. You can see the full list of companies here.

I’m incredibly proud to say the company I work for, National Vision, has joined in on the pledge and committed to hiring 500 Veterans and Veteran spouses. They already get to mark getting their first spouse on board off the list. 😉

National Vision has over 800 optical retail locations across the country and also offers jobs in manufacturing, distribution and corporate support (marketing – with me!, accounting, human resources, operations, etc). What I love about my company is they are a value retailer who believes everyone deserves to see their best, to live their best. And now we get to say we’re also focused on hiring the best!

But What About Transitioning?

I get it. Transition from the military life is tough. It was hard on my husband and it was hard on me. But many of these companies (including National Vision) are going beyond just offering a job, they’re also offering development programs, mentorship relationships and internal training.

I, for one, am very excited about the program. Businesses showing support in the form of discounts on Veterans Day or acknowledgement on the 4th of July is nice. But truly addressing a challenge that our military community faces every day in a way that impacts more than 1 million of our own? It doesn’t get much better than that.

About the author: Stacey is an Army wife of a soldier who joined in 2003. He has since been medically retired but she continues to provide information to Army wives and families to make their adjustment to the Army lifestyle easier. Connect with Stacey: Facebook Twitter Pinterest

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