Saturday, March 24 , 2018, 6:36 am | Fair 43º


Tom Donohue: 100 Job Fairs for Veterans and Counting ...

Hiring Our Heroes initiative helps service men and women find employment opportunities in a crowded market

One hundred isn’t just the number of years that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has been standing up for American business. It’s the number of job fairs we’ll hold for veterans in the first year of our Hiring Our Heroes job initiative. After launching the program last March, we will hit our milestone goal of 100 hiring fairs with an event in Philadelphia this Friday.

The Hiring Our Heroes initiative has a simple goal: to honor the men and women who have served our country through military service by connecting them with employment opportunities and helping put veterans and military spouses on fulfilling career paths.

It’s not a hard sell — veterans are excellent job candidates. They’ve received world-class training by the military, and they’ve developed critical skills and transferable experience in duty.

But as a growing number of service members separate from the military and re-enter the already crowded civilian job market, the rate of unemployment among veterans has been pushed to disproportionately high levels.

The business community is stepping up and joining forces to reverse that trend. The Chamber of Commerce has established a private-sector Veterans Employment Advisory Council to bring together America’s largest employers from across all industries and sectors to generate job-creation ideas for veterans. And we’re broadening our efforts to include a stand-alone program for military spouses and a nationwide grassroots campaign to get small businesses in on the action.

Leveraging partnerships with private companies, local communities and chambers of commerce, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s hiring fairs have hosted more than 90,000 veterans and military spouses and have given them opportunities to meet with upward of 5,000 employers. As a result, more than 8,000 job seekers have found employment.

And we’re just getting warmed up. We plan to hold 400 Hiring Our Heroes job fairs across the country over the next 12 months, and we hope that the number of success stories will grow exponentially.

Although the Hiring Our Heroes program is relatively new, the mission behind it is as old as the Chamber of Commerce itself. Throughout our 100-year history, we’ve fought for policies that unleash free enterprise for the betterment of all Americans. Over the past few years, as unemployment has ticked up and more people have struggled to find or keep work, our focus has been on jobs — saving them, creating them, and filling them with America’s best and brightest. One of the most exciting, innovative and meaningful ways we’re doing that is through Hiring Our Heroes.

— Tom Donohue is president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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