As the veteran unemployment rate continues to improve, the focus has shifted to finding the right fit, the right job, and making sure that veterans are transitioned into the right programs. For military spouses, unemployment remains very high at 16 percent. Eric Eversole, President of Hiring Our Heroes (an initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation) discusses efforts to provide better job opportunities for activity duty service members, military spouses and family members. This discussion continues in part 2 of Hiring Our Heroes.
Interview recorded Oct 11, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Robert Traynham: According to a 2016 survey, American businesses now rank veteran recruitment among their top three priorities in talent acquisition. Hello, everyone, and welcome to Comcast Newsmakers. I’m Robert Traynham. With me is Eric Eversole. He’s the President of Hiring our Heroes, an initiative of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Eric, welcome to the program.
Eric Eversole: Glad to be here.
Robert Traynham: You know, Eric, I am so pleased to mention what I just said a few moments ago, that corporations out there are saying this is their top three priority in terms of recruitment. Why the change, which is a good change, by all [00:00:30] stretch of the imagination?
Eric Eversole: Well, it’s a great change, and, at the end of the day, this is about their bottom line. They’ve been out there on the front lines, recruiting veteran talent and military spouse talent, and they’ve been able to bring that talent into their workforce, and they’re excelling. Companies, as they stood up these programs, as they stood up programs to help retain these service members and their family members, found real value in having them transition to their workforce. Their leadership skills, their ability to get the job done, [00:01:00] to really find innovative solutions are all attributes that the military has, and it impacts American business significantly.
Robert Traynham: Eric, for many years, I’ve heard your colleagues and others say the transition from military life to civilian life is often bumpy, in terms of personal life situations, as well as business or professional life. Are there any internships or fellowships that, perhaps, maybe you’re aware of that help make that transition much easier?
Eric Eversole: That’s been probably one of our biggest changes is a couple of years ago, it was really a volume game. [00:01:30] Veteran unemployment was so high, it was just trying to do triage and actually get that unemployment rate down, but as we’ve gotten into lower unemployment rates, it’s been more about the right fit, the right job, and making sure that we transition veterans into the right programs. As part of those efforts, DOD and federal law had a-
Robert Traynham: DOD meaning Department of Defense.
Eric Eversole: Department of Defense–that’s right–had a program where you could take active duty service members and place them with companies for 12 weeks before they get out. [00:02:00] We started at one location in 2014. We are now at 10 locations, but here’s the bottom line. This “try it before you buy it” approach has meant that 80% of our fellows are getting hired before they get out, and their average starting salary is $70,000.
Robert Traynham: That’s great. One of the unsung heroes, as I like to call it, are the spouses. Oftentimes, the spouse may have a job that may have some type of state certification. For example, my wife, perhaps, could be a teacher [00:02:30] in one state, but we get deployed to another state. My wife is out of a job, and then she then has to, perhaps, maybe get new certification. That adds a lot of stress, anxiety on the family. That’s just one example. Are you working with the spouses, in terms of how they’re able to transition back to civilian life, as well?
Eric Eversole: Absolutely, and it’s not just transitioning back. I mean, they’re in a constant state of transition. They move so frequently, and the licensing issue’s a big issue. It is an issue that is a top priority for this administration. They have focused on it [00:03:00] with a laser focus. From our perspective, military spouses still face 16% unemployment. It’s four times the average for women in this country.
What’s happening is that military families are now making a decision whether they can stay in the military and continue to live on one income or make the transition out, so that they can have two incomes. Oftentimes, it’s not even about incomes. For many military spouses, 92% of whom are women, this [00:03:30] is about having a sense of purpose. It’s about having a career. It’s about being able to do what you want to do, and sometimes the moves make it very difficult.
We’ve been working very aggressively with the Department of Defense. We’ve been working with the administration. We’ve been working with great companies, like Comcast, NBC, Universal, to find out how do we create better job opportunities for spouses around bases, finding out how we create more job portability? How do we tackle the licensing and the credentialing issues, [00:04:00] so that military spouses don’t have to make a decision between their career and having their family stay in the military.