More than 600,000 families include at least one soldier, reservist or guardsman. Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide campaign working to re-broaden the scope of military hiring through partnerships with other companies and digital programs. A discussion with Eric Eversole, Executive Director for Hiring Our Heroes.
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Interview recorded on October 21, 2016.
Read a full transcript of this interview below:
Traynham:More than 600,000 families include at least one soldier, reservist, or guardsman. Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide campaign working tirelessly to re-broaden the scope of military hiring, from a focus on soldiers to soldiers and their spouses. Hello, everyone, and welcome to the "Comcast Newsmakers." I?m Robert Traynham, and joining me is Eric Eversole. He?s the Executive Director of Hiring Our Heroes. Eric, welcome to the program.
Eversole:Glad to be here, Robert.
Traynham:It?s good to see you, as always. I want to focus for a few moments about what your mission is at Hiring Our Heroes.
Eversole:Well, you know, we started this mission a little over five years ago. At the time, we were facing a nationwide crisis of unemployment for both our veterans and their families. Post-9/11 veterans had about a 12% unemployment rate, and at the time, we just wanted to activate our network of state and local chambers, all the businesses in local communities, and simply conduct triage -- find veterans and their families jobs immediately. And we?ve done over a thousand events in the last five years, and the good news is we?ve taken what was a 12% unemployment rate and knocked it down to a little over 4% now.
Traynham:Eric, why do you think the unemployment rate -- congratulations, by the way, on that -- why do you think the unemployment rate was so high for military spouses as well as for the veterans?
Eversole:I think there were a combination of factors. One, it was a tough economic time back in 2011. But there were also some factors that, from a business perspective, a company perspective, veterans as a whole weren?t necessarily seen in the same lens they are today, as a valuable resource as an employee, or a spouse as an incredibly valuable asset. The great news on this front is that American businesses have made tremendous strides on this front. We just conducted a survey, and business now ranks veteran recruiting number three on their top priority list.
Traynham:Why do you think that it was necessary to transition not just only from a soldier, which is obviously very important, but to the soldier and to his/her spouse, as well, in terms of hiring?
Eversole:Yeah, I think, look, we?re dealing with 21st century families, and 21st century families often need two incomes. Our spouse community is incredibly well-educated. They?re smart, they?re dedicated, they know how to deal with chaos, they?re worldly, and for many spouses, like my own, they want a career. They want a family, and they want to have it all, and they deserve to have it all. And from a military perspective, that?s been an adjustment. As we move into a 21st century fighting force, we have spouses that rightfully deserve incredible employment opportunities, and we need to work to make sure they have them.
Traynham:My understanding is that you have various digital platforms and resources to be able to help the spouse but also the returning veteran. Any best-case scenarios and practices out there that actually work that you like to highlight?
versole:Well, certainly. I mean, we?re dealing with companies, including companies like Comcast, NBCUniversal that are working aggressively to find spouses employment opportunities across the country where they?re stationed, and once they find that opportunity, when they get moved to the next station, try to find them a job in that next location. So it?s really being flexible and understanding that spouses may have to move every once in a while, but you?re going to get an incredible employee, someone who?s very loyal.
Traynham:The President as well as the Congress has said that we?re going to wind down, in many ways, our military conflicts around the world. There is an anticipation that perhaps there?s going to be a little bit of a surge with veterans coming home but also perhaps maybe even a shrinking military force. Does that affect your business model in any way, shape, or form?
Eversole:Not really. You know, we?re still facing about 220,000 to 250,000 active-duty service members who transition each and every year just in normal times, so that may surge up to 270,000, 280,000, 290,000, but that capacity -- Quite honestly, the challenge for most businesses, they want to hire veterans, but they just have a tough time finding them so --
Traynham:And to that point, do you connect the dots there between the employer and the potential employee?
Eversole:We sure do, and we do that through a number of ways. You mentioned the digital programs, so we have programs like Rasuma Engine, which connects employers directly with service members through a Rasuma Engine account. We have Career Spark, which connects military spouses and profiles. So companies can go in, use these tools for free, create a search profile, the perfect candidate, and then we connect that candidate directly with that business.
Traynham:It sounds like you have a significant level of success with connecting the dots but also, to the earlier question, about making sure that the spouse is included in the decision-making process, as well.
Eversole:Yeah, you have to. You?ve seen folks like the Soldier For Life in the Army, they?ve just done tremendous work on the space and understand the needs of the 21st century workforce and the military. And so, spouses are top of mind for the services. They certainly top of mind for us, as well.
Traynham:Eric Eversole, thank you very much for joining us.
Eversole:Thank you, my pleasure.
Traynham:And thank you for joining usfor this edition of "Comcast Newsmakers." I?m Robert Traynham. Have a great day. We?ll see you next time. Bye-bye.