The following blog is a cross-post of an op-ed that appreared in The Daytona Beach News-Journal:
An applicant walks into a job interview. She extends a firm handshake, looks the hiring manager straight in the eye, and begins to detail her impressive qualifications.
Her resume tells part of her story: She’s dependable, hard-working and loyal above all else. Teamwork and commitment to the mission at hand are hard-wired into her DNA. She has received world-class training from one of the most revered and demanding organizations in the world. And she has been tested, time and again, in pressure-cooker situations that few can imagine.
What’s more, if she is hired, the company will receive a tax credit from the federal government of $5,600 or more.
The interviewer knows everything he has just seen and been told is true, because sitting before him is a veteran of the United States armed forces.
As the U.S. Secretary of Labor, I have no more sacred responsibility than making sure we serve our military heroes as well as they’ve served us. Not only do our veterans deserve good-paying civilian jobs for putting their lives on the line to defend our country, but employers deserve the productivity and profits that will flow from putting these extraordinary Americans to work.
Right now, the unemployment rate for veterans who served after the attacks of September 11th stands at 8.9 percent. While that rate has fallen dramatically from 12.4 percent a year ago, we can do better.
Today at the American Veterans National Conference here in Daytona Beach, I will discuss the administration’s efforts to help returning service members launch rewarding civilian careers. My Veterans’ Employment and Training Service is leading the effort to assist these brave Americans, whether they’re coming home from a recent tour in Afghanistan or have served in past conflicts.
We call it our P3 campaign: prepare, provide and protect.
First, we’re preparing our veterans to communicate their value to hiring managers through employment workshops—an intensive, three-day curriculum that helps them write strong resumes, hone their interview techniques and match their military skills with those required in civilian jobs.
As President Obama has said, if these men and women can save a life in Afghanistan, they can save a life in an ambulance. And if they can oversee millions of dollars of assets in Iraq, they can help a business balance its books here at home.
Second, we’re providing a wealth of resources through our American Job Center network. Veterans are given priority assistance at any of our 2,800 local employment centers nationwide. Post 9/11 veterans are eligible for a “Gold Card,” which entitles them to six months of intensive service and personalized case management to put them on a path to success in today’s competitive labor market.
We also have innovative online resources. At MyNextMove.org/vets, they can enter in their military occupation code and discover civilian jobs where their skills translate. Or they can enter a specific field and browse hundreds of different career options. And for those looking to change careers, the site lists local institutions in their community that offer training or apprenticeship programs that provide on-the-job experience.
We’ve also partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to create a job bank (nrd.gov) with hundreds of thousands of private-sector job opportunities targeted specifically to veterans. The site includes a special section to help wounded, ill and injured service members with recovery and rehabilitation so they can get back to work.
Third, we’re protecting the rights of veterans to receive priority consideration for employment in the federal workforce. President Obama signed an executive order to bolster the government’s recruitment and retention of veterans. Since that order, more than 225,000 veterans and Reservists have been put to work by the country they’ve heroically served.
More than 27 percent of the federal workforce now consists of veterans. We employ thousands of veterans in my department alone, and they are some of the most incredible members of my staff.
Under federal law, it is illegal for any employer to discriminate on the basis of military service. Since 9/11, my department has educated more than 800,000 veterans about their employment rights. And last year, more than 90 percent of cases brought under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act were resolved by my staff in less than 90 days.
I am honored to work in the nation’s capital to help our veterans find rewarding careers worthy of their sacrifice to this great nation. Our service members who fight to protect our freedoms abroad shouldn’t have to fight for jobs when they return home.
So my message to America’s veterans at today’s Daytona conference will be simple and straightforward: We’re committed to you. Your skills, your experience, and your dedication are crucial to our economic recovery.
And my message to U.S. employers in Daytona today—and across the country every day—is equally important: The best way to honor our veterans is to employ them. This act of patriotism is the right thing to do for your country and your company’s bottom line.