Corporations Look for Ways to Hire Vets in Large Numbers

By Hermon Negash

The Razorback Reporter

Because employment for veterans is one aspect of the sometimes difficult transition from military life to civilian life, companies and programs try to help veterans find jobs.

The unemployment rate among veterans in the United States was about 4.6 percent in 2016 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Veterans face problems when looking for employment after overseas tours; among them, lacking skills necessary in the civilian workforce. The skills they possess are not easily translated on resumés.

“I can’t put on a resumé that I can assault an enemy fortification or that I can lead a squad of 12 and take as much territory as I want and hold it for as long as I want. That doesn’t work in a resumé,” Starbucks manager and Marine veteran Justin Zaelke said in an online interview on the company website.

Erika Gamboa, director of the UA Veterans Resource and Information Center, and the federal program VetSuccess on Campus try to help solve those problems.

The program, which was created under President Barack Obama’s administration, focuses on job training.

“The goal is that their training leads them to a job. They don’t place them, but they help them get the skills,” Gamboa said.

VetSuccess helps veterans decide which path they will take on their road to employment. Whether it is on-the-job training, attending vocational schools or a four-year institution, the VetSuccess helps veterans acquire the necessary skills to be qualified in their field of choice.

VetSuccess does not place veterans in jobs, veterans have to do some digging to find them. Companies and businesses across the country are poised to help. Walmart announced a plan in 2013 to hire 100,000 veterans by 2018 and expanded it in 2015 to 250,000 veterans by 2020. Tyson Foods has a “Camo to Khaki” program which highlights their commitment to hiring veterans.

Starbucks set a goal to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by 2018 and already has reached that goal, according to the website. Company executives set a new goal to hire an additional 15,000 by 2025.

In addition to veterans, Starbucks has vowed to hire at-risk youth and refugees. Because the Starbucks on the UA campus is a licensed store, meaning it is not independent and usually operates within another entity when opened within a school or a mall, the campus Starbucks does not participate in a lot of programs. Peter Loibner is a Licensed Stores district manager and is based in Little Rock. Although he deals with stores that usually don’t participate in those types of programs, he said he is proud of his company’s missions.

“I love working for a company that recognizes the best and brightest in a diverse fashion,” Loibner said.

The Starbucks on Wedington Drive in Fayetteville is not a licensed store so the location participates in initiatives that company executives plan. Ashlei Carry is the manager of the Wedington location and is an Army spouse. Carry started out as a part-time barista in April 2013 before moving to Fayetteville with her husband.