Unemployed veterans finding jobs as more businesses pledge to hire

By Taylor Klusman

The Razorback Reporter

More than 18,400 of veterans who reside in Arkansas are living in poverty.

According to the Veterans Data Central website, the unemployment rate in 2016 ranged from 1.8 to 7.6 percent, ensuring that Arkansas’s 3.1 percent was relatively low when compared to other states.

“Among the 453,000 unemployed veterans in 2016, 60 percent were age 45 and over, 36 percent were age 25 to 44, and 4 percent were age 18 to 24,” according to information found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.

As the numbers come to light, many businesses and companies have begun to offer various promotions and support groups to help find jobs for these veterans.

Blair Cromwell, senior manager-opportunity for Walmart corporate communications, explained the ‘Veterans Welcome Home Commitment’ that Walmart introduced in 2013 and guaranteed the continuation of until 2020.

“Since Memorial Day 2013, we have hired 179,489 veterans and have promoted 24,379 to roles of greater responsibility,” Cromwell said.

Other large corporations have also taken up the initiative of hiring veterans with an intent to reduce the poverty and homelessness that accompanies many with their return to the country after fighting wars abroad.

Starbucks featured a new pledge on their website to hire 15,000 more veterans, as they have already employed more than 10,000 veterans and military spouses since 2013, according to their website.

“Today, Americans know fewer veterans than any other generation,” the large, beginning header on 1912pike.com read. The article quoted veteran employees from various Starbucks locations describing their everyday jobs working with civilians.

“In the next 10 years, more than two-thirds of veterans will be over the age of 65,” according to the Veterans Data Central website.

Amazon joined the trend with their announcement in May 2016 to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2021—over two times the number of veterans they employ.

Similarly to Starbucks, Amazon’s employment page of their website highlights the Amazon Warriors, a group of employees that have joined in support of veterans as well as current military personnel.

Angela Seawood Williams, assistant vice chancellor for career services and executive director of the Career Development Center, described the program’s services as providing “career counseling, resume reviews, mock interviews, and job search strategies.”

“Our career advisors have received special training regarding how to assist veterans with converting their military resumes to civilian resumes,” Williams said, “and they are aware of specific veterans’ job search resources.”

The CDC also has a VetSuccess Career counselor on campus specifically to help veteran students who are searching for a job.

Student Veterans, another organization on campus, was put in place to make veterans attending the university feel not as lonely, President of Student Veterans Derek Calhoun said, a veteran himself.

“Experience is very heavy in this job,” Calhoun said. “The culture in the military is very different, and the last president lacked communication with the members.”

Hiring veterans in positions like Calhoun’s can be beneficial to businesses that deal with veteran customers regularly, as sometimes it is easier to relate to someone who has had the same experience as you, Calhoun said.

Identifying veterans on campus and approaching them about joining Student Veterans is another part of Calhoun’s job description, one that would be even more difficult for a civilian president.

“It’s like playing ‘Where’s Waldo,’ but there’s so many Waldos I can’t possibly find them all,” Calhoun said.

More than 200,000 U.S. service members return to civilian life each year, each of whom have a better opportunity of being hired because of these recent pledges, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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