Monday, May 10, 2010

Seattle Strives to "Hire America's Heroes" - Reporting on a Remarkable Symposium

Last week, I had an extraordinary opportunity to learn in depth about the work of a remarkable organization in Seattle entitled “Hire America’s Heroes.”

Hire America's Heroes Website

“Hire America's Heroes is dedicated to sharing and promoting sponsor corporations' best practices and success strategies by which America's military service members, upon transition from active duty, are welcomed into the corporate workforce.

These best practices cover: transition from military to corporate culture, corporate recruiting topics, hiring and on-boarding practices, and strategies for retaining military hires in the corporate workforce.

Hire America's Heroes reaches out to the entire military family which includes spouses and Wounded Warrior care-givers.”

I had been introduced to the organization’s founder, Marjorie James, by a mutual friend, Elliott Nolan. After Marjorie and I became acquainted on the phone and she learned about my involvement with helping veterans transition from the military to jobs in the private sector, she invited me to attend the one day Symposium held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (formerly McChord Air Force Base) south of Tacoma, Washington.

For me, one of the highlights to the day (in addition to the flight aboard an Air Force C-17 which I will write about in a separate posting) was hearing how some of the Seattle-based employers are trying out innovative ways to increase their focus on recruiting and hiring veterans, especially those returning from deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. For example, Sean Kelley and R.J. Naugle of Microsoft Corporation’s Veteran Program talked about they fact that Microsoft has recently allocated $2,000,000 to a program called “Elevate America Veterans."

“Through a competitive funding process, Microsoft will award $2 million in cash and $6 million software over the next two years to eligible nonprofit organizations or partnerships of organizations, including veterans service organizations (VSO's), workforce agencies, community colleges and other nonprofit agencies that demonstrate proven, successful performance in serving veterans and their spouses in job training and job placement. These organizations must be able to provide the support services these individuals and families need to be successful in their career transition, including things like childcare and transportation assistance. Additionally, organizations and companies from every industry are invited to join in the coalition by contributing financial and in-kind support and expertise to the initiative.”

Elevate America Veterans Website

In addition, Microsoft has an active veteran’s organization within the corporation called “We Still Serve.”

Tay Yoshitani, President and CEO of the Port of Seattle, and a West Point graduate and Army veteran, shared news of an initiative that the Port of Seattle has pioneered. Each year for the past four years, the Port has selected three veterans to serve internships in a rotational leadership development program. All of the graduates have moved into permanent full-time jobs – either with the Port itself or with related companies.

Also reporting to the gathered representatives about initiatives that they have undertaken to broaden the recruitment of veterans to their companies were representatives from Boeing, State Farm Insurance, Comcast and Volt Technical Resources.

I was inspired to take the knowledge of what is being done in Seattle and use that knowledge to inspire others in the Boston area and beyond to replicate these programs and initiatives.

If you and your firm want more information on how to be more proactive in reaching out to recruit and to hire veterans, let me know. We have a group that has formed in Boston called “Leveraging the Vet Effect,” operating in cooperation with MyVetwork, to help returning veterans to ease their transition from the military to civilian life.

MyVetwork Website


1 comment:

Marjorie James said...

Hello Al-
Thank you for this wonderful re-cap of the Hire America's Heroes event last week in Seattle. I am delighted that you made the trip, glad you enjoyed the C-17, and look forward to continuing to work together on behalf of America's finest!
Marjorie James, President
Hire America's Heroes