‘Hiring Our Heroes’ Helps Veterans Transition Out of Combat and Into Life


It’s well documented that the return to civilian life can be a rocky one for U.S. veterans. Doubling that difficulty is that they’re returning to a country in the throes of a dismal job market.

Those circumstances are what led the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to begin a life-altering program it calls “Hiring Our Heroes.”

Since 2011, Hiring Our Heroes has held well over 500 job fairs for military veterans and their spouses, which have included a wide range of industries.

But one field that’s particularly invested in participating is the cable industry, which is holding a Hiring Our Heroes job fair June 11 in Washington, D.C. Over 30 companies are expected to attend.

Joy Sims, a senior director with the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, tells TakePart that her organization takes a personal interest in veterans’ welfare. “Our president and CEO is actually a veteran himself. He is very close to veterans’ causes and wants to help in any way that he can,” she says.

And apparently, it runs in his family, “Our president and CEO is Michael Powell, and he is the son of Colin Powell.”

Whatever their military pedigree, the veterans who attend Hiring Our Heroes events are often eager, but feel ill-prepared to face a civilian job market. A key component to the hiring fair is the opportunity for participants to also receive employment counseling.

Bryan Goettel, the communications director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tells TakePart, “For many of them in the post 9/11 generation, after coming back it’s their first time interacting with employers, and just from the basics of putting their resume together, doing an interview, even how to dress can be new for a lot of them,” he explains.

But serving overseas naturally trains soldiers to carry a multitude of transferrable skills—ones they don’t always realize are highly prized by employers.

Goettel says, “You take a veteran who has served overseas, worked under the most stressful conditions, they’re very mission-oriented, they work well in teams, great leadership…that’s somebody who shows up to work on time.”

And while making sure returning service people can earn a paycheck, Goettel also recognizes how crucial employment can be to their sense of self-worth.

“Veteran or not, employment can also be a driving factor in happiness in your life,” Goettel says. “Other issues like suicide and divorce and financial strain a lot of those can be tied back to your employment situation. It’s our duty, being in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce…we feel we not only have a duty to the employers but to the veterans who have served our country knowing how critical employment is to a person’s wellbeing.”

A U.S. serviceman talks about landing a job through a Hiring Our Heroes event.

He adds, “These are in our minds, candidates that will only make a business better. As we like to say, ‘This isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do for business.’ ”

If you’re a veteran and either you or your spouse would like to find out more about getting hired in the cable industry, visit the Hiring Our Heroes website.

And if you can’t make it Washington D.C., you can still attend a multitude of other hiring events happening across the country.

What else should be done to transition veterans back to civilian life? Let us know in the Comments.

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