HEROES WORK HERE CONFERENCE HELD IN CHICAGO
by: Troops to Trades
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
CHICAGO (WLS) — The unemployment rate among veterans in Illinois is much higher than the national average. ABC7’s parent company, Disney, is leading a push to encourage business leaders to hire more veterans.
Across the country, the number of unemployed military veterans is in the hundreds of thousands. While the number has been decreasing the past couple of years, Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald said more needs to be done.
“They move mountains. And we should be moving mountains for them,” McDonald said.
McDonald was one of the speakers at a seminar called Heroes Work Here, an event coordinated by the Walt Disney Company, Easter Seals Dixon Center, and USAA. The target audience: human resources administrators and recruiting professionals who were encouraged to build or expand their veteran-hiring programs. Organizers say employing veterans is a smart business move.
“Under harsh conditions and under good conditions, they have the capacity to really make a positive difference on a daily basis,” Col. David Sutherland, Easter Seals Dixon Center, said.
As part of the seminar, veterans shared their stories with finding a career after the military. J.R. Martinez said his military training served him well with taking on new challenges, including acting on “All My Children” and competing on “Dancing with the Stars.”
“It’s about empowerment. It’s about giving them an opportunity. It’s about making them feel connected and making them feel like they matter,” Martinez said.
Staff Sergeant Travis Mills said he understands employers might have concerns about the emotional well-being of a veteran. Mills, a quadruple amputee, said veterans are assets, not liabilities.
“I think there’s too much emphasis on veterans being affected by some illness or something like that. That’s not just the case, it’s a low percentage. And the work place needs to know that’s not the veteran you’re hiring,” Staff Sergeant Mills said.
The Heroes Work Here initiative is in its third year and more seminars are planned for 2016.
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