Mark Elliott, head of military and veterans affairs at JPMorgan Chase and a retired U.S. Army Colonel, contributed this article.
The veteran unemployment rate is at its lowest since 2000. But that doesn’t mean the service members who are transitioning back to civilian life aren’t facing real challenges. This Veterans Day, business leaders have the opportunity to help veterans gain a better financial footing, secure meaningful jobs and get on a path to a successful post military career.
Eight years ago, when the veteran unemployment rate was at its peak of nearly 10%, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and 10 other companies started the Veteran Jobs Mission with the goal of collectively hiring 100,000 veterans. Today, that coalition includes 200+ companies and has hired 550,000 veterans – with the ultimate goal of hiring one million. This is clear evidence that businesses have an important role to play in expanding opportunity.
By working together, we can make a real impact.
JPMorgan Chase has hired more than 15,000 veterans since the coalition began – with more than 50% coming from diverse backgrounds. Not only do we value the talent they bring to the firm, we also prize what they have taught us. The critical skills each and every veteran brings – from leadership, teamwork and perseverance, to specialties like human resources management, software engineering or cyber security – enhance our organizational effectiveness and allow us to better serve customers. It also shows that hiring veterans is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for our business.
For example, JPMorgan Chase has hired a former Navy Lieutenant and linguist to work in our portfolio insights team and a former army electronic technician as a software engineer. Both entered the firm after their tours of duty and have become valuable assets to their respective teams.
More than 200,000 veterans leave military service every year, and one of the biggest challenges they face is figuring out where they fit in the civilian job market. It’s a complex challenge balancing what they want to do with what they think they’re qualified to do. We need to create job opportunities and experiences that encourage our veterans to grow, even if they find themselves in a position that isn’t everything they expected.
Building veteran support systems
Our most recent commitment to NPower, a national technology training provider, is a great example of this. They support hundreds of under-resourced veterans in communities around the U.S. to develop the digital and professional skills needed to succeed in careers in technology. NPower’s training and job placement programs support the transition of unemployed veterans into the civilian job market in growing areas such as cyber security and coding.
When we build support systems like this for our own veteran employees, we have found them to be successful. For example, our Military Pathfinder Program is a yearlong program pairing military veterans of any experience level with veterans and non-veteran mentors focused on private sector transition. By taking this approach, we’re helping veterans get more comfortable working in a business environment and learning from the experiences of their fellow employees.
In August, the Business Roundtable, an association representing nearly 200 chief executives of major American companies, committed to their organizations to find ways to create economic opportunity for all stakeholders — especially the customers, employees and communities they serve. This Veterans Day, I urge all business leaders to reflect on that commitment and support the women and men who protect our country.
When given the opportunity, these brave individuals can achieve great things in the civilian job market. They can help us build a stronger country and a stronger economy — one that is team-oriented and resilient.