Helping America's most vulnerable®

How the Private Sector is Helping Veterans

Last year, the unemployment rate for American veterans fell to its lowest level in seven years, which is a good indicator of an improving economy paired with the success of programs designed to put veterans to work when they return home. The Department of Veterans Affairs and state programs have policies in place to smooth the transition to civilian life. This Veterans Day is a good opportunity to acknowledge the amazing collaboration between government agencies and the private sector that helps amplify our collective efforts.

Many non-profit organizations, including Volunteers of America, work hand in hand with government agencies and private companies to help veterans tackle the challenges they face while setting them up to thrive.

One of the most effective strategies companies can employ is to identify soft skills learned in the military that translate well to the workplace. For example, in partnership with Volunteers of America, Sodexo has developed a series of three professional development webinars customized specifically for veterans looking for employment. At Sodexo, approximately 10 percent of their new hires are veterans.The Home Depot and The Home Depot Foundation are among the most highly visible examples of how the private sector is working to better the lives of veterans. The company has put more than 35,000 veterans to work since 2014.

Additionally, through the Foundation and Team Depot, a 385,000-strong group of volunteers, the organization comes to the aid of military veterans and their families with the ambitious goal of ending military veteran homelessness. The partnership between Volunteers of America and the Foundation has funded more than 73 housing projects, providing more than 2,500 units for veterans, including more than 400 units specifically for women veterans and their families.

The Foundation recently committed to increasing its overall funding for veteran-related causes to a quarter of a billion dollars by 2020.

As the daughter of an Army colonel who fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, taking care of each and every one of our veterans is especially close to my heart. All too often our veterans are seen as overqualified or overlooked because their skills don't precisely translate, and it will take more than job fairs and recruiting events to bridge this gap. We must help today's companies understand how integrating veterans into their workforce can make their organizations stronger and more resilient.

Human capital is our nation's most valuable resource, and finding the best ways to apply it, is imperative to building a strong economy and fostering job security when our men and women in uniform return home. Our veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to defend our freedom, and a hero's welcome needs to extend beyond the jetway. It will be up to the private sector to step up to the plate, and it's encouraging to see many tackling the issue.

Jatrice Martel Gaiter is the executive vice president of external affairs at Volunteers of America.