Historically, the American military has produced some of our country’s most productive men and women. Considering that U.S. Armed Forces are the most capable military in the world, it’s not surprising that veterans who excel during their time in the military go on to accomplish great things following their service.
The July 2016 jobs report out of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals an increase in the unemployment rate for American veterans, and post-9/11 veterans, in particular. Data from the report indicates that for some veteran groups, unemployment is upwards of 20% higher than the national average. Past statistics portend an unfortunate reality for these veterans, who, like all people, want to enjoy productive and meaningful work.
Unemployment among veterans is a waste of American talent, as our military trains the most diverse and tech-savvy workforce in the country. Recognizing the ways in which this demographic is underserved, a number of targeted initiatives have emerged to help veterans secure employment that aligns with their military experience and individual interests. These initiatives are niche–anything but conventional, one-size-fits-all hiring campaigns.
Below, I’ve highlighted programs and hiring initiatives which have narrowed their professional focus in an effort to better serve veterans. Some provide entrepreneurial-minded vets with industry-specific networking and training opportunities. Others serve veterans who want to make inroads in the tech industry. Veterans who have valuable cyber-security experience, and/or robotics and drone-oriented skill sets, represent untapped resources to tech companies.
Founded in Silicon Valley, Vets in Tech (ViT) is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that helps American veterans make inroads at top-tier tech companies. When the organization first formed, Vets in Tech operated within the Bay Area and has since expanded its efforts nation-wide. ViT maintains partnerships with tech companies and also hosts panels, networking events, and hackathons to connect highly-skilled veterans with meaningful work.
RallyPoint was founded in 2012 by two veterans, Yinon Weiss and Aaron Kletzing, who started the company while both were attending Harvard Business School. A networking platform in the mold of LinkedIn, RallyPoint is a supportive community that helps veterans find jobs and provides them with opportunities to connect with mentors whose military background and professional interests match their own. RallyPoint is venture-backed and was incubated at the Harvard Innovation Lab. In 2012, the company received $100,000 through the MassChallenge accelerator program.
Operation Boots to Business: From Service to Startup offers training for veterans who are interested in entrepreneurship and starting businesses. The Boots 2 Business curriculum teaches veterans how to evaluate business concepts and offers information to help veterans access start-up capital.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) provides tools and resources for female veterans and female military spouses to become successful entrepreneurs. V-WISE offers two different training programs: a growth track for women who’ve already started businesses and a start-up track focused on potential entrepreneurs.
As host of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart ran a five-week industry boot camp designed to introduce more veterans to the television business. Stewart, by and large, had stayed away from publicizing the boot camp. However, upon leaving “The Daily Show” in 2015, he told audiences about the program and urged other shows to develop their own programs to bring more veterans into the industry.