Hiring Our Heroes 10,000 Hires – How We Got There

Posted July 30, 2012

By Kevin Schmiegel, Vice President of US Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of Hiring Our Heroes


Less than 15 months after the U.S. Chamber and National Chamber Foundation launched Hiring Our Heroesa nationwide campaign to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment, we have reached the milestone of 10,000 hires. At our more than 220 hiring fairs, lives have been changed – one job at a time. And there is a face to every number.

Number 10,000 is Cory Ketchum, a 23-year old Marine veteran, who was hired as a result of our April fair in St. Louis. Cory landed a job with Securitas Security Services as a flex officer, a position that involves checking IDs and patrolling perimeters at various work sites in greater St. Louis. Securitas called him the day after the hiring fair, and Cory began working one month later.

Tracking Hiring Our Heroes’ success stories is no easy task, but it’s a critical element of our program. We recognize that success breeds success, and to measure our effectiveness, we survey both employers and job seekers four times over a 90-day period following each of our hiring fairs. We’ve also begun surveying job seekers by phone to further increase our effectiveness.

Reporting metrics from our local events is only one piece of the puzzle. The real strength of Hiring Our Heroes has been our ability to coordinate a massive, public-private, grassroots campaign across America. Getting to 10,000 was a huge effort that required different groups and sectors coming together to make it happen.

Our partnerships with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), RecruitMilitary, The American Legion, the Department of Labor Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (DOL VETS), and the Department of Veterans Affairs, to name just a few, have been invaluable to our mission. And within these great organizations are great people – leaders in every community who have stepped up to help us create a movement.

They are people like Mike Flaherty, who chairs the ESGR in Montana; Terry Brennan representing Connecticut’s DOL; and Bob Looby, who kicked off our efforts with the American Legion in his role as the New Jersey State Commander last year. Mike, Terry, and Bob are at the forefront of veterans’ employment in their states, and with their help, we have conducted nine hiring fairs, placing more than 350 veterans in jobs.

We also couldn’t make the hiring fairs happen without all the support from local chambers on the ground. Dearborn Chamber President Jennifer Giering engaged Mayor John O’Reilly and virtually her entire Michigan community to take part. The effort resulted in one of our most successful events to date with 145 employers participating.

In the end, it’s those employers – companies of all sizes and from all sectors of the economy that make the difference. Thousands of them have committed to hire veterans and military spouses not only because it is the right thing to do, but because it is smart for their businesses.

Last November, Mrs. Fields Cookies hired 21 veterans in Salt Lake City, and GameStop hired 6 veterans in Atlanta. Both companies hired them on the spot at our fairs.  In March, Walmart and Orbitz/Budget Car Rental alone combined to hire 45 military spouses at our fair in Fort Hood.

From some of the nation’s largest employers such as Capital One, GE, and Prudential, to small businesses like Café 46 in Miami, FL; Muth & Company Roofing in Columbus, OH; and Walker Automotive in Alexandria, LA; employers have stepped up and recognized the value of hiring veterans and military spouses. And they have embraced our mandate for them to have jobs available in order to participate in our events.

But don’t just take it from us – the testimonials we have received say it all. Here is just one of the thousands of examples from a veteran who was hired at our fair in Fayetteville, NC on February 10:

“I’ve gone through multiple scouting agencies and job fairs over the past 3 years. I’ve traveled hundreds of miles looking for a new career, willing to relocate to practically anywhere. I’ve struggled these past three years just to get by and this job fair finally ended the search and I was able to find a job less than five miles from my home. I also had another extremely appealing offer, but would have had to relocate for that position. The Hiring Our Heroes job fair was a huge success as far as I am concerned. Thank you!”

This is what we strive for with every event. 10,000 hires is a major milestone, but we’ve only just begun. Our recent pledge with Capital One to help 500,000 veterans and military spouses find jobs by the end of 2014 is a testimony of the Chamber’s commitment to our nation’s heroes for the long haul. We won’t stop until a half a million others just like Cory find meaningful employment all across America.