Contact: Joshua Fitzpatrick, (518) 455-3751
After the Memorial Day parades have ended, after all the speeches have concluded, how can a grateful nation help thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans returning home to face unemployment rates well above the national average? Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) today offered an answer to this question by strongly supporting the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's "Hiring Our Heroes" program and urging New York's business community to support the effort by hiring returning veterans.
"On Memorial Day, America remembered its true heroes: the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of our freedoms. As the proud son of a veteran, I know how much a sincere expression of thanks means to those serving in uniform. However, parades and speeches are not enough to repay the incredible debt we owe our veterans. Speeches won't help a veteran find a job, pay their mortgage, or re-enter a career. We need more efforts like 'Hiring our Heroes' and 'Hiring 500,000 Heroes' that will help New York's returning veterans find good-paying jobs and career opportunities," Leader Kolb said.
Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative launched by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to help America's veterans find meaningful employment and has conducted 150 hiring fairs in 48 states and the District of Columbia to achieve this objective. The Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign, also sponsored by the Chamber, the National Chamber Foundation and Capital One, builds on the success of Hiring Our Heroes by asking businesses to hire 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014. Both of these efforts work in coordination with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's network of 1,600 state and local chambers, as well as partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors.
As noted on its website, during Hiring Our Heroes' first year, nearly 10,000 veterans have received assistance and found jobs. The program has expanded to include hiring fairs in 400 communities, along with an initiative for military spouses, as well as a sustained campaign to enlist support from the small business community to hire more veterans.
Hiring 500,000 Heroes also provides an on-line pledge form where businesses can immediately enlist in the effort to hire 500,000 veterans and their spouses by the end of 2014. The pledge form is available at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce website.
"The men and women of America's armed forces deserve every opportunity to utilize their knowledge, skills and abilities as part of our nation's workforce. With an estimated 177,000 New York veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, we need more jobs - a lot more jobs - for these courageous men and women. This is the goal of Hiring Our Heroes," Leader Kolb said.
"Hiring a veteran is good for business, good for the bottom line and good for our country. Companies add highly-motivated, highly-skilled, proven problem solvers with real-world expertise in logistics, teamwork and overcoming obstacles. In turn, veterans receive the opportunity to bring their can-do spirit and mission focus to the workplace as they build a career and showcase their professional skill set," Leader Kolb stated.
"As tough as the unemployment situation is, it's far tougher for veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. The national unemployment rate for these veterans is 12.1 percent and, for Gulf War II-Era young male veterans between the ages of 18-24, the unemployment rate is a staggering 29.1 percent. Hiring Our Heroes and Hiring 500,000 Heroes are attempting to reverse these trends," Leader Kolb said.
New York State is home to many military-friendly employers with some of the top companies including Deloitte, PricewaterhouseCoopers, JPMorgan Chase, Verizon Communications, Travelers and ITT Exelis, as noted by the website www.GIJobs.com and its online listing of the 2012 "Top 100 Military Friendly Employers."
"Memorial Day shouldn't be just once a year; everyday we should show our armed forces how much New York appreciates their service and selfless sacrifice. Veterans need more than words of remembrance and praise: they need real opportunities to put their skills to work for a company lucky enough to have them on their team. Hiring our Heroes and Hiring 500,000 Heroes should be promoted all across the state as we encourage businesses to put veterans to work in building New York's innovation economy," Leader Kolb concluded.