Editor’s Note: The following blog post is a Department of Labor contribution.
As of November 2018, the current Veteran unemployment rate was 3.1 percent, down from 12.1 percent in 2011. While Veterans are finding jobs, which is great, entering into meaningful careers with promising future prospects still demands attention. To address this barrier and help connect Veterans with employers focused on providing careers, the Department of Labor (DOL) launched the congressionally-mandated HIRE Vets Medallion Award Program to recognize employers that are committed not just to hiring Veterans, but retaining them in meaningful, family-sustaining careers.
In 2018, DOL rolled out a successful program demonstration, and Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recognized 239 large, medium, and small companies that qualified for the HIRE Vets Medallion Program Demonstration Award. These companies came from 44 states, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, and collectively they hired more than 8,350 Veterans in 2017.
What sets HIRE Vets Medallion recipients apart is that they understand the challenges that Veterans face when entering the workforce, how to address them, and how to help Veterans succeed.
There are many Veteran employment-related awards, lists, and rankings. However, the sheer diversity of organizations and criteria make it overwhelming for Veterans (and others) to differentiate between the employers committed to providing jobs and the employers committed to providing meaningful, long-term careers. The HIRE Vets Medallion Award is the only federal Veterans’ employment award that recognizes employers’ commitment to Veteran hiring, retention, and professional development—and it carries the full weight of the federal government.
Veterans frequently transition out of their first, post-service jobs in order to look for better opportunities. One challenge is that the cost of job-related certifications (e.g., EMT, paramedic) can prevent Veterans from obtaining positions with greater security or higher pay. And, on the whole, hiring Veterans receives far greater attention than retaining and training Veterans to position them for long-term prosperity, and the long-term is key. The HIRE Vets Medallion Award Program recognizes employers that are focused on this long-term goal, through providing Veteran integration assistance programs such as leadership opportunities, professional development, and training, among others.
For example, the companies recognized by the 2018 HIRE Vets Medallion Program Demonstration focused on helping their Veterans succeed in myriad ways:
- Companies have Veterans on staff to help new employees become more well-rounded leaders in the company and their community
- They group employees into small teams, giving their Veterans the chance to take full advantage of the small unit leadership skills they learned in the military
- Companies work to ease the transition from military to civilian life by providing a structured work environment that also focuses on the comradery service members love
- They help their Veterans set specific career goals and plans and identify training opportunities to achieve those goals
There are a number of resources for service members to help them navigate their transition to civilian careers. DOL partners with agencies and programs, such as the VA, to ensure transitioning service members and Veterans have access to world-class resources that support their skill sets. DOL’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) offers access to resources such as American Job Centers, the TAP Employment Workshop and the Career Exploration and Planning Track (CEPT) workshop. Now, with the HIRE Vets Medallion Award Program, DOL can provide these resources while helping Veterans more easily identify employers dedicated to furthering their careers.
“America’s Veterans are proven leaders who bring skills, dedication, and determination to our nation’s workforce,” says U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “To earn a HIRE Vets Medallion Award, job creators must demonstrate a solid commitment to providing Veterans with the opportunity to build a meaningful career. This program recognizes a standard for excellence in Veterans hiring, and helps Veterans identify employers who are committed to advancing Veterans in the workplace.”
The HIRE Vets Medallion Award Program isn’t just about jobs – it’s about Veteran careers. The 2019 HIRE Vets Medallion Award Program will open to employers from January 31 through April 30, 2019. Visit HIREVets.gov to learn more about the 2019 program, requirements, and to see the list of 2018 medallion award recipients.