Celebrate the Fourth; hire a veteran
By David C. Olson
Independence Day is fast approaching. As we fly our flags, it’s an appropriate time to honor those individuals who have fought for and preserved our American freedoms. Minnesotans can especially be proud of the role of our military men and women.
Many of us have witnessed “welcome home” parades for the returning members of our armed forces. And though it’s a “feel good” moment for veterans, the limelight can quickly fade as they face the realities of returning to civilian life – often with the prospect of no gainful employment. As we celebrate the Fourth of July, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce encourages all employers to give veterans the gift of lasting independence.
The fact is that Minnesota veterans are unemployed; that’s cause for concern. The national jobless rate for veterans from the post-9/11 Gulf War is 9.2 percent, according to latest statistics. The good news is that the number has dropped about a percent since the beginning of the year. The bad news is that veterans’ unemployment is still appreciably higher than Minnesota’s overall jobless rate of 5.6 percent.
Minnesota has been especially proactive in supporting returning veterans and their families through the Yellow Ribbon campaign. Through this designation, communities commit to creating a comprehensive network that connects and coordinates agencies, organizations, resources and employers to assist members of armed forces. The first Minnesota community was proclaimed a Yellow Ribbon city in 2008; more than 100 are expected to be on board by the end of this year.
The state of Minnesota has made it particularly easy for employers to connect with veterans by following three steps:
Post your available job on www.MinnesotaWorks.net and label it “veteran friendly.” Visit your nearest Minnesota Workforce Center at www.positivelyminnesota.com and contact a veterans employment representative; let him or her know you want to hire a veteran. Connect with your local Yellow Ribbon Network to find service members who may be looking for a new opportunity; find your network at www.BeyondTheYellowRibbon.org.
The Minnesota Chamber, as a strong supporter of Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, advocated for veterans at the 2012 Legislature. Employers now have the right under the letter of the law to express a hiring preference for all veterans, and spouses of veterans who have died or have a service-related disability.
It’s also clear that veterans, on their own merit, are deserving of jobs. The shortage of qualified workers has been well documented in Minnesota. Veterans present a bright spot in that regard. Members of the Guard and Reserve offer ideal employee traits. Their performance in the service depends on being “on time, all the time” with a focus on responsibility and professionalism. Their worldwide service gives them an appreciation of the competition that employers face in the global marketplace. And they can be counted on for their leadership.
We salute the men and women of our armed forces and welcome them into our workplaces.
David Olson is president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. For more information, visit the Web at www.mnchamber.com.