IFA joined a live broadcast from the USS Intrepid on NBC’s Today Show in New York Wednesday to show support for Hiring Our Heroes, an industry campaign led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to employ returning veterans, as it marked the anniversary of its start in 2011.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Dr. Jill Biden of the White House Joining Forces effort, and Medal of Honor recipient and Marine veteran Dakota Meyer were among the celebrities featured live on the Today show anchored by Ann Curry, who spoke emphatically about the need to help U.S. veterans transition from the military to civilian employment. “This is the best-trained, most qualified force in American history,” Curry said. “We need to step up to make sure they are hired when they come home.” Curry’s father was a U.S. Navy veteran who met Curry’s mother in Guam.
Hiring Our Heroes Executive Director Kevin Schmiegel applauded the business community for hiring 9,000 veterans so far, but said an expanded effort is needed. Small business, said the Marine veteran who served 20 years, is central to the next phase of the campaign.
“I would like to see veterans employed by small businesses, where they can eventually become owners,” said Bloomberg, speaking to IFA representatives. He noted that IFA’s International Franchise Expo will for the first time take place in New York City June 15-17 at the Javits Center. Veterans will be invited to attend without charge. “That’s great,” Bloomberg said. Over 15,000 attendees are expected, including veterans for whom specific programming — and new discounts offered by brands such as Choice Hotels, Jiffy Lube and Cici’s Pizza — are in the plans.
Hiring Our Heroes announced a new commitment to hire and offer career opportunities to 500,000 veterans by 2014, including the 80,000 opportunities offered by franchising in IFA’s VetFran and Operation Enduring Opportunity campaigns. The commitment is now backed by Capital One, the McLean-based bank, which pledged $4.5 million to bolster Hiring Our Heroes.
Medal of Honor recipient Meyer thanked business representatives including the IFA for what they are doing. “I am grateful,” he said simply. Meyer is the third living recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, and the first living United States Marine in 38 years to be so honored.
Posted by Beth Solomon, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives & Industry Relations