As part of the franchising industry’s support of the White House Joining Forces initiative, IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira joined President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden onstage to mark the hiring of 290,000 veterans and military spouses who have been hired or trained since the launch of the initiative in 2011. Franchising contributed almost a quarter of this total. Caldeira was accompanied by Tasti D-Lite CEO and IFA Hall of Famer Jim Amos, and IFA staff member Kevin Blanchard, both Marine veterans.
The First Lady and Dr. Biden noted that with the Iraq war over and the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close, more than one million service members are projected to leave the military in the next several years and transition to civilian life. And that’s on top of the hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses already out there looking for work. Hiring our veterans and military spouses will not only help them manage this transition, but shows them that our nation truly honors their service, not simply with words, but with real, concrete action that will profoundly impact their lives long after they leave the military.
The announcement reflects the building momentum within the private sector alone to hire and train veterans and military spouses. First Lady Michelle Obama applauded the work the International Franchise Association has done to help veterans find jobs and transition back into civilian life and recognized, “the IFA has helped more than 4,300 veterans own their own businesses since 2011.”
The franchising industry, led by IFA and 562 franchised businesses that are part of IFA’s VetFran strategic initiative, were part of the first private sector commitments to the White House Joining Forces initiative on Veterans Day in 2011. IFA and its membership pledged to hire and recruit 80,000 veterans and military spouses by 2014, including 5,000 wounded warriors as team members and franchise small business owners. In the first year alone, nearly 65,000 veterans have started careers in franchising – including 4,314 as franchise business owners using discounts offered by VetFran member companies.
The franchising industry has a long-standing history of supporting veterans. In 1991, IFA launched VetFran, a strategic initiative to help Gulf War veteran’s access business ownership opportunities in franchising. In 2011, Operation Enduring Opportunity was launched to expand that initiative to include hiring.
“With the war in Iraq over and the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close and more than one million service members are projected to leave the military in the next several years, franchise businesses have realized that hiring our veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense,” said IFA President & CEO Steve Caldeira. “With its rapid training opportunities, scalability, and need for operational execution and excellence in following proven systems, franchising provides an ideal structure to enable returning veterans to become leaders of and productive participants in the U.S. economy.”