Corporate America Supporting those Who Serve
By Gloria Romano-Barrera
Supporting and recognizing our nation’s military and the value Veterans and their spouses offer to corporate America is at the core of the Home Depot Foundation, PenFed Credit Union, UPS, and Hilton. Whether it’s through development programs, training, hiring, or providing a support system, efforts to provide opportunities for Veterans is available across many levels, and hiring them is key to business success.
“Giving back to veterans is personal to The Home Depot Foundation, as more than 35,000 of the company’s associates have served in the military,” states Shannon Gerber, Executive Director for The Home Depot Foundation. “The Home Depot Foundation is committed to improving the homes and lives of U.S. veterans – and supports housing needs for our nation’s veterans of all eras, homeless and combat-wounded veterans.” The Home Depot Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit is also committed to filling the skilled labor gap. In 2018, the foundation launched a national trades training program, which supports separating military members as they transition to the civilian workforce. Built for Trades, their program with Home Builders Institute, began in eight locations – mostly military bases – and has since expanded to high schools in underserved communities. In its second year, the program will have enrolled more than 700 veterans and students by the end of 2019. Since 2011, The Home Depot Foundation has invested more than $315 million in veteran causes and improved more than 45,000 veteran homes and facilities in 4,300 cities – all part of their commitment to give half of a billion dollars to veteran causes by 2025. Every year, in the months leading up to Veterans Day, The Home Depot Foundation launches a campaign for associates to get involved in their communities and serve veterans. This year, between September 19 and November 11, Team Depot, the associate volunteer force, served more than 115,000 hours of volunteerism, across more than 700 projects in more than 550 cities. “Through our strategic partnerships with more than 20 national and 4,000 local nonprofit organizations, we’re able to provide critical home repairs for veteran homeowners, housing for veterans transitioning out of homelessness and accessible smart homes for our nation’s more severely injured veterans,” states Gerber. National partners in serving veterans include Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Gary Sinise Foundation, Volunteers of America, Community Solutions, U.S.VETS, Operation Homefront, Semper Fi Fund, Habitat for Humanity, to name a few. The Home Depot Foundation also partners with organizations such as Operation Blessing, Team Rubicon, Convoy of Hope, American Red Cross and All Hands and Hearts to prepare and mobilize disaster kits ahead of storms, as well as boots on the ground and hands-on support for short-term relief and long-term rebuilding. For more information visit: https://corporate.homedepot.com/foundation
“PenFed has been serving the Military Community since 1935,” states Charlie Miles (USMC, Ret.), Director, Military Employment Programs, PenFed. “It’s who we are. It’s in our DNA. We appreciate and value the service and sacrifices made by those serving our country in the military and we are committed to serving not just their financial needs but in assisting in any way we can. It’s a moral imperative for PenFed to support and give back to the Military Community.” From a military employment perspective, Miles believes that having employees from the Military community helps them better understand members’ needs, thus allowing them to better serve. He also believes the most important element of any company’s success is its people. “If you want business success you have to hire great employees and there is no better single pool of talent in the U.S. than the military,” Miles states. “The military has done all the work for us; they have screened, trained, and developed the world’s best labor force for America’s corporations.” Miles emphasizes qualities and traits of America’s warfighters. They have “mission focus, great work ethic, character and integrity, passion and drive, leading-edge training and skills, experience and responsibility beyond that found in most civilian jobs, and leadership.”
“If you are not recruiting from the Military Talent Pool, you are putting your company at a strategic disadvantage in the “War for Talent,” he shares. “It’s not about doing right by Veterans, it’s about making our organization more competitive.” Today the PenFed Foundation, a 501(c)3 charity, has been their most successful Veteran initiative as it provides service members, Veterans, and their families with financial education, home-ownership, short-term assistance, and veteran entrepreneurial support. The Foundation has provided more than $35 million in grants and emergency financial assistance since 2001. In 2018, the Foundation launched its Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program, which provides veteran-owned start-ups with seed capital to build and grow their businesses, create a robust network for veteran-owned businesses to succeed, and enables the PenFed Foundation to perpetually re-invest returns in future veteran-owned businesses. According to Miles PenFed pledges 2 percent of its annual net income to nearly 50 charities. Last year, PenFed Credit Union and the PenFed Foundation donated more than $5 million to primarily military charities. “PenFed was created to serve the military community and the dedication to serve those who serve our nation remains a core value of PenFed today,” he states. “PenFed’s commitment to be a community leader through philanthropic giving and volunteerism provides our employees with purposeful jobs that make a positive difference in our communities in which we serve, including the national defense community and all who support them. In addition, hiring great employees from the military community contributes to our overall business success.” To learn more about the PenFed Foundation resources visit: https://penfedfoundation.org/
“There are so many reasons for UPS to support veteran efforts,” states Lloyd Knight, Air Force Veteran, Senior Director at UPS Supply Chain Solutions, Chairman of the Veterans Steering Committee and Co-Founder and President of VETLANTA. “UPS wouldn’t be the company it is today without the freedoms won and protected by the nation’s military. Our workforce is comprised of thousands of veterans, and many of our customers and suppliers are veterans, so supporting this segment just makes sense. Our kinship to veterans is nothing new. One of our founders, George Casey, and four of our 12 CEOs were veterans.” Supporting veteran initiatives for generations, UPS is proud to continue its efforts in many ways. In World War II, UPS shipped care packages to their employees deployed overseas. From the 1960’s and beyond, UPS actively and proudly recruited Vietnam Veterans. For the last eight years, UPS has proudly supported American Corporate Partners (ACP). Founded in 2008, ACP aims to ease the transition from the military to the civilian workforce. Since 2011, 245 veterans have received mentorship from UPS Mentors and since 2015, 94 veterans have obtained employment during their UPS mentorships.
In 2014, UPS committed to hiring 50,000 veterans and pledged to donate 50,000 employee volunteer hours helping veterans/Veterans Service Organizations (VSOs). UPS reached its 50,000 hiring goal two years earlier than planned. The UPS Foundation has invested over $7.1 million dollars to support veterans’ initiatives since 1988. Additionally, UPS employees and retirees, along with their families and friends, have provided more than 299,000 volunteer hours for veteran-connected activities since 2015. In 2018, the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) awarded UPS the 2018 “Sustain: ABLE Award” for leadership and support of the Paralyzed Veterans of America mission, programs and services. UPS and PVA have collaborated on initiatives to better the lives of veterans since 1988. “Veterans have served their country honorably. Now they’re ready for their next challenge,” states Knight. “At UPS, they can discover opportunities that will build on their military experience, in a culture that understands and appreciates the qualities and skills they bring. We encourage veterans to discover what they can become when they join a company that values their military service and understands what they need to excel.” For more information visit https://www.jobs-ups.com/military
“Hiring veterans and military spouses is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do,” states Lauren Bacon, Senior Manager, Military Programs, Hilton. “Veterans and military spouses have skills that are highly transferable and valued in the hospitality industry like empathy, communication, the ability to work under pressure, self-confidence, cultural and generational awareness, team leadership, decision-making and problem resolution.” For Bacon, these are skills and qualities integral to creating meaningful experiences delivered to guests every day. “Hilton is opening a new hotel every day which means that we are constantly looking for new talent to bring on to our team,” she states. “We are in the business of people serving people so our Team Members truly impact our business and the experience that we are able to provide to our guests. No one knows the true meaning of service and putting others first more than veterans and military families.” Hilton is committed to helping veterans secure meaningful employment whether that be with Hilton or a different company. Operation: Opportunity was launched in 2013 with a commitment to hire 10,000 veterans and spouses within five years. That goal was hit two years ahead of schedule. Hilton also committed to hire an additional 20,000 military hires by the end of 2020. “We recently achieved that goal and plan to continue focusing on recruiting from the military community,” Bacon shares. “Through our partnership with the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) Hilton has donated over 500 million Hilton Honors points to help veterans travel for job interviews, trainings and certifications.” To learn more about this program visit https://www.naswa.org/partnerships/hilton-honors. To learn about jobs visit: jobs.hilton.com/military