On Veterans Day, we recognize the service and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans, including many of our colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security. Every day, these men and women bring their skills, talents and experience to our many mission areas in order to keep our nation safe.
Because veterans play such an important role in our Department’s mission, Secretary Napolitano set a goal to employ 50,000 veterans at DHS by the end of 2012. We are proud that today, thanks to the commitment of individuals across the Department, we have reached that goal, more than a year ahead of schedule. Veterans now comprise 25 percent of our civilian workforce, in addition to the 49,000 active duty and reserve members of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Who are some of these individuals? Jim Bryant, a Human Resources Specialist at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC), is a former service member who is now helping us expand our outreach to the veteran community. Bryant, who served for 21 years in the U.S. Marines, shares information with veterans about finding jobs at FLETC – where 40 percent of employees have a military background.
Or Michael Lozano, a 20-year military veteran, whose career included a combat deployment with the U.S. Marines as a Sergeant during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and a recent deployment with the Air Force Reserve. Michael and his wife, Valery, currently serve as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Agents in the Phoenix Field Office in Phoenix, AZ.
Veterans like these bring their talents to every corner of our Department, continuing their service to our country as Transportation Security Officers, U.S. Border Patrol and ICE agents, Federal Protective Service officers, and headquarters staff.
In addition to hiring veterans, we are proud to announce that, for the second year in a row, DHS spent more than $1 billion in purchases and contracts with veteran owned small businesses, which provide critical goods and services to our Department.
As a former member of the U.S. Army, I am proud to join with my fellow veterans in the important and remarkable work of DHS. We will continue our efforts to hire veterans, to contract with veteran owned businesses, and to engage the veteran community, as we work together to build a more secure and resilient Nation.