Last week, I had the privilege of joining the leadership of the Department of Veterans Affairs and thousands of veterans in Detroit for the largest veteran hiring fair in America this year.
The result: More than 1,300 veterans have already been offered jobs… and the process is still ongoing.
This extraordinary effort builds on the 90,000 veterans and military spouses that have been hired in the last year through First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative.
Job opportunities were available well beyond Detroit, with more than 200 employers across private and government sectors participating in the three day event. Veterans like Charles Emerson, who served in Afghanistan, came to Detroit seeking employment opportunities. Emerson drove all the way from Virginia and, after interviewing with a VA Medical Center in Wisconsin, was offered a job starting in September.
In addition to meetings with HR specialists, the event included a small business conference and a Veterans Open House. And the VA offered a full-range of services to the event. For example: need to sign up for e-benefits and learn about your post 9/11 GI Bill? You could do it on the spot. Counseling services? On the spot. Medical exam? On the spot. Resume writing? On the spot.
But jobs were the main attraction. With the auto industry rebounding, Chrysler, Ford and GM were on hand to hire veterans. The state of Michigan was there and hiring. The federal government was hiring. And thanks to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the private sector was well represented, and did lots of hiring.
And the jobs weren't only offered to veterans in the room. The VA made sure troops throughout the country and those still deployed in in Kuwait and Afghanistan connected with opportunities via video teleconference.
While in Detroit, I also joined the International Franchise Association (IFA) in launching a new online Veterans Franchise Toolkit and a new Veteran Franchise Mentor Network. These same initiatives were launched at franchises throughout America – Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Miami/South Florida, Minneapolis, Nashville, Norfolk, San Diego, Tampa-St Petersburg and Washington, D.C.
Since joining forces with the First Lady last November, IFA has brought more than 6,900 veterans into the franchising business. And amazing 4,000 have become veteran franchise small business owners through their VetFran program.
All told, it was a great couple of days in America.