This post was written by Michael Veysey, director of Veterans Programs at Cisco
Since September 11, 2001, men and women in the U.S. armed forces have fought in our nation’s longest wars. This all-volunteer force has endured sacrifices that most of us will never know or experience—all to protect our peace and freedom. So, hiring a qualified veteran into our ranks is our chance to say “thank you“ to our nation’s heroes.
Hiring veterans is not only a good thing to do, it also makes good business sense. Their knowledge, training, and experience, often under extreme conditions, demonstrate that they can thrive in a competitive and dynamic business environment.
Specific attributes our veterans possess include leadership ability, a strong sense of mission, adaptability, resiliency, and trustworthiness. The Business Case For Hiring a Veteran, Beyond the Clichés was published by the Syracuse University Institute for Veterans and Military Families on March 7, 2012. It describes ten ways in which veterans bring value to companies. Also, see Employing America’s Veterans, Perspectives from Businesses, published by the Center for a New American Security in June 2012.
At Cisco, recruiting and hiring veterans is a priority. Since the inception of Cisco’s Corporate Affairs Veterans Program in August 2011, we have hired more than 150 veterans, as of June 30. Our employee surveys rely on self-identification, but we estimate that Cisco employs a little more than 2000 U.S. veterans overall.
We’re working closely with Futures Inc., a North Carolina software firm that has developed a national talent-management platform (“pipeline“) that offers cloud-based career and job resource solutions to businesses, educators, job seekers, and transitioning military personnel. Futures technology uses propriety “match-strength technology“ to allow transitioning military personnel to explore civilian and government opportunities matched to their specific military skill set and job codes.
We are also conducting virtual job fairs and attending hiring events with our 100,000 Jobs Mission corporate partners. Collectively, these 55 companies have committed to hiring 100,000 veterans by 2020. In the next 12 months, approximately 150,000 service personnel will transition out of the military, further impacting the veteran employment picture.
Our second priority is veteran education and training. Cisco’s Networking Academy program is at 21 military locations in the United States. As of July 2012, 32,914 U.S. military personnel have learned ICT skills through the program. We believe that if transitioning military personnel avail themselves of the Networking Academy courses before they leave active duty, they will have a greater chance of finding meaningful jobs after their discharge. And, it could have a huge financial impact on our country, which currently spends about US$20 million a month on veterans’ unemployment benefits.
Our third priority is healthcare. Traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress are the signature wounds of the post-9/11 conflicts. We believe these injuries will present challenges to our veterans for many years to come, and we are looking to establish long-term programs with the healthcare industry and government agencies. Veteran suicides (approximately 18 per day) and homelessness are other key areas where we want to make an impact.
Today, veteran causes are very popular, with government, the private sector, and nonprofits providing much-needed support and resources. For example, there are some 40,000 veteran services organizations alone. But most likely, as the war in Afghanistan draws to a close in 2014, veterans causes will no longer be front-and-center in the public eye. However, veteran issues, particularly in the mental health area, will exist for decades. It is imperative that with our technology, we play a part in establishing long-term, sustainable solutions and connecting veterans with the resources they so sorely need.
Our seven Vets Employee Resource Group (ERG) chapters are the human network for the work we’re doing in the veterans area. They’ve held multi-site Veterans Corporate Technology Days, organized care package campaigns and holiday letter programs, and designed and installed wireless access for the new Fisher House at Fort Belvoir, Virginia—a facility that provides free lodging for families of military personnel and veterans being treated at a nearby military hospital.
One of the Vets ERG’s most notable achievements is Operation Morale Call, which will use Cisco TelePresence technology to connect the U.S. Army base at Kandahar, Afghanistan with the USO at Fort Bragg, California, and the U.S. Marine base at Camp Leatherneck in Afghanistan with the USO in San Diego. When this program goes live later this month, it will connect deployed troops with their loved ones back home through a true-to-life video and audio experience.
As we celebrate our nation’s independence, we are proud to be using human and technology networks to multiply our impact on veterans, military personnel, and their families.