The men and women of the United States Armed Forces have long served their country beyond the call of duty on the battlefield, returning home to contribute their talents to the ever-changing, multi-faceted U.S. workforce. My father, Daniel J. Edelman, was a veteran, serving his country overseas during World War II before returning to Chicago to found Edelman.
My father, like so many other veterans, found that the various skills and leadership traits he developed in the military could be translated to the evolving landscape of corporate America. In fact, this was true for so many veterans that in 1980, 59 percent of CEOs had a military background. Why then does that same statistic stand at just 6 percent today?
Questions such as this have sparked conversation around the country as groups from the local community level to the White House seek a solution to the veteran unemployment crisis.
There are several challenges surrounding this problem, including a narrative that is filled with myths and misperceptions. Edelman Chicago has partnered with a consortium of Illinois business and community partners on a pro bono basis to change that narrative. This consortium, titled Veterans as Strategic Assets, seeks to create a functional, integrated approach to finding meaningful employment for Illinois’ student veterans.
As part of our work with this initiative, Edelman Berland conducted a survey that showed while 84 percent of employers are actively seeking out and recruiting veterans, the unemployment rate among post 9-11 veterans remains higher than the national average. Further, 84 percent of surveyed employers said that they are “very likely to consider hiring someone who has served in the military,” yet 90 percent of the surveyed unemployed veterans are still searching for work and 67 percent agree that employers don’t understand how military skills can be applied to the workplace. These statistics represent a significant gap between employers and veterans.
Veterans as Strategic Assets seeks to bridge this gap by enabling veterans to translate the invaluable skills they possess while communicating to employers how those skills can be directly applied within the workplace.
Edelman joined this initiative because veterans possess the skills that employers are seeking. I am confident about veterans having great skills employers need because the veterans we have hired at Edelman are valuable contributors to our business. Through our commitment to Veterans as Strategic Assets, we honor Dan Edelman’s legacy while building a shared future of success for our nation’s heroes.
John Edelman is managing director, global engagement and corporate responsibility.