Entries in Veterans (21)


Veterans Group: Walmart's Veterans Initiative Is Step in 'Right Direction'

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Walmart's promise to hire any honorably discharged veteran in his or her first 12 months off active duty seems like a noble one, but how good is the pay?

In the U.S., the average wage for a full-time hourly Walmart associate is $12.57, according to the company.  That's $26,108 a year at 40 hours a week, or just above the federal poverty level of $23,050 for a family of four.

The median salary for W-1 enlisted military personnel with eight years of experience is $45,528, which is also the "most stressful job for 2013," according to

The basic pay for E-1 active duty soldiers with less than two years of experience starts at around $18,194.  That may be lower in the first four months of service, the Army says on its website, but that does not include the free housing, health benefits, or food allowance also offered.

Walmart said beginning Memorial Day for the veterans, most of the jobs offered will be in Walmart stores and clubs while others will be in distribution centers and its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

Michael Dakduk, executive director at Student Veterans of America, said initiatives to hire veterans are "absolutely critical given the unemployment rate of military veterans."

"It's commendable, but I would like to see veterans employed and really looking towards long-term success," Dakduk said.  "That's why education is absolutely critical.  It's not just about being employed but it's about not being underemployed."

Walmart projects it will hire more than 100,000 veterans during the next five years.  As the biggest private employer in the U.S., the company has 1.4 million U.S. associates working in 4,601 stores and clubs in the U.S.

"We believe Walmart is already the largest private employer of veterans in the country, and we want to hire more," said Paul Simon, Walmart U.S. president and CEO, in a statement.  "I can think of no better group to lead in revitalizing our economy than those who have served in uniform.  Through their service, veterans give us a land of freedom.  When they return, it must be to a land of possibility."

The company's announcement came alongside news that it will boost spending on products sourced in the U.S. by $50 billion over a decade.

Simon said he wants company associates "to find career opportunities they want with Walmart."

About 75 percent of store managers started as store associates, according to Randy Hargrove, a spokesman for Walmart.

The average pay for store managers is $50,000 to $170,000 a year, said Hargrove.  The highest-paid store manager last year made $250,000.

"When you're talking about our store associates and rising through the ranks every year, we promote about 170,000 people to jobs with more responsibilities and higher pay," Hargrove said.

The company also said its employee turnover rate in the U.S. is less than the industry trade average: 37.2 percent versus 43.6 percent, respectively.

Dakduk said he hopes corporate America follows Walmart's examples with more high-profile initiatives.

"If someone's unemployed, that's an issue," Dakduk said.  "There are a lot of homeless veterans and a lot of veterans that are not employed.  It's certainly a step in the right direction, and I think that's important to acknowledge."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Walmart to Roll Out Program to Hire More than 100K Vets

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Walmart announced on Tuesday that it is rolling out a program this year to hire almost any veteran who wants a job, marking one of the biggest job commitments ever made by a company.

The effort is set to begin on Memorial Day.  The company is offering a job to any veteran who received an honorable discharge within a year of applying for a position.

“Hiring a veteran can be one of the best business decisions you make,” Walmart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon said in a statement.  “Veterans have a record of performance under pressure.  They’re quick learners and team players.  They are leaders with discipline, training, and a passion for service.  There is a seriousness and sense of purpose that the military instills, and we need it today more than ever.”

Walmart expects it will hire more than 100,000 veterans in the next five years.

“We believe Walmart is already the largest private employer of veterans in the country, and we want to hire more,” Simon said.  “I can think of no better group to lead in revitalizing our economy than those who have served in uniform.  Through their service, veterans give us a land of freedom.  When they return, it must be to a land of possibility.”

Walmart reached out to first lady Michelle Obama, who was "very excited" about the company's commitment.

“This is exactly the kind of act we hoped would be possible when we started Joining Forces -- a concrete example of our nation's love and support that our troops, veterans, and their families can feel in their lives every day,” said Mrs. Obama.  “As our wars come to an end and our troops continue to come home, it's more important than ever that all of us -- not just government, but our businesses and nonprofits as well -- do our part to serve those who have served us so bravely."

Walmart said the White House is going to convene with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense and major American employers in the next several weeks to encourage other businesses to make similar commitments.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


LinkedIn Co-Founder Shares Secrets with US Veteran

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman says entrepreneurship is like throwing “yourself off a cliff.”

“One of the things that Silicon Valley tends to be known for is this phrase, ‘Fail fast’.  And the reason why you fail fast is not because you want failure, but because if you fail and learn, you can get to success in the long term much faster,” he said in ABC’s Standing Up For Heroes series.

A Stanford engineering grad and alum of various tech companies, Hoffman started LinkedIn in his home living room in 2002.  After launching in 2003, it became the largest professional networking service, now with over 175 million members in more than 200 countries.

As an early investor in Facebook and now a partner with venture capital firm Greylock Partners, the 45-year old’s estimated net worth is $2.1 billion, according to Forbes.

The venture capitalist recently swapped stories with U.S. veteran Jennifer Vollbrecht.

Vollbrecht, 26, is a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crew chief and mechanic.  In Iraq, she and her team of Marines risked their lives helping save others.  Currently an integration and test engineer, she faces a new challenge of transitioning into civilian life and moving past an entry-level position.

Vollbrecht asked Hoffman, who mentors young entrepreneurs as a venture capitalist, how she can fulfill her dream of being an entrepreneur.

“One of the metaphors that I use for entrepreneurship, you may or may not have heard this already, is, you throw yourself off a cliff and you assemble an airplane on the way down,” he told Vollbrecht.  “In your case, it may be a helicopter. ”

Well before he started LinkedIn, Hoffman was founder of the online dating site Socialnet.  That site flopped but was a valuable experience that led him to his investment in social media site Facebook, and the founding of LinkedIn.

While he was CEO, Hoffman eventually led LinkedIn to profitability in 2006, a key achievement for tech startups that are known to bleed money in their first several years.

“The key thing is, to figure out where you see a problem in a way other people don’t see, and evaluating whether or not that can be a company,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


LinkedIn Co-Founder Mentors Former Marine Helicopter Crew Chief

Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the war in Afghanistan begins to wind down, hundreds of thousands of troops are transferring quickly from the military world to the civilian world.  

Fewer than 1 percent of American citizens have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, so when they get home it takes time for them to restore their relationships with the people of their neighborhoods and the companies who could hire them.  It has been years since they deployed overseas so they need to relearn how to find a job and plan their longer term career.

As part of its Standing Up For Heroes Series, ABC News is pairing veterans with mentors who can help them achieve their professional goals, and perhaps at the same time, help ease this transition.  As you know, many of them have been physically or mentally wounded.  There are also hundreds of thousands who return home healthy and safe but they are also facing a very quick change in direction.

One of these veterans is former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter crew chief and mechanic Jennifer Vollbrecht, who ABC News met through American Corporate Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting veterans in their transition from the armed services to the civilian workforce.

Vollbrecht, 26, served in the Marines for five years.  She was stationed in Al Anbar Province in Iraq from 2005 to 2006, where her job as part of a helicopter crew was to transport injured military civilians and others to the hospital.  Vollbrecht was in charge of the back of the helicopter and of the door gun in the rear.

She is currently working as an integration and test engineer and hopes to move up within the corporate structure.

With this in mind, ABC News was able to reveal to Vollbrecht that her mentor would be renowned businessman and tech entrepreneur Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn.

With Reid as her mentor, she will be able to pick the brain of one of the country’s top businessmen about professional development and getting ahead in the business world.

Reid, 45, has also played key roles in the development of a number of now-dominant companies.  He was an early investor in Facebook and a founding board member at PayPal.  He currently sits on the board of directors of online game company Zynga and at the Mozilla Corporation, among others.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama to Push Military Credentialing to Boost Veteran Employment

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will unveil a new initiative on Friday that will, for the first time, allow some U.S. service members to receive civilian credentials and licenses for skills they learn in the military.

The effort, announced by the White House late Thursday, is aimed at boosting employment among post-9/11 veterans, some of whom have had difficulty obtaining jobs in high-skill industries because their training is not immediately transferrable to the private sector.

The current unemployment rate among post-9/11 veterans is 9 percent, based on a three-month weighted average, officials said.  Veteran unemployment is 8.4 percent overall.

Obama will announce that a Defense Department task force he created has penned a deal with several major U.S. credentialing agencies for engineering, logistics, machining, maintenance and welding skills to provide the “opportunity” for 126,000 service members to get “industry-recognized, nationally-portable certifications” starting this summer.

Obtaining certification in the military is no guarantee of getting a job post-service, however.  White House officials did not estimate the impact the new effort might have on veteran employment overall.

The cost of the initiative, which does not require Congressional approval, is “pretty minimal and will be paid for with existing resources,” an administration official said.  The administration plans to expand credentialing opportunities for other sectors, such as health care and information technology, by this time next year.  

The president will make his pitch at a Golden Valley, Minn., Honeywell facility that employs 65 veterans with manufacturing skills first obtained in military training/service.

“The same technical skills used at Honeywell are the same skills that military services produce in our veterans by the thousands,” an administration official said.  “But today, there is no credentialing process for that experience when veterans leave the service.  We know that there are companies having difficulties finding the right people to fill for which they’re imminently qualified.”

Honeywell has hired 900 veterans since 2011, the company said.

Obama will also use the event to call on Congress to enact the fifth item on his “to do list” -- a five-year, $1 billion “Veterans Job Corps” spending bill that would fund the hiring of veterans as first responders, conservationists, construction workers, etc., across the states.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Veterans Targeted By Marketers in College Selection Process

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Post-9/11 GI Bill offers financial support for veterans' education, leading some marketers to target vets with deceptive advertising about college opportunities and President Obama to sign an executive order on Friday to curb those abuses.

Colleges have collected more than $4.4 billion under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

Reports of aggressive and deceptive targeting by educational institutions toward service members and veterans, particularly by for-profit career colleges, moved President Obama to sign the executive order, which requires colleges to provide more information to veterans such as the likelihood of military members completing a school's programs prior to enrolling.

On Thursday, the Student Veterans of America revoked the organization's charters at 26 for-profit institutions after finding that those school groups were not led by student veterans. All 445 chapters of the Student Veterans of America are led by student veterans.

The transition from a military to civilian lifestyle could create a culture shock for many veterans, especially on an academic campus. That's why speaking to a fellow veteran before enrolling in a school is so important.

Under the executive order, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Education Department's "Know Before You Owe" financial aid form will also be required to be made available to every college student participating in the Defense Department's tuition assistance program at nearly 2,000 schools. The form provides information about tuition and fees, estimated student loan debt upon graduation, graduation rates, among other information.

Libby Sander, reporter with The Chronicle of Higher Education, said the sheer amount of information targeted toward veterans pursuing higher education is a roadblock for those unfamiliar with the college selection process, especially the first generation of families to attend college.

"A lot of the veterans I spoke to were the first in their families to go to college and it's a big deal for them," Sander said. "They sometimes start the process with a feeling that they don't even know where to begin."

Sander explores the challenges and advantages of veterans in higher education in a three-part series in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Out of Uniform.

Sander interviewed Paul Szoldra, a senior at the University of Tampa, will be the first of his family to graduate from college. During his eight years at the United States Marine Corps, Szoldra also obtained a degree from the for-profit University of Phoenix.

"We're always marketed to by the for-profits," Szoldra told ABC News.

Szoldra said programs from for-profits, often online, could be an ideal "bridge" before getting an undergraduate degree.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Cracks Down On For-Profit Schools That Prey On Veterans

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In front of thousands of service members, President Obama on Friday signed an executive order aimed at protecting veterans from for-profit educational institutions trying to “swindle” and “hoodwink” them instead of providing the education they deserve.

Speaking to the Army’s Third Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Ga., the president, with his wife at his side, described how some for-profit institutions target veterans, bombarding them with emails and phone calls, promising advanced degrees and future job placement.

“You’re dealing with folks who aren’t interested in helping you.  They’re not interested in helping you find the best program.  They are interested in getting the money.  They don’t care about you; they care about the cash,” he said. “That’s appalling.  That’s disgraceful.  It should never happen in America.”

The order, part of the president’s ongoing “We Can’t Wait” executive action campaign, is intended to crack down on these improper recruiting practices and to strengthen student protections for veterans.

“The executive order I’m about to sign will make life a whole lot more secure for you and your families and our veterans — and a whole lot tougher for those who try to prey on you,” the president said.

The order requires colleges that participate in the G.I. Bill program and the Department of Defense’s tuition program to provide veterans with the “Know Before You Owe” form, a document that outlines the financial aid available to student and how much debt they will likely take on.

The order also directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to trademark the term “G.I. Bill” to prevent educational institutions from fraudulently marketing their programs to beneficiaries of the program.

While members of Congress have introduced legislation to address these same issues, Friday’s action was intended to cast Obama as a take-charge president willing to circumvent gridlock on Capitol Hill.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Walt Disney Company to Hire 1,000 Veterans

Mark Sullivan/WireImage(BURBANK, Calif.) -- The Walt Disney Company says it's committed to doing more than just honor the men and women of the U.S. military who serve overseas.

On Tuesday, Disney CEO Bob Iger unveiled a new project called "Heroes Work Here."  The new initiative will hire "one thousand U.S. veterans across all segments of our company."

The company launched the program in coordination with an effort by the White House and Congress to help returning veterans find work.

"Heroes Work Here" will not only be dedicated to giving vets a job, but to publicly acknowledge them for their service to their country after fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition, Disney plans to invest in non-profits that offer job training and other support for veterans.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GE to Hire 5,000 Veterans, Expand Its Aviation Business

SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Good news for veterans who are out of work: General Electric announced on Monday it will be hiring 5,000 vets over the next five years.

The move comes as the company kicks off a four-day event in Washington, D.C., on Monday, "dedicated to America’s long-term economic and industry growth with discussions centered around manufacturing, innovation and jobs," GE said in a statement.

GE will partner with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for the “Hiring our Heroes” initiative and sponsor 400 job fairs across the country this year.

Along with adding more veterans to its workforce, GE also unveiled plans to expand its aviation business in 2012.  The company says it will invest $580 million, "in the expansion of its manufacturing and research & development footprints in the U.S." -- promising to add more than 400 new manufacturing jobs and open three new plants in the country next year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CT Powerball Winners Make Good on Philanthropic Promise

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(GREENWICH, Conn.) -- Three Connecticut wealth managers who won a $254 lottery million jackpot followed through on their promise to put the money toward philanthropy, announcing on Sunday donations to five charities that assist veterans.

The first recipients will each receive $200,000. They are: The Bob Woodruff Foundation, Building Homes for Heroes, Services for the Under Served, Operation First Response, and the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation, started by ABC News correspondent Bob Woodruff -- who suffered a brain injury when a military vehicle in which he was traveling was struck by an IED in Iraq -- helps injured veterans reintegrate into everyday life following deployment.

Building Homes for Heroes constructs from the ground up and also modifies homes for wounded and disabled veterans.

Under Served supports, "individuals and families facing challenging life situations such as mental illness, developmental disability, physical disability, AIDS, homelessness, unemployment and poverty," according to its website, and also has a veteran's support group component.

Operation First Response helps the families of wounded soldiers deal with the domino of costs that can come from injury.  Peggy Baker, president of the charity, called the gift a "Christmas miracle."

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund supports the families of wounded soldiers and those killed in action.

The three trustees said they felt it was important to give back to a section of American society that is underserved.

"We are leveraging our professional experience and our collective success in money management to ensure these lottery dollars go far further than their face value," the three winners, who formed the Putnam Avenue Family Trust, said in a statement.

Money managers Greg Skidmore, Brandon Lacoff, and Tim Davidson came forward on Nov. 28 to claim the jackpot 27 days after the winning numbers were announcd.  All three work for wealth management firm Belpoint Capital in Greenwich, which manages $82 million, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Skidmore is the president and CEO of the company.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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