When Paul White first signed up for free career services with Hire Heroes USA, his future was uncertain. For the first time since he joined the Army in 2003, he didn’t know what was coming next. Not only was Paul about to leave behind the stability of a military career , but he was entering an economy struggling to navigate a global pandemic.
“It was overwhelming,” Paul shared. “Knowing that in the next 90 to 180 days, you’re about to get out and this has been your life for all these years. You just don’t really know where to start and that’s what leads to that overwhelming feeling.”
Luckily, his Transition Specialist was there to help Paul find his path to success. And little did either of them know at the time, but Paul’s success would mark a milestone achievement for both himself and the organization. His new position as a general engineer with the U.S. Air Force’s 49th Civil Engineer Squadron would be the 50,000th confirmed hire in our organization’s history, a milestone 15 years in the making.
In 2005, it started with one. U.S. Army Sergeant Justin Callahan was severely injured in a landmine explosion while on patrol in Afghanistan. Back home as a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he met MedAssets CEO John Bardis. The two formed an immediate bond, and Bardis learned that Callahan’s biggest concern, despite his injuries, was finding employment. After offering Callahan a job on the spot, he was inspired to create Hire Heroes USA.
From Justin to Paul, our organization remains committed to empowering all veterans and their spouses to find success in the civilian workforce. For Paul, it meant having the right resume to market himself to employers and the self-assurance that he was prepared for the next chapter.
“Through [Hire Heroes USA], they allowed me to have that confidence going into a new career. I honestly believe in my heart that if I had not had the chance to work with Hire Heroes USA, I don’t think I would have that same confidence,” Paul explained.
Paul’s new career will not just provide him a salary and a new purpose, it also allows his family to rest easy knowing what was next for them.
“My wife and kids, they’re super happy,” Paul said. ”All these years, they’ve followed my career in the military. And now we’re actually going to plant some roots here in New Mexico, it’s a blessing.”
Paul’s accomplishment is one of 50,000 examples of success after service. We are proud of each and every service member, veteran and military spouse who has used our services to build a bright future over the last 15 years. We look forward to serving and empowering tens of thousands more.
If you’re a transitioning service member, veteran or military spouse who feels stuck in your job search, we can help. Click here to learn more and get signed up to be matched with your own Hire Heroes USA Transition Specialist.
Volunteers with Hire Heroes USA often meet veterans and military spouses in the process of making major life decisions. Some of them may be anxious about the future or nervous trying to imagine what a career in the civilian world will look like. Understanding the impact of decisions made at these crossroads in life, Nathan Gray was drawn to Hire Heroes in 2019 and continues to serve clients today as a mentor and coach.
“Each and every one of us has a unique story to tell, with our own unique challenges to overcome, and our own goals, dreams and journeys,” Nathan said. “I love getting to know each client, hearing their story, and helping them figure out the next leg of their journey.”
As former Army Ranger, military intelligence officer and small business owner, Nathan gladly shares his secrets to success and expansive network with Hire Heroes USA clients. One client experienced this firsthand when she connected with Nathan for a mock interview in preparation for an opportunity with a federal agency.
“I sensed she was not overly enthusiastic or engaged during our session,” Nathan said. “We discovered she was not overly excited to continue on the career field she had been working successfully in for the last several years. Instead, she realized she wanted to start a business of her own.”
Nathan shared that he finds these conversations, the ones focused on the client’s dreams and true ambitions, to be the most rewarding. As someone who spent 21 years serving his country in the Army, he also recognized the need and felt a responsibility to support veterans as well as their spouses and families.
“Veterans are among the best citizens our country has to offer and they need YOUR help and support. It is one of the most gratifying things you can do.”
Volunteers like Nathan allow us to empower veterans and military spouses. Nathan, thank you for supporting our clients in their civilian careers.
Hire Heroes Report finds wage gap widened for women veterans, military spouses
2019 data shows male veterans and military spouses made $12,127 more in average starting salary
Veteran nonprofit organization Hire Heroes USA found that women face a different reality when seeking employment after completing military service compared to men. The data was published and released Monday in the third annual Hire Heroes Report, a comprehensive review of employment data for transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses.
We reaffirmed that starting salaries for female veterans and military spouses were lower compared to men. In 2019, male military members earned 17.42% more on average in the civilian workforce compared to women military members. Across all populations groups we surveyed, male Hire Heroes USA clients made 22.73% more on average compared to women, an increase of 1.75% from 2018 data.
“Since our first Hire Heroes Report, we’ve identified pay disparities based on gender and have been working to gain a greater understanding of the causes of those disparities,” said Hire Heroes USA Director of Program Operations and Evaluation Jason Dozier. “Unfortunately, that gap continues to widen, but we feel like we have a better understanding of which factors are creating those challenges, and what we can do as an organization to better prepare our female clients for success in the civilian workforce.”
While the report found that women seek average lower salaries than their male counterparts, women clients also reported being unemployed longer, suggesting that the job search process can be particularly difficult for women veterans. Our data analysis showed the median period of unemployment lasted six weeks longer for women. Average unemployment duration also varied significantly based on race, with Black, Hispanic and Asian clients reporting longer periods of unemployment compared to white respondents.
Hire Heroes USA also discovered several positive trends in our data collection:
• Hire Heroes USA reported 10,607 confirmed hires in 2019, an increase of 2,184 from 2018
• Hire Heroes USA worked with a total of 18,110 transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses, 4,360 more than 2018
• 67.9% of Hire Heroes clients meet or exceed their desired salary
• Average hire salaries increased 3.2% from 2018 levels in 2019, to $59,573
• Hire Heroes USA clients are more racially diverse and gender diverse than the active duty military population
In addition to gathering information about trends relevant for military families, the Hire Heroes Report allows Hire Heroes USA to redefine and improve our programs in an effort to empower more job-seeking service members, veterans and military spouses. None of this would be possible without the generosity of the Walmart Foundation. Their support made this analysis possible, and we are grateful for their dedication to the military and veteran community.
“We are grateful for the important work Hire Heroes is doing to make sure all veterans successfully integrate into the civilian workforce,” said Julie Gehrki, vice president of the Walmart Foundation. “This study provides important insights that will help address the unique challenges women veterans face and better serve them as they seek to build a successful career.”
As we approach Veterans Day, the world of gaming may, at first look, seem an unusual topic to discuss. While service branches are building eSports teams, any number of games take war as their setting, and our service members have a deep love of playing video games, we reserve Veterans Day to honor those who have served our country. At Hire Heroes we know that Veterans Day is, however, a fitting opportunity to discuss the gaming industry, which has been deeply connected to the military for close to two decades.
Set to generate more than $159 billion globally by the end of 2020, the gaming industry not only provides diverse employment opportunities for veterans and transitioning service members, but its leaders have also been at the forefront of veteran employment for over a decade and continue to support the veteran and military community throughout the ever-changing realities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Growing and Diverse Industry
A thriving industry with the need for diverse talent and experiences, gaming offers exciting careers to those with the soft skills and operational experience to keep pace with an ever-changing field. From operations to development, administration to quality assurance and design, the gaming industry relies heavily on diverse skill sets and backgrounds.
Despite the opportunities the gaming industry offers veteran and military job seekers, breaking into the industry hasn’t been an easy task. But thanks to the ingenuity of one veteran job seeker and the commitment of industry leaders from Activision Blizzard and the Call of Duty Endowment, veterans are finding their way into the world of gaming.
Jakob began working with Hire Heroes USA in 2017 as he transitioned out of the Air Force. In its 15th year, Hire Heroes USA empowers service members, veterans and their spouses to succeed in the civilian workforce. Through personalized one-on-one coaching, professionally revised resumes, mentoring, workshops, a job board, career fairs and more, Hire Heroes works with tens of thousands of job-seeking veterans and military spouses annually, to find the success they deserve in the civilian workforce.
With his sights set on working in entertainment, Jakob was connected to Jamie Rimphanli, a Hire Heroes team member in LA. As a student, it was a challenge to work full time, so he submitted applications to various gaming studios, as well as film and television studios, hoping to land an internship to gain experience. He began to network through organizations like Veterans in Media and Entertainment (VME), learning more about industry opportunities. The more he learned, the more he realized his passion was gaming.
But he ran into roadblocks as he tried to get his foot in the door. He leaned on his network, but found it focused mainly on film and television. Recognizing the limits of available resources, Jakob decided it was time to build something new—a network where veterans could turn for mentorship in the gaming industry.
Knowing Hire Heroes USA was committed to expanding opportunities for their veterans, service members, and spouses, Jakob connected with his Transition Specialist. In turn, Jamie reached out to long-time advocates Dan Goldenberg, the Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment, and Ed Palmer, who previously served as D&I Manager at Activision Blizzard. Both industry leaders agreed: there wasn’t a very clear path for veterans into the world of gaming. However, there could be.
The Careers in Video Gaming Project
Supported by Activision Blizzard and Call of Duty Endowment leadership, a grassroots project was launched in September of 2019.
A long-time advocate of the military community, Activision Blizzard has been leading the way for veterans to find success after service for over a decade. Through Activision’s creation of the Call of Duty Endowment in 2009, the highest performing nonprofits in the US and UK have been funded to provide employment support to transitioning service members and veterans. As the largest private funder of veteran employment in the United States the Endowment’s contributions have placed 77,265 veterans into high quality jobs since its founding; in 2019, those newly employed veterans achieved an average salary of $60,733.
The Careers in Video Gaming Project was a logical next step for organizations deeply committed to helping the veteran and military community overcome obstacles to employment. “There’s no question that veterans make great employees and their unique value that includes hands on leadership from a young age, creative problem solving, dedication to mission, integrity and gumption are particularly prized in the gaming industry,” says Dan Goldenberg, the Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment. “The trick is creating clear pathways for their skills and experience to be mapped to the industry’s needs.”
Jakob, who had since become a Hire Heroes USA Volunteer, proved to be a natural partner in this endeavor. A leader and advocate, Jakob worked closely with Jamie to strategize; used LinkedIn to reach out to prospective studios; and grew a list of interested gaming companies that found value alignment with their D&I goals. Jakob helped structure and organize the first live event – all the while balancing his last year of school and a part-time job.
Jakob’s commitment paid off, not only in terms of the development of the Careers in Video Gaming Project but also on the personal front, as stakeholders started recognizing his name. “He’s a natural at connecting with people: he’s willing to leverage every opportunity, with a humble attitude,” Jamie explained. In August, he was thrilled to join the Activision Blizzard team as a Recruiting Coordinator. A few short weeks later, the veterans in gaming network hosted their first event, a webinar discussing “Careers in Video Gaming,” giving veterans and military spouses the guidance he wished he’d had while getting started in the industry.
A Fit for Veterans
As Jakob proves, veterans and service members with the ingenuity and aspiration to go after their goals find great opportunity in the gaming industry, where their skills and abilities are valued and needed. Like Jakob, our job seekers are loyal and committed; they are trained to step in and lead when the situation requires. Teammates who pursue organizational objectives with integrity and diligence, veteran and military job seekers learn and adapt quickly to meet new challenges and develop new skills. Beyond the soft skills these candidates bring to employers, their experience in relevant fields, including, Supply Chain Management, Operations, Cybersecurity, and Administration, makes them ideal candidates in the industry.
The Careers in Video Gaming project will continue to grow in 2021. With Jakob’s new position, he hopes to be able to continue to pave the way for fellow veterans to launch their careers.
Responding to Employment Needs During a Pandemic
While Jakob, Activision Blizzard, the Call of Duty Endowment, and Hire Heroes USA worked to build the Careers in Video Gaming Project, the COVID-19 pandemic reached US shores. The Endowment foresaw the oncoming economic impact and immediately surveyed their employment partners to identify ways to increase support. Hire Heroes USA conducted a survey of clients, concluding that the COVID-19 pandemic hindered the majority of their employment options and that the pandemic would impact job seeking veterans’ employment opportunities and financial stability in the present and, potentially, for years to come.
· 64% of Hire Heroes’ clients have reported offers being withdrawn or postponed, greater lack of communication with employers, being laid off, and hiring freezes.
· 57% of those surveyed had low or very low confidence in their ability to find a job, and thus support their families, in the next two months.
·70% were concerned or very concerned about their employment prospects in the next two months.
These findings are consistent with those of the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative, which concluded: “the impact of reduced employment among military spouses and veterans will have long-term implications for military and veteran families’ financial readiness.” In their Veterans and COVID-19: Projecting the Economic, Social, and Mental Health Needs of America’s Veterans, the Bob Woodruff Foundation has also reported:
·Vast numbers of veterans are likely to become unemployed, at rates that could surpass the highest level of veteran unemployment in the post-9/11 era
·Data from past recent recessions highlight at least two groups of vulnerable veterans, new veterans transitioning from the military (200,000 to 250,000 annually) … [who have] higher levels of unemployment, and older…veterans, who experience an unexpected job loss… [and have] longer durations of unemployment during recessions
·Veterans, especially younger veterans, have limited savings sufficient to support them through spells of unemployment that could last more than six months.
While the consequences of the pandemic could be severe for veterans and their families, the Endowment and Activision Blizzard have stepped up to provide support in this time of need. The Call of Duty Endowment’s increased support of its employment partners, funded through an additional $2 million donation from Activision Blizzard, is helping partners to respond to the two-fold increase in employment aid requests they have received compared to this time last year. This donation will empower veteran service organizations to place almost 3,000 additional veteran job seekers as they react to the impact on the pandemic. For instance, the Call of Duty Endowment’s additional funding will enable Hire Heroes USA to confirm 900 additional hires in the coming months.
Ongoing Support of the Veteran and Military Community
Those of us invested in employment issues know that the pandemic will impact the world of work for years to come. Increased flexibility, remote work options, and adaptability will all play a part in ensuring veterans and their families can overcome barriers to employment. As the COVID-19 Military Support Initiative noted, “Society’s hew toward acceptance of remote work due to the effects of COVID-19, however, is a positive effect for military spouses.” Throughout the pandemic, organizations like Activision Blizzard and Hire Heroes USA have pivoted and adapted their operations to support their staff. For example, Activision Blizzard shifted to a work from home environment for 95% of its employee and updated its remote work policies looking ahead, beyond the pandemic. As more companies in the gaming industry incorporate these types of policies, they may prove to be attractive employers not just for veterans, but for military spouses as well.
Resourcefulness and adaptation will continue to lead the way as we combat veteran and military unemployment in the wake and aftermath of the pandemic. The leadership, support, opportunities and advances in the gaming industry, championed through the vision of Activision Blizzard and the Call of Duty Endowment, will continue to empower veterans, service members, and their families.
About the Call of Duty Endowment
The Call of Duty Endowment is a nonprofit organization co-founded by Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. The Endowment seeks to help veterans find high-quality careers by supporting groups that prepare them for the job market and by raising awareness of the value vets bring to the workplace. For more information about the Call of Duty Endowment, please visit www.callofdutyendowment.org.
Every month, Hire Heroes USA selects several job openings from our job board to highlight. These job openings are posted by partnered employers who are looking to hire veteran and military spouse talent. To view the list of top jobs, our featured employer this month, New Balance, and a few training program partners of Hire Heroes USA, please view the document below.