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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will roll out new employment tools for veterans as part of the Hiring Our Heroes initiative over the next several months. In addition to an online personal branding tool kit, expected to launch in February, the chamber, in partnership with Google, is also developing an enhanced online mapping tool, "Fast Track," to help service members and veterans identify the 100 fastest-growing job markets in the U.S. and the key industries driving growth in local communities.
By the end of November, the map will be populated with veteran-friendly career opportunities in Fortune 500 companies.
Retired Marine Lt. Col. Kevin Schmiegel, executive director of Hiring our Heroes and vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber also plans to populate the map with information on how to use the GI Bill at community colleges, vocational schools, apprenticeships and credentialing programs to earn specific qualifications and help veterans find job opportunities in manufacturing and other industries.
Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer, a partner in the initiative, said "Fast Track" will help veterans identify credible employers and training programs.
"The online map tool is going to be a huge hit because it's going to be a one-stop shop for veterans. It's definitely frustrating trying to determine all the different areas you can go to. You don't know which ones are credible and which ones aren't," Meyer said Nov. 15 during a Washington conference that brought in employers from the public and private sectors to discuss their veteran hiring goals.
The Chamber of Commerce hopes to find employment for half a million veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014. To date, more than 800 businesses have pledged to hire 182,000 veterans through the campaign. Since March, more than 14,000 veterans have found employment through Hiring Our Heroes job fairs. The chamber also plans to incorporate more transition workshops into those job fairs.
Meyer, who encouraged employers to think of four years in the military as being as valuable as four years at a university, said businesses need to continue to provide viable employment opportunities that allow veterans to use the skills they learned in theater.
"Companies need to stop looking at it as charity," he said. "It's not charity. It's just doing what's right."