By Gloria Romano-Barrera.

Recognizing the tremendous sacrifice military members, veterans and their families make for the nation has been at the core of the mission for much of corporate America. To assist Veterans as they transition to civilian life or seek to balance their careers with continued service in the Armed Forces, these corporations share ways they provide support.

“Veterans are an asset to our country, to our communities and to corporations like Lockheed Martin,” states Cheryl Kern, Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion, Lockheed Martin. “At Lockheed Martin, we’re proud of the fact that one in five of our employees has served in the military – we embrace the unique skills and experiences they bring to our workforce.”

Every year, the dedicated military relations team at Lockheed Martin reaches more than 20,000 transitioning service members and veterans through “Military Connect,” the Lockheed Martin online talent community, and through the participation in 170 military- and veteran-focused hiring events each year.

Lockheed Martin also supports veteran-owned companies; in 2017, the company did more than $550 million in business with more than 850 veteran-owned small businesses.

Lockheed Martin is proud of their efforts toward Veterans but two particular successful partnerships are the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University.

Lockheed Martin funds Hiring Our Heroes transition summits and traditional hiring fairs to help connect transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses to meaningful employment. Additionally, the company supports the Chamber Foundation’s Corporate Fellowship Program, which places service members in 12-week fellowships with participating companies before they transition. At Lockheed Martin, more than 26 Fellows have been placed into permanent roles in high-demand skill areas.

Lockheed Martin is a founding partner of the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business, and funds the Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship through Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families. These programs help veterans and their families establish, grow and thrive as small business owners. Lockheed Martin’s dedicated supplier diversity team is very engaged in the partnership, participating in training and boot camps to help position veteran business owners for success in large corporate supply chains, like Lockheed Martin’s.

Lockheed Martin hosts a Military Skills Translator tool that helps service members decode their MOS for the civil job market. In addition, the Military Transition Managers helps ease the transition for veterans joining the workforce.

Lockheed Martin is designated as a Silver Military Friendly® Employer on the 2018 GI Jobs “Military Friendly® Status.” They have also been named a Top Military Friendly® Employer for the last 11 years.

“Veterans are focused on the delivery of response and delivering of a goal,” shares Ray Kerins, Senior Vice President and Head of Communications, Government Relations & Policy for Bayer.

“They are people who are trained by the U.S. government to achieve a goal. They are loyal, dedicated and their mind and body are trained to succeed. When we have the opportunity to hire a veteran, we are looking at them.”

Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the Life Science fields of health care and agriculture. Its products and services are designed to benefit people and improve their quality of life. At the same time, the group aims to create value through innovation, growth and high earning power.

Today Bayer attracts Veterans through one of its strongest employee resource group, BRAVE (Bayer Resource for Armed forces Veterans/family and friends of Employees), a group that supports military veteran issues, military culture and military working values. Through BRAVE’s efforts, Bayer has been able to partner with unique organizations like Hirepurpose to attract talented veterans and VETTED.

“Brave is helping drive the company into a better understanding of how not just recruit and retain veterans, but how to be a better company,” shares Kerins. “Bayer is a company that is working hard on many fronts to support our veterans not just internally with our programs, but also by giving them an opportunity to branch out and work with the community.”

One of the programs Bayer supports is VETTED. VETTED started by a group of navy seals and is an initiative that helps veterans gain the confidence they need to thrive in the business world.

The Vetted Foundation has partnered with top university business programs around that country that work to set transitioning Military members on a direct path for success in the private sector.

Additional programs include K9 for warriors: an organization dedicated to providing service canines to Warriors suffering from Post-traumatic Stress Disability, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma as a result of military service post-9/11.

“The value of what we are doing as a company has to do with our reputation bottom line,” shares Kerins. “Veterans and Veteran issues is a national issue. I believe this is a reputation bottom line, it’s not just about a financial bottom line. We want to support our veterans, and we want to show it through our actions.”

“Just as our veterans have served our country, IBM thinks it’s important to serve our veterans when they come home and help prepare them for new careers,” states Kelli Jordan, Talent Leader for New Collar Initiatives at IBM. “The men and women who have served in our country’s armed forces have unique talents and skill sets that make them a natural fit for some of the technology industry’s most exciting fields, like blockchain, cloud, and cybersecurity. Veterans bring a disciplined work ethic as well as strong collaboration and communications skills acquired through their military service, all capabilities that IBM values highly.”

IBM offers several initiatives and programs designed to build in-demand technology skills that are needed to prepare veterans and others for “new collar” careers – a term coined by IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty. New collar positions require skills, but not necessarily a traditional four-year degree. They can also command highly-competitive salaries.

“As part of our new collar job creation, IBM is honored to be named the Military Friendly Employer of the Year for 2018 and we are in the process of hiring 2,000 veterans by 2020 and we’re already 60 percent of the way there,” states Jordan.

Opportunities for Veterans at IBM include: Military Fellowship program in Austin and now expanding to Atlanta, in partnership with Fort Hood. The 12-week long Fellowship program allows transitioning military members a chance to gain insight and build skills in the careers that they desire to pursue once they leave the military.

IBM also provides a cloud-based job seeker platform that recruiters use to match open jobs with veteran skills. Through a partnership with Corporate America Supports You (CASY), 35,000 veterans have been placed into jobs through use of these tools over the last six years.

IBM’s Veterans Employment Initiative provides software training, certification and job placement assistance to veterans pursuing careers as data analysts and other technical professions.

“IBM is dedicated and focused on new collar jobs and creating opportunities for people from all backgrounds because we want to shift mindsets, make the tech industry more diverse and inclusive, and make a lasting difference in communities across the country,” shares Jordan.

“BNSF is able to link high-performing and highly capable veterans with meaningful and challenging careers,” shares Kim Cummings, BNSF Assistant Vice President Human Resources & Diversity. “We currently employ more than 7,300 military veterans (approximately 18 percent of our workforce). In 2017, approximately 8 percent of all newly hired employees were men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. This year alone, we have already hired more than 1,000 military veterans. We also support reservists, enabling those men and women to take time off for training and deployment.”

Identified as a top employer for U.S. military veterans and earning the Department of Defense Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Freedom Award, and the Seven Seals Award, BNSF Railway, one of the largest railroads in North America, believes veterans- with their teamwork and safety-first mentality – fit seamlessly into BNSF positions and culture. “Much of the experience and training that individuals receive while working in the military are transferrable for positions in the railroad industry,” shares Cummings. “The same principles that are valued in the military, including safety-mindedness, efficient performance under diverse work conditions, respect for policy and procedures, mission focus, teamwork and dedication are integral to the BNSF culture.”

As part of BNSF’s ongoing commitment to Diversity & Inclusion, the company recently established a business resource group for veterans, reservists and first responders called ‘BRAVE’ to support all veterans working at BNSF across the network. The group is made up of veterans, employees, family members and patriots. The team works to engage communities, build leadership skills of the group members, and provide ongoing career development support while helping protect and grow the company’s success.

Also recognized as a “Top Military Friendly Employer” by G.I. Jobs magazine and “Best of the Best” by U.S. Veterans, BNSF has a webpage dedicated to helping transitioning military veterans find their career at BNSF.

With a long history of providing career opportunities to veterans as well as active military members, Amtrak, the national rail operator connecting America in safer, greener and healthier ways, values the leadership, reliability and dedication that the armed forces bring to the company.

“Approximately one in five Amtrak employees self-identify as veterans or active members of the U.S. Armed Forces, National Guard and Reserves,” shares Kimberly Woods, Amtrak spokeswoman. “Amtrak remains focused on hiring veterans because of the valuable experiences and leadership skills this segment brings to our national network. Amtrak has been focused on this effort since 2013 to not only support veterans and active members, but to apply their unique skillsets to support the mission of America’s Railroad®.”

A wide range of incentives include: support the professional and personal lives of Amtrak employees; Vacation and holiday time off; 401K and retirement plans and education assistance are among the many available benefits. Another benefit is the Amtrak4Veterans employee affinity group, which supports current and former military members through fellowship, mentoring and community outreach.

“About 20,000 employees provide customers a hassle-free experience on trains with wide seats, outlets and plenty of room to move around,” she states. “Employees ensure customers travel in comfort and reach their destinations safely and reliably. Employees drive the performance needed to make us the country’s first intercity travel choice. We’re continuously improving by leveraging the expertise of the best people in the industry: our employees.”

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