NEW YORK (November 11, 2015) — A coalition of 200 companies, including J.P. Morgan Chase, Pepsi and Southwest Airlines, is celebrating Veterans Day with a commitment to hire one million of them.
The group, which J.P. Morgan helped form four years ago, originally targeted 100,000 servicemen and women.
The program, now called the Veteran Jobs Mission, has since put 300,000 veterans to work.
“Veterans are among the great citizens of America and as you know, since 9/11 they’ve been bearing a tremendous burden for the rest of us,” said Jamie Dimon, CEO of J.P. Morgan. “We want to do our share to bring them back into society and give them jobs.”
In 2011, the project’s 11 founding companies stepped in to address a big problem: High rates of unemployment among veterans. The first wave of them were returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and entering one of the worst job markets in history.
The companies’ efforts contributed to a “sharp decline in the unemployment rate for post-9/11 veterans, from just over 12% in 2011 to 5% as of September 2015,” the Veterans Jobs Mission said in a statement.
But there is still plenty of work to do. Joblessness for the youngest veterans, age 20 to 24, remains high at 14.9%. Hispanic and African-American veterans also continue to experience higher than average unemployment rates.
“The military does a great job of training their people. That’s the purpose — to defend the country,” said Jay E. Siembieda, a former Naval aviator who now works as a private banker for J.P. Morgan. “But it’s difficult to really know what your options are when you leave the military.”
The program is also trying to ensure that former servicemen and women hold onto their jobs once they get them.
A recent study by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University showed that nearly half of those surveyed left their first jobs within the first year.
The Veteran Jobs Mission announced efforts to address retention through a partnership with New American Security, which will conduct additional research on performance, career development and retention.
“We track them every step of the way,” said Dimon. “We’re trying to pay a lot of attention, of course we want retention.”