U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Launches Wounded Veteran & Caregiver Employment Advisory Council

March 4, 2015

Private Sector Initiative to Address Wounded Veteran and Military Caregiver Unemployment is Chaired by Marine Veteran and Purple Heart Recipient

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In partnership with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and Paralyzed Veterans of America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) program today announced the creation of the Wounded Veteran and Caregiver Employment Advisory Council (WVCEAC), a private sector initiative formed to address the unique challenges faced by the nation’s wounded veteran and military caregiver population. The council was formally introduced at a flexible work conference held today at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, D.C. Founding members include BP America, Capital One, La Quinta Inns & Suites, Logistics Health Incorporated (LHI), PeopleScout, Starbucks, and USAA.

“With the formation of this council, these private sector leaders are stepping up to the plate with not just words but actions that will make a difference for our nation’s wounded veterans and military caregivers,” said Eric Eversole, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and executive director of Hiring Our Heroes. “With the help of a dedicated group of companies with proven track records and strong programs of their own, Hiring Our Heroes will strengthen and develop customized programs to meet the unique employment needs of these talented men and women.”

The Chamber Foundation’s Wounded Veteran and Caregiver program is one of the employment initiatives Senator Elizabeth Dole announced, alongside First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, at the April 2014 launch of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation’s National Coalition for Military Caregivers. Senator Dole’s remarks are available here. Including veterans from every era, there are more than 2 million wounded veterans and service members living in the United States, many of them cared for by an estimated 5.5 million military caregivers.

“When I first presented the challenges facing America’s military and veteran caregivers to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, they immediately committed themselves to lead our nation’s employers in responding to the gaps in caregiver employment and workplace support,” said Senator Elizabeth Dole. “Hiring Our Heroes has made such a wonderful difference in the lives of our veterans, so I am grateful and heartened to have them as one of the first members of our National Coalition for Military and Veteran Caregivers. I know this partnership will provide much needed opportunities for our nation’s hidden heroes.”

As one of the first private sector-led councils formed specifically to address wounded veteran and military caregiver unemployment, the WVCEAC will concentrate on finding flexible work schedules or remote-work opportunities that will support a full reintegration into society. The WVCEAC’s support and partnership will enable HOH to host wounded veteran conferences, national caregiver summits and receptions, wounded veteran internship programs, and online career tools specific to these populations.

“As a recovering warrior and someone who has been very involved in this issue since I was injured nine years ago, I can attest to how securing a fulfilling job is a meaningful and necessary step towards a successful recovery and reintegration,” said Lt. Col. Justin Constantine (USMC, Ret.). “The Wounded Veteran and Caregiver Employment Advisory Council is leading the way on the issue by building out a high-touch, detail-oriented approach. We have already seen the success of this model at events in Boston, San Diego, and Los Angeles.”

In addition to the nearly 50,000 service members who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan to recover from physical wounds, it is estimated that as many as 400,000 service members live with the invisible wounds of war. These injures include combat-related stress, major depression, and post-traumatic stress. Still another 320,000 are believed to have experienced a traumatic brain injury while on deployment.

Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses find meaningful employment. Working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s vast network of state and local chambers and other strategic partners from the public, private and nonprofit sectors, Hiring Our Heroes has helped hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment through more than 850 job fairs in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Germany; a suite of free online career-based resources; and the Hiring 500,000 Heroes campaign.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation is dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness and educating the public on how the free enterprise system improves society and the economy.