Each year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative recognizes the tremendous contributions of those who have gone above and beyond to help our nation’s heroes by honoring companies, organizations, and individuals at its annual awards gala.
The 9th annual Lee Anderson Hiring Our Heroes Awards Gala, presented by Toyota, returned to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hall of Flags on November 13, 2019. The evening featured the presentation of seven awards, the celebration of the accomplishments made during the past year, and honoring those who have served and still serve.
Besides celebrating the award recipients, the event highlights included a catered dinner and dessert reception prepared by Chef Robert Irvine, a Royal Navy veteran and founder of the Robert Irvine Foundation, which supports service members and first responders.
U.S. Army General Paul Nakasone, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and director of National Security Agency/Chief, Central Security Service, along with Ed Laukes, group vice president of Toyota Division Marketing at Toyota Motor North America, gave special remarks at this year’s gala.
“Toyota has a longstanding dedication and commitment to training and hiring veterans. In fact, 5% of our total workforce are veterans,” Laukes said. “We are proud to be part of this team assembled in this room that has helped more than 31,000 veterans and military spouses obtain good jobs and employment opportunities through Hiring Our Heroes.”
Navy Lt. (Ret.) Brad Snyder served as the gala’s emcee. Snyder is a five-time Paralympic gold medalist with Team USA and a Hiring Our Heroes and Toyota Personal Branding Ambassador.
The Hiring Our Heroes awards are presented in seven categories: Overall Effort in Veteran and Military Spouse Employment; Nonprofit Leadership in Supporting Veteran and Military Spouse Employment; Post-9/11 Veteran Employment; Wounded Veteran and Military Caregiver Employment; Military Spouse Employment and Mentoring; Individual Excellence in Veteran Employment; and the President's Award for Lifetime Achievement.
The 2019 President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement was presented to Bonnie Amos, former first lady of the U.S. Marine Corps and Hiring Our Heroes and Toyota Personal Branding Ambassador.
“Bonnie is a national treasure who has helped our program in immeasurable ways. I can’t think of a more deserving recipient of the award,” said Eric Eversole, president of Hiring Our Heroes and vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
From October 2010 until September 2014, Bonnie Amos served alongside General James Amos while he was the Marine Corps Commandant. Always a staunch advocate for military families, it was during this time Bonnie Amos had the opportunity to influence policies and programs within the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense.
She continues to be actively involved in the military community as an advisor to Veterans Bridge Home, advisor to Thanks USA, and a member of the Semper Fi Fund’s Board of Directors. As a Personal Branding Ambassador, Bonnie Amos works to increase awareness in employment opportunities to both veterans and their spouses.
2019 Hiring Our Heroes Award Recipients
Lee Anderson Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Award
Presented to Prudential Financial for overall excellence in hiring and retaining veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses in the private sector. Other finalists included Accenture, DaVita, and Walmart.“We are honored to receive the prestigious Lee Anderson Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Award,” said Charles Sevola, vice president and head of Prudential’s Veterans Initiative Office. “Our goal is to create innovative and sustainable employment programs that provide military talent with meaningful careers, not only with Prudential but we also want to share our programs with other employers who have similar goals.”
Military Community Nonprofit Leadership Award
Presented to PsychArmor Institute for demonstrated commitment to supporting veteran and military spouse employment and economic opportunity.
“PsychArmor is honored to receive this award alongside our many partners and experts who collectively share in building PsychArmor education,” said Tina Atherall, Chief Executive Officer at PsychArmor Institute. “Thank you to Hiring Our Heroes for recognizing PsychArmor with this award and NBCUniversal for supporting the employer portfolio.”
The Military Community Nonprofit Leadership Award is a new award category. Other finalists included PenFed Foundation, NextOp, and Operation Gratitude.
Steve Robinson Post-9/11 Veteran Employment Award
Presented to LinkedIn for effective and sustained efforts to enhance the ability of post-9/11 veterans and transitioning service members to find meaningful employment. Other finalists included Cushman & Wakefield, Salesforce, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
“It was truly an amazing evening at the 9th annual gala with Hiring Our Heroes as LinkedIn was recognized with the Steve Robinson Post-9/11 award for our efforts in striving to create economic opportunity for transitioning service members. We are deeply humbled and grateful,” said Sarah Roberts, Head of Military and Veterans Programs at LinkedIn. “More importantly, we are excited for what is ahead as we continue to collaborate and shine light on this incredible talent pool. So many leaders have contributed to this work playing an instrumental role in LinkedIn reaching this point together, as a community. The best work is still ahead.”
Wounded Veteran and Military Caregiver Employment Award
Presented to the Wounded Warrior Project for demonstrated leadership in addressing the unique challenges and demands for wounded, ill, and injured veterans as well as military caregivers in their search for meaningful employment. Other finalists included AARP, Amazon, and Hilton.
“We’re honored to receive this award and are proud to partner with Hiring Our Heroes to connect our nation’s wounded veterans and family members with meaningful employment opportunities,” said Tom Kastner, Wounded Warrior Project financial wellness vice president. “Since its inception, the career counseling program at Wounded Warrior Project has placed over 15,000 wounded veterans and family support members in careers, with combined first-year salaries totaling more than $500 million. We’re committed to helping wounded veterans start their next mission, and look forward to continued partnerships with Hiring Our Heroes and veteran service organizations to accomplish that goal.”
Military Spouse Employment and Mentoring Award
Presented to the VA Board of Veterans’ Appeals for demonstrated hiring, mentorship, and support of military spouses in their search for meaningful employment. Other finalists included B.E.A.T. LLC, Lockheed Martin, and Walmart.
Colonel Michael Endres Leadership Award for Individual Excellence in Veteran Employment
Presented to Danny Chung, Chief of Staff and Business Manager for Military Affairs at Microsoft, for an individual who has gone above and beyond to make a difference in employment opportunities for veterans, transitioning service members, and spouses.
“Being awarded the 2019 Colonel Michael Endres Leadership Award for Individual Excellence in Veteran Employment is humbling to say the least. I hope that my work at Microsoft has helped empower our veteran and military communities to achieve more and is in keeping with Colonel Enders’ spirit of leadership,” Chung said. “The veteran and military spouse workforce is one of the most talented in America and brings incredible value to any business willing to hire them. And I am tremendously proud to partner with Hiring Our Heroes in this endeavor.”
Other finalists included Jim Beamesderfer, Prudential Financial; Al Hanley III, Troops Into Transportation; and Melissa Stirling, Hilton.
Hiring Our Heroes is honored to partner with individuals and organizations who possess such strong initiative and dedication to the veteran and military spouse employment space.
The finalists and recipients for the awards were competitively judged by the Hiring Our Heroes Awards Committee, which based the judging on criteria such as innovative recruiting and retention strategies, military community engagement and leadership, and ongoing commitments to hire veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses.