Since the Obama administration appealed to private companies to hire veterans, more than 70,000 vets and military spouses have found jobs, making President Barack Obama's goal for industry to hire 100,000 by the end of 2013 likely to be achieved.
The 1,600 employers supporting Joining Forces, the White House's initiative to rally job support for veterans, have committed to hire another 170,000 veterans and military spouses over the next two years in addition to those already hired, said Brad Cooper, executive director of Joining Forces. Those numbers have exceeded expectations, he said.
More than one million active-duty personnel are expected to transition out of the military over the next five years, according to the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit group Veterans for Common Sense. "A million more service men and women coming home really puts an emphasis on the need to help our veterans find work," said Patrick Bellon, the group's executive director and a veteran of the war in Iraq.
Unemployment among veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq has tended to run higher than the national average. Unemployment among these military veterans was 12.7% in May, above the national average of 8.2%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Veterans are in every community in America," said Cooper of Joining Forces. "It takes efforts at both the local level through small businesses as well as through large companies with a national reach to make a difference."
Among the largest companies hiring veterans are Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, Sears Holdings, General Electric Co., The Walt Disney Company and Comcast Corp.
Citigroup, based in New York, has hired 344 veterans as of May 31, and is on track to hire more than 1,000 veterans in 2012, said David Roskin, a company spokesman. Those jobs are across the bank's North America business lines, including its consumer and operations and technology units as well as its institutional investment banking and sales and trading units, he said. Citigroup hired 686 veterans for its North America business in 2011.
J.P. Morgan Chase, based in New York, has hired more than 1,000 veterans this year, said Tom Higgins, the bank's head of operational control and military and veterans affairs. Vets have filled positions in technology and operations, branch banking and customer service, investment banking, management and sales. "Our commitment is to not only hire veterans, but also provide them with the skills and support to turn that job into a meaningful career," said Higgins. J.P. Morgan Chase hired about 3,000 veterans in 2011.
Sears Holdings, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., has hired 1,994 veterans and military spouses this year and is on track to exceed its goal to increase its military hiring by 10%, said Christina Dibble, the company's head of military recruiting. Sears Holdings hired more than 1,800 veterans and military spouses in 2011 and employs more than 30,000 veterans, military personnel and military spouses across all levels of the organization.
GE, based in Fairfield, Conn., has hired about 500 veterans this year and plans to hire 1,000 veterans each year over the next five years, said Mike Tresca, a GE spokesman. Those jobs are in all areas of GE's businesses, including capital finance, medical equipment production, transportation and infrastructure, which ranges from manufacturing and selling power turbines to aircraft engines, he said.
Walt Disney, based in Burbank, Calif., has hired about 350 veterans, guardsmen and reservists since March and is on track to hire 1,000 veterans over the next three years, said Michelle Bergman, a Disney spokeswoman. Those jobs are in all of Disney's business units, including its theme parks and resorts, consumer product lines and media properties ESPN, ABC and Walt Disney Studios, she said.
Comcast, which is based in Philadelphia and includes NBCUniversal in New York, has hired about 300 veterans this year and is on track to hire 1,000 veterans over the next three years, said John Demming, a Comcast spokesman. Those jobs are in a variety of positions and at all levels, he said, including network engineering, programming, operations, customer service, marketing and human resources.
The second annual Veterans On Wall Street job fair, founded by Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse in 2010, is being held today at 60 Wall Street in New York.
About 100 companies are expected to attend, including Morgan Stanley, Prudential, MetLife, AT&T and Coca-Cola, among others. "Many of the employers, regardless of industry, are looking to fill positions in project management, operations, technology, logistics, and customer support," said Roskin of Citigroup. Last year, more than 1,500 veterans attended the job fair and 411 job offers were made, resulting in 154 confirmed hires, he said.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is hosting a three-day job fair for veterans at Detroit's Cobo Center from June 26-28. More than 200 federal and private employers will be there seeking applicants for 22,000 positions throughout the U.S., with 27% of them at federal agencies and 73% at private companies, said Jo Schuda, a Veterans Affairs spokeswoman.
The Department of Homeland Security will be seeking applicants to hire 800 veterans this year. Falls Church, Va.-based military contractor DynCorp International, Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp and Norwalk, Conn.-based Xerox Corporation will also be seeking applicants. Each of those companies is looking to hire over 1,000 veterans this year, said Schuda. Veterans Affairs employees will attend the event to help veterans prepare their resumes and military documentation and discuss interview techniques, she said.
Chicago-based virtual recruitment center Milicruit is hosting an online job fair on June 26 with 24,000 jobs available for veterans at companies such as Pfizer, General Motors, and many of the employers involved with Joining Forces. The goal of the online event is to get 10,000 veterans hired. Milicrut has helped get 4,800 veterans hired in the last three months, said Kevin O'Brien, vice president of business development at United Business Media, which owns Milicruit.
Write to Damian Ghigliotty at Damian.Ghigliotty@dowjones.com