Whether it’s election coverage, foreign policy or the skyrocketing murder rate in Chicago and other cities, let’s face it… the news lately has been a huge, steaming pile of you-know-what for a while now. Frankly it can get depressing reading about it all day, every day. So how about some actual positive stories in the final week before the voting takes place? Here’s one tale which should miraculously cross party lines and put a smile on everyone’s face. Hilton, the owners of more hotel and vacation properties than you can shake a stick at, undertook an effort to make a positive, real world impact on the lives of American veterans and their families over the past few years and they have come through on their promise ahead of schedule. The company has now hired 10,000 of our nation’s heroes and their dependents and is on track to make such families a full 10% of all their new hires going forward.
Hilton today announced that its corporate offices, owned and managed hotels, and franchisees have hired 10,000 veterans, spouses and dependents in the United States since 2013. It has reached this milestone two years ahead of schedule as part of its Operation: Opportunity program, which provides wide-ranging support to U.S. military veterans and their families. Hilton has also donated millions of Hilton HHonors Points that veterans can redeem for free hotel stays while seeking jobs, trainings or certifications with Hilton or in any other industry.
Hilton partnered with Hiring Our Heroes, a program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, the White House’s Joining Forces initiative and the National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) to launch Operation: Opportunity in August 2013. At that time, approximately 10 percent of post-9/11 veterans were unemployed and active duty military were transitioning to civilian life at a rate of more than 250,000 per year.
This may just be a prime example of the difference between the government and the private sector. Politicians love to find veterans to prop up at campaign rallies to demonstrate how much they “support the troops” and they talk a good game when looking for votes. But once they’re in office we wind up with things like the VA medical facilities scandal and California taking back the reenlistment bonuses of National Guardsmen (at least until people found out about it and complained). The unemployment rate for veterans and their dependents remains unacceptably high and the resources needed to help them transition back into civilian life are too complicated and difficult to deploy.
Meanwhile, out in the world of private enterprise, we find a company like Hilton that can actually provide what’s always been known as the best social support tool in history… a job. The ability to land steady, well paying employment in the private sector after returning from war is the first and best remedy to help our veterans start on a path toward “normality” after living in the decidedly abnormal atmosphere of of a deployed combat unit or support team. It doesn’t just put food on the table. Landing a position like that introduces the veteran to an entire new circle of colleagues and potential friends, expanding their social circle and prospects for the future.
Hats off to Hilton for quietly doing something they were under no obligation to do and making a real difference.