Joining Forces Blog

  • Hilton Worldwide Announces their Veterans Hiring and Benefits Initiative

    We are excited to announce that Hilton Worldwide has announced plans to hire 10,000 veterans and military-connected family members over the next five years.

    In addition to their individual hiring commitment, Hilton has also generously offered to donate overnight hotel stays to job-seeking veterans and eligible spouses through its Hilton HHonors guest-loyalty program. The donated rooms will be provided to those who are interviewing for a job, engaging in skills or certification training, or other job-seeking activities.

    Donated Hilton HHonors hotel stays will be distributed with help from the National Association of State Work Force Agencies (NASWA), who will allocate the donated nights through its partnership with state CareerOneStop centers nationwide.

    On behalf of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, I applaud Hilton Worldwide’s commitment to hiring our nation’s veterans.  The hotelier’s new program will help achieve our goal of giving service members, veterans and their families the opportunities and support they have earned.  We hope that other companies will follow Hilton Worldwide’s lead.

    Colonel Rich Morales is Executive Director of Joining Forces

  • 8 Keys to Success: Supporting Veterans, Military and Military Families on Campus

    On Saturday, at the Disabled American Veterans National Convention, President Obama outlined five Administration priorities that ensure we are fulfilling our promises to those who have served our nation, including supporting our veterans in institutions of higher learning.  In his speech, President Obama announced that 250 community colleges and universities have committed to implementing the 8 Keys to Success on their campuses. Developed by the Administration, the Department of Education (ED), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in conjunction with more than 100 education experts, the 8 Keys to Success on campus are eight concrete steps that institutions of higher education can take to help veterans and service members transition into the classroom and thrive once they are there. 

    The 8 Keys to Success on campus are:

    1. Create a culture of trust and connectedness across the campus community to promote well-being and success for veterans.

    2. Ensure consistent and sustained support from campus leadership.

    3. Implement an early alert system to ensure all veterans receive academic, career, and financial advice before challenges become overwhelming.

    4. Coordinate and centralize campus efforts for all veterans, together with the creation of a designated space (even if limited in size).

    5. Collaborate with local communities and organizations, including government agencies, to align and coordinate various services for veterans.

    6. Utilize a uniform set of data tools to collect and track information on veterans, including demographics, retention and degree completion.

    7. Provide comprehensive professional development for faculty and staff on issues and challenges unique to veterans.

    8. Develop systems that ensure sustainability of effective practices for veterans.

    With more and more service members returning home in the next year, it has never been more important for schools to have a roadmap in place to make sure veterans are getting the best possible educational experience.  By adopting the 8 Keys to Success, schools are taking a positive step in that direction. 

    8 Keys To Success Sites

    VSOC, VITAL, and 8 Keys to Success Sites (Image from US Department of Education)

    The 250 schools that have committed to the 8 Keys to Success are helping veterans and military families afford and complete their college degrees, certificates, industry-recognized credentials and licenses, and—importantly—preparing them for jobs in high-growth sectors of the economy.  More schools are expected to adopt the 8 Keys to Success on campus in the coming months. 

    The 8 Keys to Success are only part of the Administration’s efforts to support and protect service members in the classroom.  The Keys build on the Administration’s Principles of Excellence, which President Obama established by Executive Order in April 2012.  The Principles of Excellence provide protections for our military and veterans in institutions of higher education to prevent against dishonest recruiting and predatory practices.  To further veterans’ success in higher education, the VA is also expanding its VetSuccess on Campus and Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership programs, which connect veterans to VA resources.   Together, all of these measures will help provide our veterans and military families with the high-quality, affordable education they deserve. 

    We all owe a great debt to those who have served this country.  Giving schools tools they can use to truly welcome and support our returning service members is one way we can help repay that debt by making sure we are providing our veterans and military families with an education worthy of their exceptional talents and experience.

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    Sarah Baker is Policy Advisor to Dr. Jill Biden

  • New York Saw Purple to Celebrate National Purple Heart Appreciation Day

    August 7th was National Purple Heart Appreciation Day, dedicated to those service men and women who put their lives on the line and were awarded the Purple Heart for their bravery and sacrifice in combat. The exact number of service members who have received the Purple Heart is unknown, but estimates place the number around 2 million with over 55,000 of those coming from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yesterday evening, to honor America’s Purple Heart recipients, New York City residents and visitors alike witnessed the top of the Empire State building illuminated purple.


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  • Orion International Brings Hiring Event to Sailors at Naval Station Mayport

    Recently, Orion International gathered Honeywell, Siemens, The Hershey Company, and WWE on Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, FL to deliver an on-station hiring event. Serving the sailors of the USS Gettysburg, USS Vicksburg, USS Philippine Sea, and Naval Station Mayport, the event focused on interviewing service members and their spouses for positions in IT, operations, sales, and leadership.

    The companies visited the base at an opportune time for the crew of the USS Gettysburg, which embarked on a nine-month deployment only days after the hiring event concluded. As David Coe, the Vice President of Strategic Programs at Orion International said, “For many of these Sailors, the opportunity to interview for a post-military career would not have been possible for many months without this event, which has brought the opportunity directly to the base. We are so thankful for the support of the Command of Naval Station Mayport and great participation from our client partners seeking to add military talent to their company ranks.”

    The representatives from each company were given a tour of the USS Gettysburg upon their arrival, but the real excitement for these expert recruiting teams was in the talent of the service members they came to interview. Anna Serafin, Senior HR Business Partner with The Hershey Company described her team as “[T]hrilled to be a part of this event,” adding that “…career transition support to service members and their spouses at a major military installation like Mayport is something that not only helps them and their families – it also helps us and our business.”

    Like The Hershey Company, Siemens also recognizes the tremendous talent available to them in former service members. Eric Spiegel, President and CEO of Siemens USA states: “The U.S. military is arguably one of the most high-tech organizations in the world and the extensive technical training and experience these men and women gain through their service make them uniquely qualified for many positions in Siemens.”

    Each of the organizations attending the event continue to hire veterans and their spouses because of the quality of the candidates they find when visiting installations like Mayport. Their experiences support the message of the Administration: that hiring a veteran is not only good for the veteran, but it is also smart business decision.

    Colonel Morales is the Executive Director of Joining Forces

  • Honoring America’s Heroes at America’s Pastime

    Last night, at the 84th Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Game, the First Lady and Dr. Biden introduced a special group of America’s heroes. MLB and PEOPLE Magazine, through their “Tribute for Heroes” campaign, assembled a list of 90 incredible veterans that were then voted on by the American public. The list was refined to 30 whose stories were chosen to garner the national spotlight. Represented in the 30 are men and women from the four branches of service; they include wounded warriors, Paralympic record-holders, and Navajo code talkers, with compelling narratives of service from WWII to Afghanistan.

    The All-Star weekend provided VIP treatment to each of the honorees: guided tours of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, admission to both the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby, and a reception aboard the USS Intrepid. In the video airing at the All-Star game, the First Lady and Dr. Biden encouraged fans to find ways to give back to those who have given so much. As Dr. Biden stated, “It’s our turn to step up and serve them as well as they have served our country.”

    Colonel Rich Morales is Executive Director of Joining Forces

  • Veterans and Military Family Mental Health Conference

    Yesterday, at the White House, we hosted the first-ever Veterans and Military Family Mental Health Conference, bringing together Administration leaders, Veteran Service Organizations, military service organizations, nonprofit and nongovernment organizations along with mental health professionals, and leaders from the Departments of Defense and Veteran Affairs. This event served as a precursor to the 152 Department of Veterans Affairs’ Mental Health Summits convening across the country in an effort to continue this conversation at a local level. 

    The Administration is committed to raising awareness and improving care for Veterans and military family members in need. Last summer, President Obama signed an Executive Order focused on military and veteran mental health, calling upon the government to increase awareness, build treatment capacity, invest in research, and significantly increase access to mental health care.

    In 2012, more than 1.3 million Veterans received specialized mental health care from the VA. Based on this growing need, the VA is continuing to hire more mental health professionals and expand the use of innovative technology to serve Veterans in both urban and in rural or underserved areas.  For instance, the Department of Defense’s Military Family Life Consultant program provides over 6 million counseling sessions per year to service members and their families throughout the deployment cycle.  As a former battalion commander, I know first-hand the value that this special group of providers brings to our military.  Similarly, the Veterans Crisis Line, highlighted at yesterday’s event, continues to be a life-saving resource for our nation’s veterans.