For too many military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, finding a civilian job has been difficult. GE, as a company, is trying to change that, participating this year in over 100 career fairs hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Student Veterans of America and focused solely on getting veterans back to work. Those newly recruited servicemen and women will join over 10,000 U.S. military veterans currently employed by GE (about one in every 14 GE employees in the U.S. is a vet). “We’re expecting an influx of troops coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, and they need jobs,” said Kris Urbauer, program manager for GE’s veterans’ initiatives.
To help achieve GE CEO and Chairman Jeff Immelt’s stated goal of making GE the “employer of choice for veterans,” Urbauer and others have intensified ongoing recruiting efforts. In addition to GE’s presence at the career fairs, and at major gatherings of vets, like the Marine Corps Marathon in October, the company has established and supported major programs aimed at helping vets bridge the military and civilian worlds:
- The Junior Officer Leadership Program provides junior officers a unique opportunity to work in three eight-month rotations with different GE businesses, with classroom instruction supplementing on the job training.
- In 2009, GE signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Reserve to guarantee priority consideration for job interviews for qualified participating soldiers no later than 30 days after completing military occupational specialty training.
- And GE is a founding member of American Corporate Partners, which offers mentoring and networking opportunities for transitioning veterans.
GE’s support doesn’t end once veterans are hired. In 2010, the company launched the GE Veterans Network as an affinity group to support those employees who’ve spent time protecting the country. The Veterans Network had its first national summit in May and, according to Urbauer, provides GE-employed veterans “with career development, advice and activities that can help propel them professionally.”
Urbauer, who spent 10 years in the army as an engineer officer, said the network is critical to making veterans comfortable within a big company. “We understand each other a little better,” she said. Urbauer added that GE’s support is nothing new: when she was called back into active duty after 9/11, she took a leave of absence for a year to work with the Army Corps of engineers at Ground Zero. “I knew I would have a job when I got back,” Urbauer said.
For more on GE’s multiple veterans’ initiatives, please click here.