The Face of Today’s Veterans
Last year, 21.2 million men and women in the civilian, non-institutional population ages 18 and over were veterans, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s 2013 “Employment Situation of Veterans Summary.” The report further states that, of these veterans, the unemployment rate was 9.9 percent in 2012.
Today’s veterans are facing an uncertain job market as they transition from their rigid military life to a self-serving civilian life. The hurdles they encounter are not ordinary job-seeker issues either. Some claim that sitting down for an interview is more frightening for them than getting shot at during combat. Many stumble with simply building a resume while others struggle with starting a new job without a manual to explain in great detail what tasks they are to perform.
The entire game plan changes when a soldier leaves the military. Employers neither ask how fast you can run with a 100-pound backpack nor do they care. Yet for a former soldier, this important, personal skill decided a mission’s outcome – life or death – in some cases.
About Face, Forward March
How can businesses help these soldiers change their expectations of themselves? How can our nation assist them in an about-face movement where they are no longer required to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and now must begin to support their own freedom and family? The franchise system offers the chance for veterans to come away from combat using the very skills they learned while fighting.
Many veterans possess skills that are easily transferable to the franchise model. They learned leadership skills while executing missions that required specific orders and quick thinking. Their problem-solving skills and ability to follow through on a task would benefit any franchise. While they respect rank, they are also excellent team players. Once taught a specific system, former soldiers follow through to lead the franchise to success. Veterans who climbed the ranks in the military appreciate being their own boss through a franchise system. The idea of franchisors joining forces with veterans has become an alliance that benefits both parties.
It’s About Duty
There is a movement under way by large, successful companies joining forces and stepping up to do their part in assisting our nation’s veterans to reduce their unemployment rate. Some have claimed it’s just a fad or a politically correct stance companies take, similar to “going green.” However, the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program and businesses that are heavily involved, such as 7-Eleven, Papa John’s Pizza, and Liberty Tax Service, are proving that is not the case. Veterans are finding jobs thanks to the Operation Enduring Opportunity initiative and 610 participating companies that are offering business ownership. VetFran has stepped in to bridge the gap between franchise companies looking to hire and veterans looking for work.
VetFran has joined with government organizations, such as the White House Joining Forces Initiative, to expand the association’s efforts. It has taken the lead on the legislative forefront to propose bills that supply tax credits for veterans who purchase franchise businesses and tax relief to those who hired them.
IFA hosts conventions, summits, and committees around the country to promote the awareness and impact of VetFran. The organization’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Since the onset of Operation Enduring Opportunity in 2011, VetFran has led 4,314 veterans to franchise ownership.
As a Chairman’s Corps partner with VetFran, our company knows firsthand about supporting military service members and veterans. The company’s culture is founded in its inherent belief in America and those who serve in our military. After all, liberty to a veteran means “your time.”
In a national campaign, our company partnered with Cell Phones For Soldiers, the brainchild of teenagers Brittany and Robby Bergquist of Norwell, Mass. Participating Liberty Tax offices are drop-off points for cell phones, iPods and toner cartridges which are then redeemed for cards that provide free telephone calls for the troops. As a National Premier Partner, Liberty Tax Service has contributed more than 140,000 used cell phones since 2004 totaling more than 20 million minutes of calling time for military men and women.
To further extend support, our franchise system adopted and sponsored the mission of Wounded Wear, a non-profit founded by former combat wounded Navy SEAL Jason Redman in 2010. His goal is to provide free clothing, as well as modified clothing to wounded soldiers. Wounded Wear raises the awareness of the sacrifice wounded soldiers make, hosts wounded warrior empowerment and registration events, and sells fashionable Wounded Wear clothing for all Americans and patriots.
CEO and founder of Liberty Tax Service John Hewitt states, “It has been Liberty Tax Service’s duty to connect American heroes with the American Dream since the opening of our doors in 1997. When VetFran approached us early on to partner with their initiative, it was a no-brainer; our missions were one in the same.”
“Honorably discharged veterans have proved themselves as dedicated citizens and are more than welcome to join our Liberty family,” Hewitt adds.
As a seasonal company, Liberty Tax implements many grassroots programs and community events to stay in the minds of the people. VetFran has worked with us during several conferences and panel discussions as well as patriotic events. VetFran is an arm which Liberty Tax uses to connect with other franchisors, retired military professionals as well as veterans.
The case has been made on why franchisors should hire veterans. Franchisors must now sell themselves to the veterans who want to own a business of their own. The advantages to owning a franchise can fit neatly into a former soldier’s OPORD (operation order):
• Freedom routine
• Flexible hours
• Pride in helping others
• Stimulation from daily challenges, no dull office routine
• Leadership, the ability to mentor and motivate others can be extremely fulfilling
Franchisors have the power to create opportunities for veterans. Disney, Walmart and others are already heading up the movement. Coming together with VetFran, other franchisors can enlist in the operation and lower the unemployment rate for America’s most outstanding citizens. Veterans deserve a fighting chance on their own soil. VetFran fosters the relationship between franchises and all organizations that connect veterans to employment. Join the movement.
Martha O’Gorman is Chief Marketing Officer and one of the founders of Liberty Tax Service, a tax preparation company.
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