BCA Participates in Governor’s Veterans’ Hiring Summit

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Business Council of Alabama recently participated in a summit with veterans groups and employers to encourage the hiring of military veterans and to showcase resources for potential employers and for veterans who seek jobs.

The Governor’s Summit of Alabama Employers for Veterans coincidentally fell on the 240th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps and one day before the national Veterans’ Day holiday.

“Give us feedback how to help veterans,” Governor Robert Bentley said, declaring that “America would not be America without veterans.”

At the summit, the BCA participated in a breakout session on best practices. The summit provided an opportunity to address the various circumstances that may impede the hiring of veterans and to discuss ways to hire and retain veterans.

“Veterans are experienced potential employees,” BCA President and CEO William J. Canary said. “Veterans have been trained to be part of a team and have experience managing personnel, money, and equipment. Veterans deserve hiring consideration.”

Department of Labor Commissioner Fitzgerald Washington hosted a select group of leaders in business, industry, and government for a brainstorming session and to address various best practices that can lead to hiring and retaining veterans.

“Our goal is to market veterans as job applicants having tremendous talent and potential for contributing to business and industry in growth and profitability,” Washington said. “By hiring veterans, it assures them and their families that we truly appreciate their sacrifice and service to our country.”

Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield said the Legislature in the 2015 regular session passed the New Jobs Credit Act that authorizes a 3 percent payroll tax credit for creating new jobs and an additional one-half percentage point tax credit if 12 percent of the new jobs go to veterans. If the new jobs are in a targeted county, the tax credit can be as much as 4 percent, Canfield said.

“We have an incentive to be utilized as we recruit companies to come to Alabama and also we work with existing companies that take a pledge to hire veterans,” Canfield said.

Breakout sessions included state agencies, active duty and retired military officers, including a retired Navy rear admiral, two-star Army general, and a three-star Marine Corps general.

U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, whose district includes two major military bases, said many veterans face unemployment risks caused partly by sudden discharges due to troop downsizing. The unemployment rate for veterans is higher than the unemployment rate of the general population.

“The challenge is to translate skills into a competitive advantage in the hiring process,” said Lt. Col. Chris Forsythe, Director-South, Community Integration Chairman’s Office of Reintegration, Office of the Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Linda Sykes, a 20-year Marine Corps veteran and the talent acquisition manager for the Southern Co., said Alabama employers are in a good position to partner with the state’s numerous military bases. She said apprenticeship programs are available for active duty military.

“To hire veterans takes a commitment from senior leadership,” she said.

The summit provided information on available resources and services when considering a veteran for employment.

Although there are numerous state and federal veteran service and information resources, a starting place for information is the state of Alabama’s website at www.joblink.Alabama.gov.

The U.S. Department of Defense website, www.ESGR.mil, is an employer resource guide for supporting the National Guard and Reserve.

-Dana Beyerle