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Companies honored for hiring and supporting veterans

We know the problem: the jobless rate for military members who have served our country since 9/11 is significantly higher than the general population. 

Each year, the Families and Work Institute, a non-profit and non-partisan research organization, honors companies that have gone the extra mile to help vets as they return to the civilian workplace.

The winners of the Work Life Legacy Military Awards for 2013: Cornell University, JPMorgan Chase, Merck and Verizon Communications.

“Each of these companies has generated a holistic approach by recruiting, hiring and training vets and giving them a path inside their organizations to sustain employment and create a bright future,” said Adm. Mike Mullen, USN (Ret.), former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a member of the institute’s board.

For example, JPMorgan Chase has a dedicated military recruiting team and an internal military training program that has created more than 5,300 jobs for veterans in just two years.

“We think it’s important not only because it’s good for our business, but we truly believe that we owe this generation of service members the opportunity for success, and jobs is one of them,” said Maureen Casey, managing director for military and veterans affairs at JPMorgan Chase.

Chase and 10 other companies launched the 100,000 Jobs Mission two years ago. The goal is to hire 100,000 vets by 2020. To date, there have been almost 65,000 new hires.

The bank was also cited for co-founding the Institute for Veterans and Military Families with Syracuse University to do research on actionable projects and programs. For example, the institute created the Veterans Career Transition Program, a free online service that lets returning vets learn marketable skills that improve their chances of landing a job in the private sector.

The other winners:

Cornell University’s on-campus Veterans Affairs office offers private professional counseling for both employees and the local community. The university provides extensive support services for military families, including a family “helper list” of those who can assist with family care, education and household maintenance. 

Merck has an employee affinity group to help vets network and find mentors and a transitional assistance program to give veterans employment opportunities.

Verizon Communications assists military spouses with finding jobs. Its Emergency Military Leave policy gives employees on active duty benefits for an additional year beyond the provisions of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. 

There were eight honorable mentions: Bon Secours, Citi, Deloitte, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Sodexo and The Walt Disney Company.

Veterans are not looking for any special consideration, “just the opportunity to fulfill their dreams – and that takes employment,” Admiral Mullen told NBC News. He urges companies to recruit vets, not just wait for them to knock on the door.

“Business cases studies show that over the long term, veterans are really good bets for the bottom line,” he said. “They have the discipline, the technical skills and the leadership skills. They’re loyal, they’re good team players and they lead well. All of those skills translate to an employee who is really going to make a difference in almost any organization.”

Herb Weisbaum is The ConsumerMan. Follow him on Facebook and Twitteror visit The ConsumerMan website.