A Tough-Minded Look at Putting Vets in Good Jobs

Job networking crowd.

The following is commentary by Dan Goldenberg of the Call of Duty Endowment. As part of an organization that works with thousands of veteran jobs organizations, Dan has unique insight for employers when it comes to hiring vets.

There are many non-profits out there trying to help American veterans—by some estimates more than 60,000. Sadly, while almost all are well-intentioned, very few are well run. At the Call of Duty Endowment, we are constantly on the hunt to find organizations that are both effective and efficient in putting veterans into high quality careers; and when we find them, we fund them. If an organization is going to be successful in placing veterans into our economy, it needs to behave in a way that is required to succeed in that economy.  Results must be measured, goals must be set and variance from expected performance must be aggressively addressed.

While much of America's recent progress made in putting vets into jobs is encouraging, major problems still exist. With a flood of service members being involuntarily released from the military today and young veterans having an unemployment rate exceeding that of Iraq, we have miles to go.

One of the hardest elements of the Call of Duty Endowment's work is finding organizations that behave like well run businesses, consistently delivering results against commitments and doing so in an efficient manner.  To address that need, we are launching the Seal of Distinction program that will recognize the best non-profit organizations in the veterans' employment arena. As many as 10 winners that have demonstrated the highest standards of results and accountability will be recognized with this award and a $30,000 grant.  Those organizations equipped to scale will also be eligible for future Endowment grants of $250,000 or more. To start the process, we are asking interested organizations to complete a detailed self-assessment of their practices. Finalists' submissions will be validated by Deloitte, who has agreed to donate its time and expertise to providing impartial third-party validation, ensuring nominees are meeting the high standards of the Seal. Organizations that do not win will still benefit from having scrubbed their operations with our assessment tool—many simply do not know what good performance requires and this approach will help.  The Endowment has begun soliciting applicants this summer and will announce winners in the fall.

Patriotism will only take us so far in reintegrating our veterans. If they are to succeed in this economy, vets need to compete for jobs prepared to show employers why it's in their interest to hire them. Our tough-minded approach aims to find and support the best organizations at arming our veterans for the job market; they deserve nothing less.

Dan Goldenberg is the Executive Director of the Call of Duty Endowment, an experienced business leader, commander in the Navy Reserve, and former special assistant to the Secretary of the Navy. He is a graduate of the United States Naval Academy and Harvard Business School.

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