Veterans Employment Initiative

CLICK HERE to watch the CBS This Morning clip describing the Chicago Botanic Garden’s work with veterans, which aired on Veterans Day 2017.


Our mission: helping Commercial Club member companies be veteran-friendly employers who implement best practices in veteran recruitment, hiring and retention.

Veterans returning to Illinois bring tremendous strengths and skills to potential employers, but some face significant challenges in moving from military to civilian employment.  As the region’s largest employers, who is better positioned to recruit new employees from this pool of talented and dedicated men and women?

More than 50 leading Club member organizations have volunteered to spearhead this effort and form a core Veterans Working Group, chaired by David Hiller, President and CEO of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

The core Veterans Working Group has been meeting since the Summer of 2013 to discuss key veteran employment issues and share best practices. Each meeting has had a specific focus:

They have also set the first key benchmark for all Commercial Club members who support this effort:

Key Benchmark #1: Join the Illinois Hires Heroes Consortium (IHHC)  and adopt the IHHC best practices for recruiting, human resource training and veteran retention.

At the November 2013 Commercial Club luncheon, the effort was rolled out to the full Club membership as the Veterans Employment Initiative (VEI). Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient, served as the keynote speaker for that event.

The tradition of devoting the November Commercial Club luncheon to our nation’s veterans continued in 2014. David Hiller, chairman of the Veterans Working Group, provided an update on the group’s work and encouraged all Commercial Club members to implement best practices in veteran employment. General Richard Myers, retired Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served as the keynote speaker for that luncheon.

The November 2015 luncheon celebrated the service of America’s veterans, as well as the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The keynote speaker for that luncheon was Anthony Odierno, Board Chairman of the Wounded Warrior Project and Executive Director of Military and Veterans Affairs for JPMorgan Chase. As with previous lunches, Commercial Club members were provided with an update on the work of the Veterans Working Group and encouraged to join the Veterans Employment Initiative.

The keynote program for the November 2016 luncheon was a conversation between two decorated Navy SEALS, retired Rear Admiral Scott P. Moore and retired Captain Steve Fitzgerald, who discussed what it means to be a Navy SEAL and how military skills can contribute to success in the civilian sector. In addition, Commercial Club member Pat Ryan Jr. provided his perspective on the value that veterans bring to the civilian workforce – Steve Fitzgerald serves as CEO of MAXDigital, one of the companies launched by Ryan’s INCISENT Labs – and Veterans Working Group chair David Hiller shared some of the key best practices that have been highlighted during Working Group meetings.

William McNulty, co-founder of Team Rubicon and founder and CEO of Team Rubicon Global, served as the keynote speaker at the November 2017 luncheon. Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. This innovative model harnesses the unique skills of veterans from around the world to provide emergency relief during times of disaster, while offering those veterans a renewed sense of purpose, community and identity through their service.

Members of the VEI are part of a web-based learning community, spearheaded by the core Veterans Working Group. This webpage is the portal to that community. Visit often to stay up-to-date on best practices, upcoming veteran hiring events and external resources that will support your veteran hiring efforts.

All members of the VEI are urged to join the Illinois Hires Heroes Consortium (IHHC) and demonstrate your committment to employing Illinois' returning veterans.

External Resources

Upcoming Events

VWG Member Company Employment Links