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:
- Examining the business case for hiring veterans and the State of Illinois' veteran employment initiative - the Illinois Hires Heroes Consortium.
- Sharing best practices in the areas of finding veterans, military-to-civilian skills translation, and establishing veteran affinity groups.
- Hearing from an expert panel about key issues regarding disabled veterans.
- Discussing best practices around tracking veterans, as well as employer hiring events.
- Using member case studies to examine the comprehensive set of best practices implemented by leaders in veteran employment.
- Hosting a joint meeting with the McCormick Foundation's Veterans Higher Education Affinity Group to understand best practices for building pipelines for student veterans between higher education and civilian employment.
- Hosting a meeting with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), which focused on creating pipelines between employers and Local Veterans’ Employment Representatives (LVERs). LVERs are a key state resource, funded through a federal grant and located throughout Illinois, who are dedicated to helping employers with their veteran employment efforts.
- Sharing best practices for veteran mentorships and internships.
- Building relationships with Illinois Joining Forces and its network of veteran-serving organizations and exploring the value that the Illinois Hires Heroes Consortium offers its members.
- Hearing from experts about the characteristics of women veterans and sharing best practices in recruiting and retaining women veterans.
- Sharing best practices around veteran tracking, including a presentation on the new OFCCP requirements as well as a discussion with a panel of employers who are implementing best practices.
- Discussing the programs offered to service members, as they transition from the military to the civilian sector – with a focus on how employers can engage with these programs and strengthen their veteran employment pipelines.
- Sharing the findings from recent studies of veteran retention and longer-term performance in the workplace, as well as best practices for retaining veterans.
- Discussing employer/community partnerships and hosting a resource fair for members to learn about local community resources and explore potential partnerships.
- Examining best practices around veteran retention, including establishing a Veteran Employee Resource Group (VERG) to build an environment of peer support and provide opportunities for professional development, networking and community service.
They have also set the first key benchmark for all Commercial Club members who support this effort:
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.
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.