Ten soldiers and two airmen were recognized for completing the Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program during a ceremony Nov. 14 at the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce offices in Union Station in Kansas City, Mo.
“The Corporate Fellowship Program is a 12-week program that affords an opportunity to service members who are within 180 days of separating or retiring from military service to work within corporations that are looking for expertise at the mid- to senior level,” said Col. Harry Hung, Fort Leavenworth Garrison commander. “The Corporate Fellowship is a mutually beneficial program — our transitioning soldiers get a challenging opportunity to immerse themselves in the civilian corporate culture, and businesses are able to receive and assess highly experienced and professional candidates.”
The first HOH Corporate Fellowship Program was conducted in Seattle in 2011. The program began at Fort Leavenworth with corporate partners from the Kansas City area in 2017 through the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program. This marked the ninth cohort to graduate in the Kansas City area with 11 corporations participating. Of the 14 fellows in the most recent cohort, eight had already accepted job offers. Two missed the ceremony because they were working.
“The reason for the birth of the Hiring Our Heroes Program and others like it was to help decrease unemployment among the veteran population,” Hung said. “At one point, the military was paying out over $1 billion in unemployment to separated service members.”
Missouri Gov. Michael Parson, himself an Army veteran, was the guest speaker for the event.
Parson said he enlisted in the Army at age 19, eventually leaving after six years of active duty as a military police sergeant. The experience set him up for a career in Missouri law enforcement that lasted more than 22 years.
“People are willing to reach out to our veterans and make sure to give them opportunities that … we didn’t have until these programs came about,” Parson said. “For a time like now, when corporations and companies are looking for good people, it’s just another opportunity for all of us to be able to do more.”
Parson said Missouri and Kansas need to do more to keep veterans and their families in the states.
“We’re talking today about getting good jobs for our military, but it’s just as important that we take care of the spouses,” Parson said. “That’s another opportunity to hire good people.”