During the 2022 International Franchise Association’s Annual Convention in San Diego, the IFA Foundation and VetFran hosted a special seminar titled “Winning the War for Talent: Tapping into the Veteran Pipeline.” Sponsored through the generous support of USAA, this session brought together Veterans, non-profit leaders, and business owners to address the serious job market issues facing key communities.
The current chairman of the VetFran committee, Ralph Yarusso, CFE, is an Air Force Veteran and now works for Brand One. Ralph moderated the panel, and led an outstanding discussion among the other four panelists on how Veterans and military families are making valuable contributions to the business community.
Kicking off the panel was Dr. Mike Haynie, the Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (also an Air Force Veteran). Dr. Haynie dove into facts and figures exploring how 72% of World War II Veterans either owned their own business or were employed by another Veteran owned small business. Today, Veterans represent 13%-18% of all small business owners. Dr. Haynie really believes that military service uniquely prepares someone to go out and run a small business due to their ability to work within an environment of constrained resources.
Next up was Navy Veteran Eric Eversole, the President of Hiring Our Heroes. Hiring Our Heroes is working to assist the business community in finding talent, specifically Veterans leaving the service. Eric said that every person, every Veteran, every business, must tell their story. What difference are you making, what impact are you having? Eric said, “People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. If you are not going to tell your story, someone else will, and you may not like it!” Veterans are drawn to a life of service and that isn’t going to change when they take off the uniform.
Kathy Roth-Douquet is the CEO of Blue Star Families, which was founded to empower military families by connecting them with their civilian neighbors. Her pride in America was evident. In her opening statement, she said, “This is a great country that gives people opportunities to build a better future for themselves and their families.” She focused on how many military spouses are interested in owning their own small business, especially with unemployment among that group at 34%. “The relationship between the franchises and the military-connected community is a very natural one.”
The fourth non-profit leader on the panel was Art delaCruz, CEO of Team Rubicon and retired Naval officer. Team Rubicon is a disaster recovery group that allows Veterans to give back during times of disaster around the globe. One thing that Art said which struck me was this: “Across these communities… every opportunity you have to employ a Veteran, to tell their story, to help not just tell their story but help write their story of success in their future will be an incredible contribution in communities across the country.”
There were more than 70 people in attendance at the panel in San Diego, with some great questions at the end. I encourage you to listen to the entire conversation and consider how you can do more with your business to hire Veterans and military spouses. And again, a special Thank You to USAA for helping us put together this great panel in San Diego!