A NORTHEAST Missouri company received well-deserved recognition last week for its efforts to hire military veterans.
US Wellness Meats of Canton received the "Flag of Freedom Award" for hiring veterans through Missouri's Show-Me Heroes program. The award recognizes Missouri companies that make a commitment to hiring veterans through an on-the-job training program supported by the state.
Show-Me Heroes was established in 2010 by then-Gov. Jay Nixon to help connect military veterans with job opportunities when they return home from active service. Employers participating in the program pledge to increase efforts to recruit and interview veterans for job openings.
It was created in response to the extraordinary high unemployment rate across the country for veterans who served in active duty after the 2001 terrorist attacks, which, at the time, stood at about one-third higher than the overall national jobless rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
What made the situation especially troubling was that many returning soldiers were college graduates who held full-time jobs before being deployed, often multiple times. Under most circumstances, they would have climbed to the top of an employment pool.
However, many veterans found it difficult to translate the skills they had acquired in the military to civilian employment. Show-Me Heroes was one of many initiatives established across the country to help match veterans with employments opportunities.
In 2014, Missouri added an on-the-job training program for returning National Guard members and reservists and recently separated active-duty service members that Show-Me-Heroes employers agree to hire. The state reimburses employers for half of a participating workers' wages for up to 20 weeks.
Clearly, the program has been a success. By the end of last year, more than 8,300 veterans had been hired by the more than 5,000 participating Missouri businesses.
Unemployment, while now considerably lower than it was at the beginning of the decade during the darkest days of the Great Recession, can affect people of all ages in all walks of life.
But as the Show-Me Heroes program and others like it have demonstrated, service to your country under the worst of conditions should enhance a resume.