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Officials kick veteran employment efforts into high gear

MADISON, Wis. -- The mission to lower the unemployment rate among service members and veterans continued at Schneider National Inc. in Green Bay, Wis., Monday when Schneider committed to hiring 650 military veterans this year and next - and state and federal leaders agreed to help.

"What I like to tell service members of all ranks and all branches is, you have no idea how great you can be," said Mike Hinz, vice president of driver recruiting for Schneider National. "Whether you stay in uniform or you get out and get into the corporate world, you have no idea how great you can be and how much your skills and attributes are needed."

Schneider's goal supports state and national efforts to put veterans to work. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has proclaimed 2012 the Year of the Veteran and Monday, declared April 4 as "Schneider National Hire a Hero Day, " marking Schneider's 20 years of actively recruiting current and former service members for employment.

"There are three compelling reasons to hire a veteran," Walker said. "One, it's patriotic. Secondly, and you guys get this at Schneider, it's good for the company, too. Our military personnel and veterans are well trained, well prepared, they're dedicated, they're committed, they understand discipline and organization. They're a great asset to our employers.

"That's something we've been pushing this year, but you've been pushing the past 20 years," he continued. "That's a real testament to the commitment you've made. Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is alive and thriving in the state of Wisconsin, and I think there are few if any companies that exhibit that better than Schneider National."

Walker said the third reason to hire a veteran is the restoration of the Wisconsin G.I. Bill, which can offset training costs for newly hired veterans. He also outlined some bills he signed into law earlier in the day, as part of his "Year of the Veteran" initiative, that makes it easier for veterans and their spouses to get licensing and credentialing.

"We're trying to make it easier to hire veterans in Wisconsin," Walker said.

But it's more than proclamations. Also on hand were representatives from the Employer Partnership of the Armed Forces (EPO), including Director Erin Thede and Maj. Gen. Keith Thurgood, chief of staff and deputy commanding general for support with the U.S. Army Reserve; and Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, and members of the Wisconsin Service Member Support Division's employment resource connection - all collaborating on the best way to put service members and veterans back to work.

Schneider works with EPO to connect service members with jobs and also partners with the Veterans Administration to help veterans gain commercial drivers licenses through their apprenticeship program. They recently expanded their outreach to include the Wisconsin National Guard and played a key role in the March 30 Wisconsin National Guard Business Summit focuses on educating all employers about the value of employing military veterans.

"By working collaboratively with groups like the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs, Military Affairs, Workforce Development, the National Guard, the Army Reserve and the Employer Partnership Office, we have a huge opportunity to put more people to work in Wisconsin and across the United States," Hinz said.

Hinz himself retired from the military in 2008 and had deployed to Bosnia while employed at Schneider. Current and former service members work at all levels at Schneider, he added, and some - such as Dan Ammerman, a Schneider employee for more than 20 years and also a brigadier general in the Army Reserve - have deployed four times. Schneider guarantees their jobs and offers other services to employees who deploy with the military.

Hinz said Schneider needed military veterans, with their leadership and discipline, in its ranks.

Thurgood said he was impressed with what Wisconsin is doing for veterans and their spouses, and was happy to be working with Schneider in its national effort to hire service members and veterans.

"The military does two things really, really well that every business wants," he said. "They deliver results, and they grow leaders."

Dunbar credited Schneider for its leadership over the past 20 years in hiring veterans.

"Schneider's had the foresight and the commitment to make hiring veterans a priority," he said, and to make that commitment part of its corporate culture. "I salute you for having the wisdom to reach out to that human capital ... and make it part of your company. I hope other American companies will follow your leadership."

Erin Thede, EPO director, said that in light of anticipated troop reduction across the military, military branches should buy into programs such as EOP that work with service members to find employment.

"They're just waiting for someone to say, 'Here's how you're going to do it,'" Thurgood said. "Let's take a page from Wisconsin's government and Schneider and say, 'Here's how it might work.'"

Original content found here.
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