Call to Duty: Citi's Retail Partners and Citi Salutes Support Our Nation's Veterans
By John Tien, Managing Director, Citi Retail Services November 17, 2017 02:00 PM
Since its designation as a national holiday in 1936 to honor the military, Veterans Day has become synonymous with reflection, parades and yes, sales. Initially beginning as an opportunity for service members to find discounts at their favorite retailers, the holiday has now expanded to include all consumers. But the retail industry's support of veterans goes well beyond a sales event that honors our country’s military by providing our veterans with career opportunities and resources once their service concludes. As a 24-year veteran of the U.S. Army, where I served three combat tours in Iraq and as a national security policy advisor in three White House administrations, I have seen firsthand how today's military veterans can continue to serve our Nation. For veterans to provide such continued service though, they need their fellow citizens to help them transition from military to civilian life, and retailers proudly provide that bridge. As a Managing Director in our Citi Retail Services organization and in particular supporting our Macy’s partner, I am inspired and amazed by all of the work our retail partners and fellow Citi colleagues do to help veterans and military families.
From nationwide department stores to grocery chains, retailers across the country have initiated noteworthy hiring programs and training initiatives to provide our veterans with opportunities. Within Citi Retail Services, several of our retail partners have created transition programs to help active military service members embark on the next chapters of their lives. Over the past six years, The Home Depot has built or renovated more than 33,000 service members’ homes, and given more than $198 million to veteran causes. In 2013, Macy’s partnered with Got Your Six, a non-profit dedicated to empowering veterans and providing them with the skills they need to succeed after the military. Since then, the collaboration has helped fund the housing of over 41,000 chronically homeless veterans and secured 585,000 commitments to hire veterans and military spouses. Sears has a long history of supporting veteran causes, dating back to WWI. This year, Sears launched its 10th annual Heroes at Home campaign and, through various non-profit organizations like Rebuilding Together and Operation Homefront, has raised more than $22 million to transform the homes of low-income military families and provide financial assistance to veterans, including providing mortgage free-homes. Both Best Buy and ExxonMobil have hiring programs that specifically recruit and help transition veterans into their respective companies. At Best Buy, they have a Military Skills Translator engine on their recruiting page and at ExxonMobil, they have a program called the Veteran Advocacy and Support Team, which recruits new veteran employee candidates and supports those already employed within the company.
These initiatives are especially relevant, given that the U.S. Department of Housing estimates that nearly 40,000 veterans are homeless on any given night and the fact that underemployment remains a major issue especially for post 9/11 veterans. A recent study showed that 44% of all veterans leave their first post-military job after active service. Furthermore, with more than 200,000 members of the military returning to civilian life every year, the need for jobs and training programs is more critical than ever. And while military skills like teamwork, leadership, and discipline are transferable, veterans may need assistance in translating their military experiences into civilian workforce languages and frameworks.
Through our own Citi Salutes program founded in 2012, Citi currently serves thousands of veterans and military families through employment support initiatives and community involvement as well as providing financial services to our active military servicemembers, veterans, and military family members. In 20 of our North American sites and through our Citi Salutes and North American Service Initiative chapters, our employees help host job fairs, conduct mock interview sessions, volunteer at their local Veterans Administration hospitals, and partner with post 9-11 veteran service organizations such as The Mission Continues and Team Rubicon to provide on-the-ground community service in our Citi sites' neighborhoods. Through our Citi Salutes chapters in Boise, Idaho and Gray, Tennessee, our Citi Retail Services operations center colleagues have contributed in so many ways. They have partnered with their local military bases to hire returning National Guardsmen and Reservists; helped provide a military service dog for a local returning veteran; planted U.S. flags at the National Cemeteries in their respective cities; supported their local Operation Stand Down events to help employ, clothe, and feed homeless veterans; and earned one of the highest Department of Defense recognitions: the Employer Support of Guard and Reserves (ESGR) Patriot Award. And just last year, Citi created two new partnerships to help transitioning veterans: one in-person through Hire Heroes USA, and another virtually through the sponsorship of Military.com's new app that assists military members in their transition to civilian life, allowing users to search for upcoming job fairs, providing financial guidance and more.
As we celebrate and acknowledge the veteran community this month, and as both a Soldier and a Citi Retail Services team member, I want to thank my fellow Citi colleagues and all of our Citi Retail Services partners, for not just honoring and celebrating our military, but also helping to welcome back, transition, and support our veterans as they rejoin our communities as civic assets.