Hiring our Heroes: Bridging the Gap Between Military and Civilian Life

Veterans Support & Mental Health Care

Launched in 2011 as a nationwide effort to connect Veterans, service members, and military spouses with meaningful employment opportunities, Hiring our Heroes (HOH) is a program initiated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

With a goal of bridging the gap between the military/civilian workforce, the Chamber’s vision was to create a movement across America in hundreds of communities where veterans and military families return every day. To accomplish this, the Chamber called on state and local chambers and partners from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to join forces and do exactly what the program states: hire our heroes. 

Image courtesy of the HOH Facebook page

Being that a focus of Endeavors is to serve Veterans and military family members, we were excited to answer the call and join in on this worthy program. In 2017, Endeavors jumped on board with the Hiring our Heroes program, officially hosting our first HOH Fellow at The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors in El Paso, Texas.

Assisting Veterans, transitioning service members, and military spouses in finding meaningful employment opportunities, The Hiring our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program runs for 12-weeks, three times a year. In the Endeavors program, HOH Fellows are connected to opportunities for hands-on training and mentoring while earning certifications and helping Endeavors tap into a pool of top talent in our communities.  

Endeavors’ most recent fellow, Jose David Gonzales (David), enlisted in the Army at 19 years old and served in the military for 25 years. During his time, David deployed in support of Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq, and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and completed numerous assignments, including Tank Gunner, Drill Instructor, Senior Career Management Advisor, and Operations Supervisor.  While each assignment proved admirable and provided a wealth of experience, David found that when he transitioned to civilian life, he needed some outside perspective in order to advance his post-military career.  This is where Endeavors and Hiring our Heroes came in. 

In an effort to augment his skill set, David officially started his Hiring Our Heroes Fellowship at The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Endeavors, El Paso on January 19, 2021. He now has a firm grasp on the program and what it entails and appreciates that he is able to network with successful professionals and understand the execution of a nonprofit organization.

Regarding his time thus far at Endeavors, David said, “I’m highly motivated and inspired by being part of the Endeavors Team (and by their) focus on assisting El Paso’s citizens, service members, Veterans, and their spouses.”  He went on to say, “I love the culture of this organization, which makes it a great fit for my personality and values.” 

After he finishes his fellowship, David has several career goals, including earning a Master of Arts in Leadership Studies and, later down the road, serving in a managerial or leadership role within the El Paso community.

He also has his sights set on continuing his duty as a member of the Endeavors family, and given the nature of the program, this isn’t just a pipe dream.  Since joining the HOH program in 2017, we have hosted 24 Fellows, five of whom were offered full-time employment with the organization. 

One such fellow, Ryan Schneider, immediately stood out due to the leadership and project management skills he had learned in the Air Force. During his time as an Outreach & Community Fellowship Intern, Ryan proved to be a tremendous asset to Endeavors. At the conclusion of his Fellowship, Ryan was hired as a Communications Manager and now serves as our Recruiting & Engagement Specialist.

Though the HOH Fellowship program provides on-the-job training and exposure to the various services we provide in our communities, its reach goes far deeper. As Ben Miranda, Endeavors’ Director of Operational Impact & Business Development and a U.S. Air Force Veteran, explains, “Fellows also learn that they can have a fulfilling and meaningful post-military career in a nonprofit organization, such as Endeavors.” And for some, this is invaluable.

To learn more about Hiring our Heroes, visit hiringourheroes.org.  

Endeavors, a San Antonio-based nonprofit, is a longstanding national nonprofit agency that provides an array of programs and services supporting children, families, Veterans, and those struggling with mental illness, disabilities, disasters, or emergencies. Endeavors has served vulnerable people in need since 1969 through personalized services. For more information, please visit www.endeavors.org.

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