GM Disney Veterans Seminar highlights the value of veteran skills, experience, dedication in civilian workforce

DETROIT, Mich. – Michigan once again affirmed its commitment to its veterans and their role in the state’s continued economic recovery today, hosting the GM Disney Seminar at the GM World Headquarters at the Renaissance Center.

Sponsored by The Walt Disney Company, USAA and General Motors and presented by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA), the GM Disney Veterans Seminar brought together more than 300 Michigan-based and regional businesses with the goal of creating more veteran hiring programs and helping veterans seamlessly transition into civilian careers.

Highlights of the GM Disney Veterans Seminar included:

· Employer Best Practices – The panel discussion included MVAA-certified silver-level Veteran-Friendly Employers GM, Whirlpool and Quicken Loans as well as national veteran-friendly employers USAA and Strategic Staffing. The panel focused on the value veterans bring to their teams and best practices each company put in place to recruit and retain veterans, including rotational programs, mentorship programs, affinity networks and understanding how military skill sets fit into their company’s positions.

· Veterans Transitioning Back to the Workforce – The panel discussion included veterans from a variety of backgrounds – both enlisted and officer – and panelists explored how they experienced the transition to civilian life and their successes and challenges. Panelists discussed how they perceived fellow employees, as well as how fellow employees’ comments and actions affected them. Most notably, they examined how their employers assisted in easing their transition through mentorship and office culture workgroups.

· Resources Available for Hiring Veterans – The panel discussion included panelists from the state and federal level. The discussion focused on veteran talent in Michigan and the resources available to employers and their veteran employees to assist them in developing a veteran hiring strategy and recruiting and retaining veteran talent.

“Our service men and women, past and present, put their lives on the line to help ensure our safety at home. This seminar is another important way to encourage support for our veterans during their transition from military to civilian life,” Gov. Rick Snyder said. “The veteran community has a unique and impressive range of skills that are a key asset to employers and an important component of Michigan’s talent. We owe our returning heroes opportunities that will ensure long-term career success and personal fulfillment.”

According to the 2013 U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), the unemployment rate for Michigan veterans was 10.6 percent, with a 13.5 percent unemployment rate for Post-9/11 veterans.

The committee’s 2011 report showed Michigan’s veteran unemployment rate was 16 percent. However, the unemployment rate for Post-9/11 veterans was 29.4 percent – nearly twice the 2013 rate and the highest in the nation.

“As Michigan’s economy continues to recover, we must make sure that veterans have their place in that reinvention,” MVAA Director Jeff Barnes said. “Through partnerships with other state departments, local organizations, private companies and our Veteran-Friendly Employers, MVAA is committed to preparing employers to welcome veterans into their workforce.”

In response to the 2011 JEC report, MVAA created the Veteran-Friendly Employer program, which recognizes organizations for their commitment to recruiting, training and retaining top veteran talent. Veteran-friendly employers can earn bronze-, silver- or gold-level status, and with each level comes an increased commitment to including veteran talent in their workforce.

Since its creation in 2014, 20 organizations have earned the designation, including General Motors.

“Thousands of highly skilled, well-qualified veterans already live and work in Michigan, and we want to continue to attract these talented men and women to our state,” Barnes said. “As more veterans transition out of the military and into their civilian careers, we want to engage with them earlier in their transition and let them know about the many Michigan companies who understand the value of their skills.”

To view the panel discussions or learn more about MVAA’s Veteran-Friendly Employer program, visit

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