On Veterans Day, Prioritize Supporting and Hiring Gold Star Children  

Companies that hire Gold Star children learn they are disciplined and driven, just like their fallen Patriot parent.

In 2008 during the Great Recession, military veterans’ unemployment was a significant national problem and soared to more than twice the national average according to RAND Corporation. Servicemembers departing the military entered a challenging job market with an 8% civilian unemployment rate.  Veterans’ unemployment skyrocketed to 29% for 18–24-year-olds according to RAND Corporation.  In 2011, under the personal direction of CEO and President Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase & Co. led the corporate effort to solve the problem and started the “100,000 Jobs Mission“ to promote veteran employment, with a goal of hiring 100,000 veterans by 2020.  Many companies took up the challenge, creating military networking groups within their organizations and recruiting veterans to lead their recruiting and retention practices.

These deliberate efforts, by over 200 companies, were very successful and veterans’ unemployment has dropped to 3.9% by September 2021, nearly a full percentage point lower than the national average of 4.8%. To date, 686,126 veterans have been hired by the Jobs Mission since 2011. This has had other positive second and third order effects, for veterans, those companies, and our nation. That initiative now has an informal infrastructure across the United States of people who lead their veterans’ initiatives for JP Morgan, Starbucks, Comcast, USAA, and others.

Four years ago, Chief Executive Group and Thayer Leadership started the Patriots in Business Awards to honor the best companies with veteran & military initiatives. Although veteran hiring is vital, training, supporting, and honoring active duty, veterans, and military families is equally important and beneficial to companies as well. This annual award recognizes outstanding companies who are the gold standard for other companies who seek to support those who serve. Read about this year’s winners.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, we lost over 7,000 servicemen and women. Tragically, they left behind an estimated 20,000 children. Families that have lost a servicemember in combat are often referred to as “Gold Star Families.” Those Gold Star children are now growing up. Children of the Fallen Patriots Foundation has already funded college scholarships for over 2,100 of these children. And each year, as they graduate, it would honor the parents who made the ultimate sacrifice, if all the companies that have helped reduce veterans’ unemployment and support veterans and military families, could also prioritize supporting and hiring Gold Star children.

Companies like JP Morgan Chase that have prioritized hiring veterans soon realize it isn’t just the “right thing to do,” but it is also in the company’s best self-interest. Veterans all have leadership and team building experience, are disciplined, and driven. They all have the post-9/11 GI Bill and often pursue undergraduate and graduate schooling, improving themselves, at no cost to the company. Companies that start hiring veterans soon realize they should hire even more.

The same is true with hiring Gold Star children. These children were forced to grow up more quickly than their peers after the loss of their parent in combat. The Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation has found those children who choose to accept an academic scholarship are excellent students with an average GPA of 3.24. They are disciplined and driven, just like their fallen Patriot parent. Vineyard Vines, for example, is a major supporter of Children of the Fallen Patriots, by providing internships and hiring scholarship recipients upon their graduation. The feedback has been remarkable. Shep Murray, Vineyard Vines CEO & Co-Founder says, “Philanthropy and education are pillars of our brand, and through our ongoing partnership with Children of Fallen Patriots, we have been able to provide internships and full-time positions to the students within the Vineyard Vines organization. They have been spectacular team members.”

Those who made the ultimate sacrifice, and those in uniform now who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, should know that their nation will take care of their children, after they die. Prioritize supporting and hiring these children who have sacrificed so much for all of us.

David Kim is a partner in the private equity firm APAX. He and his wife Cynthia founded Children of the Fallen Patriots Foundation in 2000 and serves as the Chief Executive Officer. Dan Rice is the President of Thayer Leadership at West Point, a member of the board of Children of the Fallen Patriots, and recipient of the Purple Heart. They are U.S. Military Academy at West Point classmates, graduating in 1988, and combat veterans of Panama and Iraq respectively.