The opening pitch of a campaign to hire half a million veterans and their spouses by the end of 2013 took place Wednesday at Nationals Park.
Nearly 700 veterans and their spouses took part in the free job fair. It was hosted by the Washington Nationals and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's National Chamber Foundation.
"Hiring Our Heroes is a nationwide campaign, a grassroots campaign, to help veterans and military spouses find meaningful employment," says retired Marine Col. Kevin Schmiegle, executive director of the program.
Laura Dempsey runs a program within Hiring Our Heroes that focuses specifically on the the spouses of veterans and active-duty personnel.
"Military spouses have different challenges from veterans," Dempsey said. "They are a highly mobile population, constantly the new employee in their work, and they don't have a lot of networks or mentors to help them plan a career."
The year 2013 has been designated the "year of the military spouse," and Dempsey says they have plans to greatly expand their program.
"We're going to put together a council of more than a dozen of the nation's top employers who are dedicated not just to hiring spouses, but to fixing their own programs within their companies to build best-practices," Dempsey said. "And we're going to put them in the room with our top-10 best non-profit partners."