Event brings together businesses, community groups to support service members

GREEN BAY, WI. FEB. 14, 2020 – Business and community organizations met Friday for the first “Veteran-Ready Wisconsin Summit,” hosted by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) as part of their veteran talent attraction initiative, Mission Wisconsin.

Launched in 2018, Mission Wisconsin is the first state-level initiative to directly engage with military service members and their families as they begin the transition process. The program has gained national recognition for reducing the barriers service members often face and maximizing employment opportunities for veterans. With more than 200,000 service members transitioning into civilian life annually, the program is also helping Wisconsin businesses find highly skilled employees.

“Mission Wisconsin is a great way to achieve two important goals: helping service members and their families transition from military to civilian life, and making sure Wisconsin businesses have access to a pool of highly trained, skilled employees,” said Sam Rikkers, WEDC deputy secretary and chief operating officer.

Mission Wisconsin includes an integrated marketing campaign that highlights Wisconsin’s quality of life and outstanding state benefits, as well as face-to-face events with service members at military bases around the world. The initiative also includes follow-up case management and marketing to service members who meet with the Wisconsin team. This holistic “support through transition” connection helps service members and their families meet their personal and professional goals as they move from military to civilian life.

“Wisconsin is recognized as a national leader offering ‘wraparound’ services to transitioning service members,” added DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman. “Our state provides educational opportunities, benefits and a quality of life that simply can’t be found anywhere else.”

Drawing on public-private partnerships, Wisconsin is building a network of community, educational and veteran resources in addition to employment opportunities for service members when they arrive in Wisconsin. At today’s event, leaders heard from recently transitioned service members who have been assisted through the program and have moved to Wisconsin. Other speakers included U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, DWD Secretary Frostman, WEDC Deputy Secretary Rikkers and Marnie Holder, director of special events with Hiring our Heroes, a service of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Mission Wisconsin businesses and community partners also shared how they are using this initiative to support their employee recruitment efforts.

Attendees learned about veteran-ready best practices they can implement in their workplaces and how to apply for the “Vets Ready Employer” designation, a new program from DWD to help identify employers who provide additional support, resources and outreach to veterans and military families. The deadline for applying for the “Vets Ready Employer” designation is May 31; recipients will be announced in November.

Since launching in 2018, Mission Wisconsin has attended more than 25 summits in eight states and three countries and followed up on nearly 2,000 leads from those events.

Business and community organizations interested in expanding their recruitment efforts can learn more by visiting www.wedc.org/hire-veterans to become a Mission Wisconsin partner.