DNJ Article - Tenn. leads nation in combating veteran joblessness

Friday, April 17, 2015 | 03:38pm

Daily News Journal Article – (click to read full story)

Tennessee is leading the nation in addressing unemployment among military veterans, officials said Monday at a Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce event in Murfreesboro.

"Unemployment among National Guard was twice state average," said Steve Brophy, vice president, Government Affairs, Dollar General. After learning that fact, he decided to try to fix the issue in Tennessee, he said.

He said veterans bring valuable assets to the civilian world, both soft skills and hard skills, and that why he worked with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to develop Paychecks For Patriots.

Brophy said at "Bridging the Gap: Helping Employers Understand How to Effectively Hire Veterans."

The event served as an opportunity for 200 human resources professionals to explore and understand best practices for hiring and retaining military veterans in the workplace.

It focused on a range of topics, like a labor market update, what veterans want employers to know, how to support veterans within an organization and connections at Fort Campbell.

One of the main topics was efforts by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to address unemployment among veterans.

Brophy spoke about how the idea for Paychecks For Patriots was born in 2011 when Dollar General expanded into California.

As the company looked for qualified employees, he found Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, which is a nationwide program formed to help states invest in creating employment opportunities for active duty and other military veterans.

Brophy brought that seed of an idea back to Tennessee where Melinda Kelsey helped him plant and nurture it into Paychecks For Patriots.

"It was huge this year," said Kelsey, administrator for Communications, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Since it deployed in 2012, the event has helped many veterans get hired on the spot, she said.

(Photo: Jae S. Lee / The Tennessean)