Hire Heroes USA

Grantee Story

After serving for 26 years in the U.S. Air Force as a religious affairs and program manager, Esmeralda Aharon had mentored dozens of senior-level airmen. When it came to her transition to a civilian career, however, she wasn’t sure where to start.

Each year the military discharges 270,000 service members. Eighty percent won’t have a job lined up. Data show women veterans, military spouses, and junior enlisted veterans earn lower salaries and have higher rates of underemployment compared to other transitioning service members and veterans. For military spouses, the unemployment rate is four-times greater than the national average.

Esmeralda needed help narrowing her focus and translating her skills to fit private sector job descriptions. “No one can do this alone,” Esmeralda shared. “It takes a village and Hire Heroes has the village we need to be successful.” Her Hire Heroes USA Transition Specialist provided her with the personalized attention and guidance that she needed to succeed. The specialist also connected Esmeralda to a volunteer mentor who helped her bolster her interviewing skills, hone her networking abilities and improve her professional presence on LinkedIn.

An investment from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation has allowed Hire Heroes USA to expand their capacity to support more veterans and military spouses and to grow their mentoring services program from 800 to 1,400 volunteers. Additionally, clients who’ve been hired are coming back to volunteer as mentors, paying it forward for another veteran or military spouse. This has made a huge impact on their clients. Data show that if a client works with a mentor, they are one-and-a-half times more likely to get hired.

In 2020, Hire Heroes USA had the most successful year in its history, assisting a record 11,500 veterans and military spouses in securing jobs. The organization is well-positioned to continue to grow and serve even more veterans like Esmeralda. She’s now serving as the Program Director for Staff and Community Engagement at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine, a civilian job that has the perfect mix of what she was looking for in her next career.

Media Contact: Sarah Elbert, Communications Manager Sarah.Elbert@clarkfoundationdc.org