MCLEAN, VA—In 2013, Hilton launched Operation: Opportunity, committing to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by 2018. The company reached the goal two years ahead of schedule and has hired 30,000.
Now, the company has pledged to making another 25,000 military hires by the end of 2025.
“When we launched Operation: Opportunity there were an estimated one million members of the military scheduled to draw down over the coming five years,” said Melissa Stirling, senior director of military programs, Hilton. “These returning veterans, and their spouses, have skills that are highly transferable and valued in the hospitality industry like empathy, communication, the ability to work under pressure, self-confidence, cultural and generational awareness, team leadership, decision-making and problem resolution. In our business of people serving people, these are skills that are integral to creating the kinds of meaningful experiences we deliver our guests every day.”
Stirling continued, “Military veterans and their families have made incredible sacrifices for our country, and we are strongly committed to ensuring they have a smooth transition and great careers when they return home from service. We’ve always felt strongly about this issue since our founder Conrad Hilton himself was a military veteran. We’re lucky to be in a position where we can create meaningful opportunities for this community. We opened a hotel a day last year and are on track to continue this growth, and we believe military spouses possess unique skills to fill roles across our business, spanning operations and call center support, culinary and food & beverage, sales, guest services, security, engineering and many others.”
The company has a dedicated military recruiting team—several of whom are veterans—who attend hiring fairs, and run virtual information and networking sessions to connect with veterans, military spouses and caregivers. “We help veterans and military spouses interpret their skills into resumes for the civilian workforce,” she said. “We participate in a number of programs that offer retraining to military affiliated candidates.”
After they are hired, programs are in place to help them in their careers. “We are committed to creating a military-friendly culture in a number of ways,” said Stirling. “We have a very active Military Team Member Resource Group that offers networking and development opportunities to members. Our Military Sponsorship program is set up to connect newly employed veterans with a veteran working at their hotel or corporate office to help them get acclimated and be a support network as they settle into the role. We also provide on-the-job training and development opportunities to help our veteran and military spouse Team Members to find success and grow their career here.”
Operation Opportunity also extends beyond employment opportunities. “We firmly believe in serving the communities where we live and work, and we support and volunteer with organizations such as the Canine Warrior Connection, The Boulder Crest Retreat, The Gary Sinise Foundation and The Warrior Games,” she said. “We are members of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation Hidden Heroes Employment Task Force where we are working with other companies to create best practices and guidelines around employing caregivers of wounded, ill and injured veterans. Additionally, we have partnered with The Psych Armor Institute, which provides a variety of resources, including online courses and a 24/7 hotline.”