A program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Hiring Our Heroes Celebrates Gratitude and Generosity During Virtual Awards Gala

A trepidatious soldier’s candor ignited Howard and Sheri Kersch Schultz’s passion to help service members and military families.

In 2014, during a post-deployment meet and greet event between the Schultzes, co-founders of the Schultz Family Foundation, and service members at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a 21-year-old soldier mentioned that he was more nervous about a job interview than he was about re-enlisting for another deployment.

“I think that was the turning point for us to understand that we had a job to do and that was helping young men and women transition from the military to civilian life,” said Sheri Kersch Schultz. “We are keenly aware that the transition for men and women returning from the military may not be an easy one.”

The Schultz Family Foundation has committed to ensuring veterans and military families are integrated in their communities and connected with meaningful employment opportunities. For their generous commitment in collaborating with nonprofit organizations, such as Hiring Our Heroes, Howard and Sheri Kersch Schultz were honored with the 2020 President’s Award for Lifetime Achievement at the 10th Annual Lee Anderson Hiring Our Heroes Awards Gala on November 18. The gala, presented by USAA, was a virtual celebration featuring distinguished speakers and highlighting award winners from around the country.

Distinguished speakers included Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. James C. McConville and his spouse Mrs. Maria McConville; Army Master Sgt. (Ret.) Leroy Petry, Medal of Honor recipient; Marine Corps Sgt. (Ret.) Dakota Meyer, Medal of Honor recipient and a Hiring Our Heroes and Toyota Personal Branding Ambassador; Navy Lt. (Ret.) Brad Snyder, a five-time Paralympic gold medalist with Team USA and a Hiring Our Heroes and Toyota Personal Branding Ambassador.

“As the leader of one nonprofit that has benefited tremendously from your generosity, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart for your passion, commitment, and dedication to our service members and their families. It’s making an incredible difference,” said Hiring Our Heroes President and U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President Eric Eversole.

Howard and Sheri Kersch Schultz said they were humbled to be recognized by Hiring Our Heroes.

“We are fortunate to be a part of your community,” said Howard Schultz. “We’re grateful for this honor and we will continue to do all we can to support the men and women in uniform.”

Watch the tribute to Howard and Sheri Schultz here.

USAA Chief Brand Officer Tony Wells, a graduate of the United State Naval Academy who served as a Marine Corps infantry officer, provided special remarks during the gala about the value that veterans and military spouses bring to an organization. USAA has had a longstanding commitment to veteran and military spouse hiring, and has been collaborating with Hiring Our Heroes since 2011.

“As a company with a mission to facilitate the financial security of the military community, we feel that it’s our responsibility to pave the path for transitioning veterans and military spouses – not just at USAA, but across corporate America,” Wells said.

Wells mentioned the unemployment rates of both veterans and military spouses and how the COVID-19 pandemic may have influenced unemployment in these populations. He also detailed  USAA’s efforts to help military families in 2020 and explained why supporting a diverse talent pool that includes veterans is a one way to support America’s military families.

“I’m grateful that so many of us are taking on this challenge together,” Wells said.

Accomplishment Through Collaboration

Since 2011, Hiring Our Heroes has recognized the tremendous contributions of those who have gone above and beyond to help our nation’s heroes at the Lee Anderson Hiring Our Heroes Awards Gala.

The Lee Anderson Veteran and Military Spouse Employment Award was presented to Amazon.com, which saw record growth in 2020. Amazon is a Hiring Our Heroes Corporate Fellowship Program host company and has committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and military spouses.

The Colonel Michael Endres Leadership Award for Individual Excellence in Veteran Employment Award was presented to Jim Beamesderfer, Vice President of Veterans Initiatives at Prudential Financial. During his acceptance speech, Beamesderfer recognized his team and thanked Prudential for supporting his hiring goals.

“(This award) is not anything that I did personally. It’s about we – what we can accomplish together through collaboration and we will carry on with the work that is yet to be done,” Beamesderfer said.

Jerry and Tracy Flanagan, co-owners of JDog Brands, accepted the Capital One Small Business Award. Army veteran Jerry Flanagan and his wife Tracy founded JDog in 2011. Now, the company has more than 200 franchises nationwide.

“At JDog, we do what we do every day not receive glory or to win awards. It’s because we are passionate about our military veterans and military family members and giving them an opportunity to be business owners,” said Tracy Flanagan. “Receiving this award is not only a blessing, but it’s also a way to continue to reach our military veterans and military families, letting them know that there is a place for them at JDog.”

A complete list of awards winners and finalists is available here.

Renewing Hiring Our Heroes’ Commitment to Serving Our Military

U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Donohue reviewed the successful strategies spearheaded by Hiring Our Heroes between its start in 2011 and 2020. Donohue also explained how Hiring Our Heroes adjusted its mission amid recent challenges. When in-person events had to be canceled, Hiring Our Heroes hosted virtual programs and expanded training opportunities.

“Next year, in my view, we will top all of these accomplishments as we continue to innovate and help world-class military talent as they search for and find meaningful careers,” Donohue said

He praised Hiring Our Heroes, saying the nonprofit “provides a blueprint for companies that want to hire military talent.”

“What has been done over the last 10 years is an absolutely extraordinary accomplishment for thousands and thousands of military retirees and spouses and for this country and for lots of companies throughout this country that desperately need this talent. Keep up the good work. Let’s do another good 10 years,” he said.

You can watch the 2020 Lee Anderson Hiring Our Heroes Awards Gala on the Hiring Our Heroes YouTube channel.

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A Program of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation