Of the nearly 900,000 people who live in Duval County, about one in every four residents has a direct link to the military. They're either active duty, retired, or have a family member who served.
Mayor Alvin Brown has vowed to make Jacksonville one of the most military-friendly cities in the nation. On Tuesday, he thanked local companies who are helping to make that a reality.
Brown recognized many local companies that gathered at Jacksonville University's Davis College of Business for their support of Jacksonville veterans transitioning active duty military in the Jobs for Vets program.
"It's good for business here in Jacksonville because veterans bring a lot to the table," said Michael Flemming, managing director of Deutsche Bank in Jacksonville. "They bring discipline, they bring experience, they bring a lot of traits that companies want."
Duval County has the largest concentration of veterans in the state of Florida, so with three large Navy bases in the area, it's clear the military members don't just live here while they're active. Many of them choose to make northeast Florida their home after they serve, something Victor Guillory, the director of military affairs for Jacksonville, says the city takes pride in.
"We like to think in Jacksonville that we appreciate our military and veterans community’s 365 days a year." Guillory said. "They certainly serve us protect our freedom every day of the year, so Mayor Brown has made it a commitment that we do more than just the recognizable events, the Veterans Days, Memorial Day events."
In total, Brown recognized 140 companies Tuesday morning for partnering with the city in the Jobs for Vets program.
"We have invited 140-plus some companies that have signed on to the city of Jacksonville and Jacksonville military veterans coalition website that is focused on connecting job-seeking vets with job-friendly and veteran-friendly companies from northeast Florida," Brown said.
Just one year ago, the online portal meant to connect veterans with jobs had only one company on the website. Now, it gets more than 20,000 hits a month, something Eric Wangerin, who served almost 19 and a half years in the Army, says is very helpful.
"They need a lot of coaching. It’s easy to forget you’ve got sergeant majors or senior officers that come off active duty that are used to commanding thousands of troops and they’re getting jobs as bus drivers and it’s hard to understand why," said Wangerin, whose nonprofit company is Association of U.S. Military Veterans.
To learn more about Jobs For Vets, visit www.coj.net/JobsForVets.