Since its inception in 2016, HKY4VETS (Hickory4Vets), a public-private partnership of companies, government agencies, nonprofits and veterans, has worked to build a sustainable model for our community and establish a plan of work based on three overarching priorities: Awareness, Advocacy, and Access. We desire to become one of the most "veteran-ready" communities in the entire country.
One of our early initiatives to put these principles into action have been our “Welcome Home, Hickory Metro” (WHHM) weekends, an event we have been hosting twice annually at no expense to participating veterans and their families that travel to the community. At each of our "Welcome Home" Weekends, we have offered the following for the first 50 veteran & family registrants:
- Pre-matched job interviews for vets & spouses with a wide variety of Hickory Metro companies
- Local hotel accommodations, a $50 gas card, all local transport and all meals
- Local excursions and other fun to introduce them to what it’s like to live and raise a family here
- Opportunity to meet and learn about great nonprofits, schools, and other local resources they might want to engage with to ease their transition and help establish new phase of life
Over the last year, we have hosted 79 veterans and military families through our WHHM weekends. From over 200 initial interviews with Catawba County employers, there have been more than 60 follow-up interviews, 10 job offers and 7 veterans/families that have since relocated and started employment with a local company. Consensus feedback from participants to date (September 2017; April 2018; October 2018)) has been overwhelmingly positive.
We are in the process of evolving our efforts and have recently approved our 2019 Strategic Objectives, but we believe these same principles that helped bring the Welcome Home Weekends to life will continue to serve as a strong foundation moving forward:
- Awareness: Creating opportunities to educate local employers on the value of this talented population, as well as the cultural differences between the military and civilian sector to aid their recruitment and retention efforts.
- Advocacy: Build a community that is inclusive and “ready” to assist this under-resourced population.
- Access: Serve as the bridge to connect local employers with transitioning military talent, as well as, transition support/veteran support organizations, to fill their vacant positions.
We appreciate your interest in these efforts and invite you to contact us anytime.