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White House Commends Franchise Industry for Commitment to Veterans

IFA Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira, CFE, accepts kudos from President Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden for association’s veterans’ and military spouses’ hiring initiative.

As part of the franchise industry’s support of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative, International Franchise Association Pres. & CEO Steve Caldeira, CFE, joined President Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden onstage at the White House on April 30, 2013 to mark the hiring or training of 290,000 veterans and military spouses since the launch of the initiative in 2011.  Franchising contributed almost a quarter of this total.  Caldeira was accompanied by Planet Smoothie/Tasti D-Lite Chairman, IFA Hall of Fame winner and 2001 IFA Chairman Jim Amos Jr., CFE, and IFA Coordinator, Research and  Strategic Initiatives Kevin Blanchard, both Marine veterans.

The First Lady and Dr. Biden noted that with the Iraq war over and the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close, more than one million service members are projected to leave the military in the next several years and transition to civilian life. And that’s in addition to the hundreds of thousands of veterans and military spouses already looking for work.

Hiring our veterans and military spouses will not only help them manage this transition, but shows them that our nation truly honors their service, not simply with words, but with real action that will profoundly impact their lives long after they leave the military.

The announcement reflects growing momentum within the private sector to hire and train veterans and military spouses.  The First Lady applauded the work IFA has done to help veterans find jobs and transition back into civilian life, commenting, “the IFA has helped more than 4,300 veterans own their own businesses since 2011.”

The franchise industry, led by IFA and 580 franchise businesses that are participants in IFA’s VetFran strategic initiative, were among the first private-sector commitments to the White House Joining Forces initiative on Veterans Day 2011. IFA members pledged to hire and recruit 80,000 veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors through 2014 as team members and franchise small-business owners. In the first year, nearly 65,000 veterans started careers in franchising, including 4,314 as franchise business owners who used financial discounts off the initial franchise fee offered by VetFran member companies.

The franchise industry has a long-standing history of supporting veterans. In 1991, IFA launched VetFran, a strategic initiative to help Gulf War veterans access business ownership opportunities in franchising. In 2011, Operation Enduring Opportunity was established to expand that initiative to include employment.

“With the war in Iraq over and the war in Afghanistan drawing to a close and more than one million service members projected to leave the military in the next several years, franchise businesses have realized that hiring our veterans, military spouses and wounded warriors is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense,” said Caldeira. “With its rapid training opportunities, scalability, and need for operational execution and excellence in following proven systems, franchising provides an ideal structure to enable returning veterans to become leaders of and productive participants in the U.S. economy.”

Josh Merin is senior manager of research and strategic initiatives for the International Franchise Association.  He can be reached at 202-662-0762 or jmerin@franchise.org.

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