Best for Vets: Employers 2019 rankings

Now is an excellent time to be a veteran looking for a civilian job.

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Unemployment rates are at historic lows, numerous groups are offering job search and training help to vets, and many of the country's biggest companies have rolled out major vet hiring programs.

At this point, there are so many options that it may seem overwhelming. If that’s how you’re feeling, the Best for Vets: Employers rankings are a good place to start.

Nearly 200 employers across the country — more than have ever participated before — competed for a spot in this year’s rankings, providing in-depth data on their culture, recruiting, policies and resources related to veterans, service members and military families.

We carefully analyzed their responses. Here’s who came out on top.

Companies

1. First Data Corp.

First Data has a team of eight recruiters dedicated either entirely or almost entirely to finding veterans and service members to work at the company. Company representatives also attended 74 veteran job fairs over the course of the last year. Thanks to these large-scale vet recruiting efforts, as well as numerous other factors, First Data retains its spot atop our Best for Vets: Employers rankings. “Through a company-wide military engagement strategy called First Data Salutes, we provide the military community with career opportunities, best-in-class education resources, and premier business solutions for veteran-owned businesses,” the company wrote in its survey response.

2. Southern Company

This power company has many positions that align with military occupational specialties, including power system operators, information technology workers, even air traffic controllers. And if you’ve received military training in these fields, Southern Company will accept that training and let you get right to work, rather than forcing you to get additional, civilian credentials. The company also makes special efforts to recruit, support and train job candidates who are disabled veterans.

3. Comcast NBCUniversal

One of the largest companies included in this year’s rankings, Comcast hired nearly 2,700 veterans and service members in 2018. But the company’s vet-related efforts don’t end with recruiting. Comcast also has an 11-person team working to support the company’s military-connected employees. In addition, the company spent nearly $160 million at veteran-owned vendors and suppliers in the past year – about 5 percent of Comcast’s vendor budget.

4. Intuitive Research and Technology Corp.

Intuitive is one of the smallest companies in our rankings – but it has one of the biggest relative vet employee populations, with vets accounting for 30 percent of the workforce. The company dedicates 35 percent of its recruiting budget specifically to veteran recruiting. “Founded by two former Army civilian managers, Intuitive was built on a foundation of ethical principles and values that still radiate throughout the company today,” the company’s survey response said.

5. USAA

While every company on this list is focused on hiring veterans and military family members, USAA is one of just a few groups whose customer base is also veterans and military families. The banking and insurance powerhouse has veterans in the positions of chief executive officer, chief of operations and president of USAA Federal Savings Bank. USAA also offers its reservist employees their full civilian pay, on top of their military pay, for 12 months when employees must leave work for military commitments.

Government and nonprofit organizations

1. Harris County Sheriff’s Office

This sheriff’s office, based in Houston’s Harris County, gives its veteran applicants a significant hiring preference over nonveterans. Additionally, when calculating retirement benefits, the office will credit veterans with up to five additional years of employment, based on their time serving in the military. The sheriff’s office views law enforcement as a natural extension of military service: “We want to put the troops back in the fight, making them mission capable to now serve their local communities.”

2. The Exchange (AAFES)

Familiar to nearly every service member as the ubiquitous on-base (and online) place to buy consumer goods, electronics and other essentials – including your favorite Military Times newspapers – The Exchange is a natural fit for military-connected employees. Military spouses accounted for three in 10 of the company’s 2018 hires and about 18 percent of the company’s total employee population. Representatives of The Exchange attended a whopping 695 veteran job fairs in the last year.

3. Orange County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office

Members of the National Guard and reserves whose military obligations force them to miss time working for this Florida law enforcement organization can count on receiving the full difference between their military pay and their sheriff’s office pay, for an unlimited period of time. What’s more, they receive these benefits even if they volunteered for active duty service. In addition, training with the office can be covered by the GI Bill.