Hershey Welcomes Returning Veterans to Employment Ranks

Confectionery company continues longstanding commitment to U.S. troops

HERSHEY, Pa. -- As troops arrive home, veterans are facing a higher unemployment rate than the general population. The growing need for veterans to successfully transition back into civilian life has inspired The Hershey Co. to launch a Veteran's Business Resource Group (BRG) to expand its longstanding outreach to veterans and veteran organizations.

The new Veteran's BRG will serve to support veterans within the company and those seeking work through a number of initiatives, including:

  • Educating employees on the skills and experience that veterans bring and sharing examples of Hershey's support of the military within the company and in the communities where Hershey employees work.
  • Reaching out to veterans groups to support the company's veteran hiring mission.
  • Offering support to veterans transitioning to the civilian workforce.
  • Promoting communication and collaboration among veterans within the company.

The Veteran's Business Resource Group will also create formal mentorship programs for newly hired veterans by matching them with other veterans who have successfully transitioned to work at Hershey.

These efforts complement the company's existing Military Talent Program, which it launched in late 2011. The program works to recruit and hire returning veterans to support a growing business. As part of these efforts, the company also plans to hold job fairs and related programs for veterans during the next several years.

"We have great opportunities for returning troops across our U.S. operations," said Terry O'Day, senior vice president of global operations for Hershey. O'Day is a veteran and graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and also serves as the executive sponsor of the company's Veteran's BRG. "Veterans are known for their leadership, commitment and technical skills, an ideal combination for our manufacturing network," he said.

Consistent with its historic values and commitment to corporate social responsibility, the company has employed hundreds of veterans over the years and many have gone on to become leaders in the company. There are currently more than 500 veterans in Hershey's workforce. In 2011, Hershey increased the number of veterans hired by more than 50% compared with 2010.

"Veterans--with their distinguished backgrounds in highly complex situations, working with high-tech equipment and their ability to manage people and processes--will bring tremendous value to a range of available positions at Hershey," said Kevin Walling, senior vice president and chief human resources officer at Hershey. "Seeking skilled veterans is the right thing to do for those who have served their country and offers a great source of talent for our company."

Hershey's support of the U.S. military dates back to World War I, when Hershey provided milk chocolate bars to American soldiers. During World War II, Hershey developed the "Field Ration D" bar specifically for troops serving overseas. More than 24 million Ration D bars were produced every week by the end of 1945. Hershey also played a small role in the Berlin Airlift of 1948, when 1st Lt. Gail Halvorsen, the "Chocolate Flier," dropped Hershey's chocolate bars to children from a C-54 bomber plane.

Today, Hershey continues to support U.S. troops serving both domestically and in overseas conflicts. This includes the company's product donation program, in which the company sends a variety of Hershey products to men and women serving in the military. During the past 10 years, Hershey has sent care packages to the troops consisting of more than 4,500 cases of product, with a value of nearly $500,000.

Hershey also provides financial support to military organizations such as the United Services Organization (USO) and supports other military-affiliated organizations such as Wounded Warrior, the Yellow Ribbon Fund and other related programs.

Hershey's new Veteran's BRG joins a number of other groups at the company the allow employees to learn and grow in both the work environment and in the community. Other groups include the African American BRG, the Hispanic BRG, the Women's BRG, the Prism GLBT BRG, the Asian American BRG and the Network of Young Professionals.

Based in Hershey, Pa., and with revenues of more than $6 billion, Hershey offers confectionery products under more than 25 brands, including Hershey's, Reese's, Hershey's Kisses, Hershey's Bliss, Hershey's Special Dark, Kit Kat, Twizzlers, Jolly Rancher and Ice Breakers. Hershey also offers premium and artisan chocolate products under such brands as Scharffen Berger and Dagoba through the Artisan Confections Co., a wholly owned subsidiary.