Thanks to a $483,000 grant from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Burton Blatt Institute (BBI) at Syracuse University, in partnership with veteran-owned business Corporate Gray, will conduct substantial research to improve the hiring and retention of veterans by businesses nationwide.

In consultation with VA staff, the BBI and Corporate Gray research team will design, conduct, and report on findings from a survey of at least 100 employers nationwide that analyzes current policies, practices, and program experiences with hiring and retaining veterans. The study will examine employers' understanding of the mental health and related needs of veterans and the services that would support maintaining productivity in the face of these needs.

The VA grant will also allow BBI and Corporate Gray to investigate and report about more intensive case studies, with large employers, that analyzes the health and mental health as well as the use of health and mental health services of veteran employees. In addition, BBI and Corporate Gray will examine current materials supporting employees and develop new materials and resources based on identified gaps and needs. The materials will be used by businesses to support the hiring and retention of veterans.

Michael Morris, BBI executive director, notes the importance of this new partnership. "Corporate Gray's extensive contacts into the veteran employer community are critical to the success of this research. They provide an entry point to many small and large employers who have demonstrated commitment to hiring," says Morris. "BBI brings to the table our extensive portfolio of research on employment with large and small employers, and the methods to understand clearly what works and why in any setting. We look forward to the partnership."

BBI is a nationally recognized expert in the study of corporate culture and business practices that advance the recruiting, hiring, accommodating, retaining, and advancing of workers with disabilities, including veterans. The project with Corporate Gray marks BBI's fifth grant or contract related directly to veterans and veterans with disabilities, and the first which combines BBI's expertise in diversity, disability, corporate culture, and employment practices with a focus on employment of veterans.

BBI has twice been granted funding from the Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust and from the William Bingham Foundation to provide curricula targeted to the disability components of the Whitman School at SU's Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV). In addition, BBI currently has funding from the Department of Labor Veterans Employment and Training Service to operate the National Veterans Technical Assistance Center, which focuses on employment and homelessness.

This new funding awarded to BBI from the VA builds on Syracuse University's focus on veterans and their families. It also provides an opportunity for BBI and SU's recently announced Institute for Veterans and Military Families to collaborate on study of practices related to employing veterans with and without disabilities. Case studies may include veteran-owned and veteran family-owned businesses that employ veterans, and whose owners have attended the EBV and EBV-Families programs, or the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship conference trainings.

"This project will identify practices that corporate America already employs related to veterans," says Mike Haynie, director of the newly-created institute. "We hope to contribute to this effort through our partnerships with major corporations, and to take lessons learned and share with our veterans and their families as they seek employment or start their own businesses. This expansion of our partnership with BBI bodes well for leveraging work at Syracuse University to benefit our stakeholders."

US Business Leadership Network a network of more than 5,000 employers nationwide who share a common commitment to an inclusive workforce also will collaborate with the BBI-Corporate Gray team.

Source: Burton Blatt Institute at Syracuse University

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