CHESAPEAKE, Va. – Brad Hunt, president of Southern Auto Group in the Tidewater area of Virginia, says employers – including the nation’s new-car and -truck dealerships – should not overlook hiring military veterans to fill vacant job positions.
“Veterans are disciplined. They understand the chain of command. They are mission oriented,” said Hunt, who was wounded while serving in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. “We love to hire veterans. They are just great employees.”
After spending nearly 18 months in the hospital recovering from a serious gunshot wound, Hunt enrolled at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., with financial support from the G.I. Bill. In 1975, he graduated with a degree in marketing and business administration and went to work for a local newspaper in the Tidewater area selling advertising to car dealerships.
About three years later, he made a career change and started selling cars at a local dealership in 1978. Over the next eight years, climbing the ranks in the retail-automobile business, Hunt and a business partner purchased the car dealership from their employer in 1986.
Today, Southern Auto Group has grown to include 10 franchises at nine dealership locations and two collision centers in Chesapeake, Norfolk and Virginia Beach with 500 employees.
Hunt, past chairman of the Virginia Automobile Dealers Association and former president of the Hampton Roads Automobile Dealers Association, says about 100 of his 500 employees are military veterans.
“There are several businesses within a dealership that offer career opportunities in sales, accounting, finance, administration and auto repair and service,” Hunt added. “We’ve got a job for any veteran.”
For businesses like Southern Auto Group, the U.S Department of Labor – through its HIRE Vets Medallion Program – will recognize employers who recruit, retain and employ veterans, and who offer charitable services in support of the veteran community.
“Veterans give an incredible gift to this country, and that giving doesn’t stop when they leave the military. From technical know-how to leadership skills honed on the battlefield, veterans have a wide range of abilities that make them tremendous assets for the American economy and for any employer,” said U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. “The Department of Labor looks forward to shining the spotlight on employers who make hiring veterans a priority and encouraging other employers to hire our nation’s heroes.” For more information, click here.
The Department of Labor established the program under the “Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans Act,” or HIRE Vets Act, which was signed into law in May 2017.
The Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) assists employers find, hire, train and retain qualified veterans, transitioning service members, wounded warriors and military spouses. For more information, click here, or contact Mark Toal, VETS outreach manager, U.S. Department of Labor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202.693.4708.