As our servicemen and women come home from serving in the Middle East and Afghanistan, many veterans face difficulties starting new careers. Increasingly, financial services institutions are helping returned service personnel, including those with disabilities, by providing access to the necessary training, certification, or familiarity with how to start employment in a new industry.

One group, The Wall Street Warfighters Foundation, based in Philadelphia, recognizes the opportunities for veterans in the financial services industry.

Founded in 2008, the program identifies, develops and places disabled veterans in financial services careers. It provides a six-month training program of class work, field work, exam preparation and testing, mentorships and internships that introduce veterans to the industry’s broader aspects. The program started small, and stayed small through the economic downturn. To date, 36 students have completed the program, and approximately 20 companies have participated in placements.

Wall Street Warfighters mentor, Financial Services Institute Chief Operating Officer and veteran, Keith Kelly says the program is valuable.

“These young men and women have sacrificed immensely – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually – and their families have as well. There’s a noble purpose to what we do. We love people, we love helping people, and there’s no better group of people to help right now than our soldiers, who are protecting us every day.”
Kelly says the program works to show that the Foundation’s veteran participants have unique and valuable experiences to offer financial firms all over the country.

“We’re looking for good people,” Kelly said. “I don’t want our industry to overlook the years of service that an individual has given to their country. The responsibilities that these men and women bore at a very young age, from operating military equipment paid for by tax payers worth millions of dollars, to the shared responsibility for the lives of their fellow soldiers, gives them a level of maturity and level of training someone not in the military might not understand.”

The program’s success is growing. In August, the foundation will commence its largest class yet with at least 14 students.

Other recent efforts to recruit veterans into the financial industry workforce include:

• In 2011, G.I. Jobs magazine named State Farm a Top 100 Military Friendly Employer, and Military Times Edge magazine awarded it with a bronze rating for its recruitment, training, support and employment of veterans, as well as policies for employees in the Reserves. State Farm also donated $111,000 last year in scholarship funds for military children, and partnered with Habitat for Humanity to ensure new homes are equipped for disabled veterans.

• Citigroup plans to hire more than 1,000 veterans this year, as part of a firm-wide and nationwide initiative to find employment for those returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Citi hired 686 veterans last year for its North America business lines and brought on another 300 in the first two months of 2012.

• U.S. Bank plans to double its military hiring this year after hiring 200 veterans and members of the Guard and Reserve. The Minneapolis bank, which employs almost 1,700 veterans and members of the Guard and Reserve, created a military-specific recruiting website,, that assists service members with identifying areas at U.S. Bank where their skills and interests might be a match.