In 1941, Robert W. Woodruff pledged to place Coca-Cola within arm’s reach of desire wherever U.S. troops were stationed around the world. This was the origin of the company’s longstanding support of the nation’s armed services.

Today, one of the primary ways the company showcases this enduring commitment to veterans is through recruiting. In the last 12 months alone, Coca-Cola has employed more than 1,000 veterans across the company. This is part of a recruitment initiative that began after hiring more than 800 veterans in 2012.

“The company established a mission to hire 5,000 veterans over the next five years, through the end of 2017,” Brooke Camp, program manager, Strategic Recruitment Programs and Partnerships, Talent Acquisition.

The company hit its hiring goal last month – more than a year ahead of schedule.

During Coca-Cola’s 17th annual Veterans Day Ceremony, Sandy Douglas (right), president of Coca-Cola North America, presents Dr. J.D. Crouch II, president and CEO, United Service Organization (USO), with a $75,000 donation alongside Mary Lou Austin, president and CEO, USO of Georgia. The event also featured remarks from General Lloyd J, Austin, III, the 33rd Vice Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and 12th Commanding General of U.S. Central Command, and a performance by the USO Show Troupe.

Amy Sparks

Thanks to this commitment, Coca-Cola has been recognized by U.S. Veterans Magazine as a 2016 Top Veteran-Friendly Company. Additionally, Victory Media has awarded the company the designation of Military Friendly Employer, and the company was highlighted as a featured employer in the fall issue of G.I. Jobs Magazine.

“We take great honor to be nationally recognized as one of America's top corporate supporters of veterans and military families,” said Michael Farrell, director of Talent Acquisition, Strategic Programs and Partnerships, Military, Campus and Diversity Recruitment. “Veterans consider company recognition when establishing where they want to start a civilian career or make their next job move.  It enhances our employment and even our consumer brand experience very well.”

According to Camp, hiring veterans is a no-brainer, especially in the areas of supply chain and distribution. Many vets bring transferable logistics skills that enable quick training, and they are also accustomed to 24/7 work environments.

“Our military hires bring with them a wealth of uniquely rich qualities, including discipline, diversity, character and the ability to perform under pressure, all of which have made our company stronger,” said Camp. “The Coca-Cola Company has a huge commitment to diversity and inclusion and employing talent from all backgrounds and walks of life. It takes strong leadership, teamwork and dedication to serve in our armed forces, and we value the skills, leadership and capabilities that veterans bring to the table.”

'Our military hires bring with them a wealth of uniquely rich qualities, including discipline, diversity, character and the ability to perform under pressure, all of which have made our company stronger. It takes strong leadership, teamwork and dedication to serve in our armed forces, and we value the skills, leadership and capabilities that veterans bring to the table.'

Coca-Cola recruits transitioning veterans on a regular basis, both nationwide and locally, through career fairs and transition assistance workshops in partnership with organizations including Service Academy Conference Center (SACC), Military Spouse Employment Partnership (MSEP), Military Officer Job Opportunities (MOJO) and Fort Hood’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP).

The company also leverages online recruiting tools to build visibility, awareness and promote the company’s open positions through resources like Hire Purpose, Getting Hired (for veterans with disabilities), and Military.com veteran talent portals. Additionally, Coca-Cola partners with Army PaYS, a program that helps pipeline and engage with veterans for employment after honorable discharge or completion of required active duty training, and with the Training with Industry program.

Coca-Cola’s Military Veterans Business Resource Group (MVBRG) is active with veterans in the community, too, partnering with nonprofit veterans’ organizations, including FourBlock and American Corporate Partners, to offer assistance to transitioning and unemployed veterans.

Furthermore, Patrick Haddock, president of the MVBRG, was one of VETLANTA’s originators and Coca-Cola was a founding partner. VETLANTA is a grass roots networking group that fosters the communication and collaboration of employers, veterans, and military nonprofits in the Atlanta area.