For Midtown-headquartered Coca-Cola, Veterans Day this year is just a bit more special. In May, Coca-Cola Refreshments made a pledge to offer at least 800 job and career opportunities to military veterans in 2012. As of this week, that commitment has been surpassed, with 807 new members joining the Coca-Cola team from our armed services.
Every year Coca-Cola associates pause to honor the veterans and members of the U.S. military who sacrifice to serve their country and protect our freedoms. As part of this year’s Veterans Day celebration, employees were joined by U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis on Thursday, who shared her thoughts about the importance of supporting the U.S. Armed Forces.
"President Obama laid down a challenge for American companies to put our veterans back to work, and Coca-Cola has answered that call. Company officials announced in May they would bring 800 veterans onboard, and six months later, they've already exceeded their goal,” said Solis in a news release. “Talk about the 'Real Thing;’ when it comes to veterans hiring, Coca-Cola is true to its brand."
Coca-Cola has supported military service members and veterans since the 1940s. Today the Company employs more than 5,500 veterans in the U.S., working in a variety of roles across all 50 states.
“The Coca-Cola Company has a proud history of standing behind America’s men and women in uniform, which dates back more than 70 years,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company Muhtar Kent said in the release. “We continue that tradition today by partnering with organizations like the USO, bringing veterans into the Coca-Cola workforce and refreshing the members of the extended U.S. military family millions of times around the world each day.”
“People are the foundation of Coca-Cola and they have always been one of our most valuable assets,” President and Chief Executive Officer, Coca-Cola Refreshments Steve Cahillane said in the release. “Veterans have distinct skillsets and a commitment to doing the job right, which is why we’re expanding their ranks at Coca-Cola. With more than 800 former members of the U.S. military joining our team, we’re strengthened by individuals who know how to lead, how to collaborate and how to perform under pressure.” Page 2 of 3
The announcement of exceeding the 2012 veterans hiring goal caps several days of honoring military heroes at Coca-Cola. On Thursday, the Company hosted its 13th annual Veterans Day ceremony, which included special remarks from the Secretary of Labor, who joined Cahillane in recognizing the Company’s rich heritage with veterans and the military. The event also featured a keynote address from Michele Jones, Director of External Veterans/Military Affairs and Community Outreach for the President's Veterans Employment Initiative. To close the event, attendees were treated to a rousing performance by national recording artist, Mark Wills.
On Wednesday, hundreds of Coca-Cola associates helped support active-duty military members with a USO Care Package “stuffing party.” Atlanta-area employees pitched in to fill more than 10,000 packages with items such as batteries, Odwalla bars, phone cards, toothpaste and personal letters of thanks from Coca-Cola associates. These parcels will be distributed to service men and women to offer them a touch of home and a bit of comfort and convenience as they serve their country.
Addressing employees at the event, Kent said, “With each package you assemble, you’re telling a soldier you care and that you remember and honor his or her service and sacrifice. And that’s a very worthy and honorable thing.”
Reaching the milestone of hiring 800 veterans is not the end of the recruitment effort at Coca-Cola. The U.S. military provides a qualified pipeline of talented individuals who offer a wide variety of abilities, diversity of perspective and ingrained leadership and drive. Moving forward, the Company will ramp up comprehensive programs to recruit, develop and retain our nation's heroes to help build our business.
Coca-Cola began its support of U.S. military troops in 1941 during World War II when former Company President Robert Woodruff committed “to see that every man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca-Cola for five cents, wherever he is and whatever it costs the Company.” That same decade, the Company began a more than 70-year partnership with the USO. Today, the Coca-Cola system provides more than 2.5 million beverage servings per day to active-duty members of the armed forces, reservists, retirees and their families. In addition, throughout the year, many marketing programs pay tribute to and reward veterans for their service.
“Veterans Day provides the opportunity to honor our coworkers who have served, or are currently serving in the military, and to remember the families who await the safe return of their loved ones serving on active duty,” continued Cahillane. “Every day we offer refreshment to members of our armed forces. So, whether they’re stationed in the U.S. or abroad, they can enjoy a little bit of home, and happiness.”
Specific information about career opportunities for military veterans can be found at www.enjoycareers.com/military.
- The Coca-Cola Company contributed to this story