by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | April 27, 2017
While other hotel companies are rolling out expansion strategies, restructured loyalty programs, business alliances and new marketing campaigns, McLean, Va.-based Hilton said today it is committed to hiring an additional 20,000 veterans, spouses, dependents and caregivers by 2020 as part of its Operation: Opportunity program. 
A lofty goal? Probably not. Hilton's original goal, which it rolled out in August 2013, was to hire 10,000 veterans by 2018. That goal  was met two years ahead of schedule. The ramped-up staffing strategy is certain to resonate across the United States. According to the United States Census Bureau, there were 18.5 million U.S. veterans in 2015. Former veterans now employed by Hilton globally come from a vast background and include navy cooks, army reconnaissance, helicopter mechanics and operations analysts; one was a naval nuclear engineer officer who was assigned to an attack submarine.
Hilton has a long legacy of hiring U.S. veterans. The company's founder, Conrad Hilton, was himself a World War I military veteran, and the company to date has donated 1.2 million Hilton Honors Points to more than 1,100 veterans for stays at more than 1,700 of its properties for personal events, such as job interviews, attending veteran funerals and ceremonies.
"The hospitality industry requires the same skill sets as the military," said Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton, in a company video explaining why Hilton remains committed to hiring veterans. "It's a 24/7 operation that requires a high degree of professionalism and expertise in order to be successful."  
Operation: Opportunity is unique in that it offers flexible work opportunities and promises continuity of employment during long deployments and after location moves. It also has a dedicated Veteran Team Member Resource Group and special recognitions for veterans. In addition, Hilton is partnering with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation to help connect military caregivers with Hilton Reservations and Customer Care jobs that allow them to work remotely. According to the company, to date it has hired more than 1,000 military spouses and dependents, which account for 10 percent of Operation: Opportunity hires.
"Our message to our team members is simple," said Matt Schuyler, Hilton's chief human resources officer, in announcing the new hiring goal. "We value the leadership, integrity, teamwork and other skills you bring to the hospitality industry, and Hilton will do everything it can to support you in making a smooth transition to the civilian workforce."