Hire Our Heros

Mary O'Keefe from The Principal is presented with the Seven Seals Award for her leadership in support of members of the Iowa Guard and Reserve. Shown here, left to right: Gunnery Sergeant Kent Urey (Marines), Lieutenant Commander Gregory Jenkins (Navy), Brigadier General Derek Hill (Air Guard), O'Keefe, Major General Timothy Orr (Army Guard), Major General Michael Smith (1st Army, U.S. Army Reserves). Photo credit: Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve

Leading the Effort to Hire Our Heroes

One million Reserve and National Guard members serve in the U.S. military. In fact, more than 40 percent of U.S. troops in Iraq came from Army Reserve and Guard units.

These are our hometown heroes—fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, neighbors and friends. They’ve put their lives at risk and their careers on hold to serve our country.

But all too often, members of the military struggle to find a job when they come home. In fact, the unemployment rate among those who just returned from a deployment has been 2.5 times higher than the overall unemployment rate.

Helping to Solve the Problem

To help combat this problem, the Principal Financial Group® took a leadership role, joining forces with other organizations and businesses in Iowa to educate employers on the many benefits of hiring veterans. Mary O’Keefe, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at The Principal®, spearheaded the Hire Our Heroes effort.

“Hiring veterans is the right thing to do,” says O’Keefe. “They deserve our support after the sacrifices they’ve made for our country. It’s also a smart business move. Veterans bring an impressive array of skills, knowledge and values to the table.”

After the initiative was implemented, Major General Timothy Orr of the Iowa National Guard reported that unemployment among veterans returning from deployment decreased from its height of 32 percent to just 6 percent in Iowa. While many programs contributed to this result, Major General Orr credited Hire Our Heroes as a driver.

Honors for The Principal

On May 4, 2013, O’Keefe received the prestigious Seven Seals Award recognizing her leadership in support of members of the Iowa Guard and Reserve.

The Seven Seals Award is the broadest of awards given by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) presented at the state and national levels. The award honors significant individual or organizational achievement, initiative or support that promotes the ESGR’s mission to facilitate a cooperative culture of employer support for National Guard and Reserve service members.

Also that day, The Principal received the Iowa ESGR’s Above and Beyond Award, recognizing American employers that provide extraordinary support to and cooperation with their employees who serve in the military.

For its support of the military, The Principal has also received:

  • The 2011 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award for exceptional support of employees serving in the Guard and Reserve
  • The Iowa Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve 2011 Governor’s Award

Members of the military protect us at home — and around the world. As an employer, we’re proud to support veterans and their families.


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