Steve Buchanan is a 1999 West Point grad who served as a U.S. Army infantry officer, completing tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Chris Sheppard spent eight years in the Marine Corps as an engineering officer, serving two combat tours in Iraq.
The two military veterans met at the University of Washington, and started kicking around an idea on how to make it easier for their ex-military buddies to find work. As a result, ChooseVets was born.
The 18-month-old company today is announcing that its online marketplace for connecting veterans to service jobs — anything from house painting to lawn maintenance — is launching in five markets: Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Oahu, Seattle and Washington D.C.
The concept behind ChooseVets is relatively simple. Veterans who are looking for work sign up on ChooseVets, listing specific skills and their geographic location.
Those looking to hire veterans also create profiles, showcasing the type of work they need.
ChooseVets, which competed in last year’s business plan competition at the University of Washington, then serves as a matchmaker.
“Patriotism isn’t measured by what you say, wear, or feel, it’s measured by actions – what you do,” said Sheppard, who serves as CFO. “The best way to thank our veterans is through actions rather than words.”
The company is attacking a big market, since there are now 21 million veterans in the U.S. with between 200,000 and 250,000 entering the civilian work force each year.
Buchanan, who grew up in Tacoma and previously started a moving company that hired veterans, was a special guest at President Barack Obama’s state of the union address earlier this year, attending with Democratic Rep. Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor.
The goal of that visit was to shed light on veteran’s issues, including the importance of easing vets back into the workforce.
Here’s more on how ChooseVets works: