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Witness Testimony of Stacy Litchfield, Regional Manager, Talent Acquisition and Performance Consulting, Deere & Company, Inc., Moline, IL

Congressman Braley and distinguished Members of the Committee, my name is Stacy Litchfield. I am the United States Regional Manager, Talent Acquisition for Deere & Company. On behalf of John Deere, thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony today on this important topic. 

John Deere is a worldwide leader in providing advanced products and services for agriculture, forestry, construction, turf care, landscaping and irrigation. We’re a leading manufacturer of off-highway diesel engines and one of the largest equipment finance companies in the United States. We have operations in 30 U.S. states.

Attracting Veterans at John Deere

As an employer, we focus on attracting, developing and retaining the best global talent from all backgrounds. At times our recruiting efforts focus on access and visibility to specific groups. One is veterans. We identify organizations that provide the broadest reach and help our staffing team leverage various military recruiting initiatives and related events.

John Deere staffing participates in several recruiting events targeting veterans, including career fairs, conferences and virtual career fairs.

We also work directly with the military when appropriate. We’ve participated in the Army Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) Program since its inception. Young men and women can enter the service knowing that they will receive specialized training and develop skills that are in demand in the private and public sectors, and Deere gets access to a pool of skilled candidates.

John Deere is also active in a variety of outreach programs and job boards that help us connect with veterans who offer a broad array of skills and experience. We also work with military staffing organizations to recruit veterans. For example, the Army Partnership Program, a job posting and resume database, has provided us with candidates for both mid-career and wage positions.

Along with employing veterans, we support programs that help veterans start businesses and become suppliers to companies like ours. Our suppliers include about 200 veteran-owned businesses, and about 50 businesses owned by service-disabled veterans.

Developing and Retaining Veterans at John Deere

At John Deere, we recognize that engaged employees working together create a competitive advantage. We cultivate an environment of inclusive teamwork through programs such as our employee networks. One of these resource groups is composed of employees who have a connection to the U.S. military. The group brings employees together to build relationships, provide support and sponsor military outreach activities. 

Deere also has military leave of absence provisions for reservists and guardsmen who are called up for active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. To help ease the financial hardship endured by these soldiers and their families, Deere voluntarily provides up to two years of differential pay where applicable along with health benefits, life insurance, and other benefits. The impact on retention has been significant.  Since 2001, more than 200 Deere employees have been deployed.  Over 96 percent of those soldiers still work for John Deere. 

Decreasing Unemployment among Veterans

Even though veterans are purposely included in our recruiting, development and retention efforts, we face challenges in effectively bringing them into our organization.

First, with the variety of organizations and job boards available, it’s difficult to determine the best way to connect with job candidates from the military workforce. 

Our recommendation would be a central data source that offers links to standardized job, industry, and geographic classification codes to other reported federal labor, employment, economic and census data. This would help improve results for job posting visibility among the right candidates. 

Additionally, many veterans are challenged to translate their education and skills to fit requirements for non-military positions. Transitioning military may also be at a disadvantage without accreditation or certification required by some professions. 

To remedy this, all levels of government could implement solutions that effectively balance current challenges with educational system gaps, the accreditation of job seekers, and the fiscal demands and resources of employers.

In closing, I want to highlight again the importance, priority and demonstrated focus John Deere places on hiring, outreach, skill development and training of veterans.

Thank you again for the opportunity to share our views on improving employment opportunities for veterans.  I will be happy to respond to any questions.