CHICAGO (CBS) — Paul Jenkins says veterans are twice as likely to be unemployed. For disabled veterans, the national rate is at a staggering 88 percent.
“There remains in America this crisis in veteran unemployment,” Jenkins said.
As founder and CEO of Veteran Beer Company, he hopes to change that.
“So rather than sit around and let others solve the problem for us, why not start our own company and figure out how to employ as many veterans as quickly as possible. So the concept behind the Veteran Beer Company is that we will produce the finest beer in America — brewed by, the recipes written by, bottled by, sold by veterans. Everybody in the organization is to be a veteran,” he said.
Jenkins employs about 15 people now in Minnesota, Zion, and Chicago; but hopes to expand within a year.
“My goal is to hire 100 veterans by a year from now, 500 in three years and 2500 in five years,” said Jenkins.
On November 11, Veterans Day, the company will unveil two new craft beers to the Chicago and Indiana markets.
“For the past 16 months we’ve been perfecting recipes, perfecting labeling, all done by veterans. All the concepts, all the color schemes, the ingredients, the Hopps, the maults, the coloration of the beer is being done by veterans.”
Jenkins retired from the Navy in 1995. He says his company and its concept hopes to change the way veterans live and work.
“I’m a disabled veteran myself. We have a number of disabled veterans. I think each of us views the problem of veteran and disabled veteran unemployment at a very personal level. We recognize as there is a single veteran who can’t find a job, we are in affect, leaving someone behind, so we have a vehicle. I want people to know where their next job us. As we grow, we’ll be growing with veterans being hired from all walks of life.”
His employees are serving as brand ambassadors for the beer.
“Some of our sales ambassadors are missing limbs. Some have just have these tremendous life experiences. They are there representing themselves. Veterans are there to talk about their own experiences to serve as a bridge between those who’ve served and those who want to know about those who’ve served and the fact that we’re doing it by selling the best beer in America is a great benefit to the conversation.”
The Veteran Beer Company will go to market in November with two products, The Amber Lager and the Blonde Bomber Blonde Ale. The beer can be found at all of Chicago’s 29 Binny’s, Treasure Island and other Chicagoland area stores.