Saratoga County

McDonald’s serving up jobs for vets (with video)

Soldiers returning from deployment to the Capital Region may want to enlist for one more mission, wi

Soldiers returning from deployment to the Capital Region may want to enlist for one more mission, with Thursday’s announcement in Saratoga Springs of the jobs program “Operation Grateful Citizens.”

Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook, and owners from the 70 McDonald’s restaurants in the Capital Region came together at the New York State Military Museum to unveil a coordinated effort aimed at providing employment opportunities for veterans and families of deployed soldiers. Interested people would be able to pursue a variety of positions with McDonald’s, starting from part-time, entry-level jobs and progressing up to general managers in service, production and maintenance areas.

“Many of our veterans finish their time in uniform and have made very successful transition. [They’re] now moving to the top tier of management in private sector, finishing degrees … [and] adjusting to community life. But that’s not the case in all circumstances,” Gibson said. “There are some veterans who are falling through the cracks.”

This program is designed to not only collect those people who might fall through the cracks, but also to serve as a competitive career path for people leaving the service and unsure about what they want to do. Jobs will have flexibility in hours and responsibilities, with some employees eligible for benefit packages that include vacation time and health insurance.

“There is flexibility in the program, in terms of matching what the interests are of the particular veteran. If the veteran is interested in aggressively pursuing management, there is [a] human capital program,” Gibson said.

Clark Brink, the owner of five McDonald’s restaurants in the Capital Region, noted that the opportunities at each restaurant are whatever the applicants are striving for. He added that the hiring of veterans will also help the restaurants, which are gaining “mentors.”

“The world experiences that they bring back with them … is a win-win,” Brink said.

The idea for the partnership came about during McDonald’s national hiring day in April, when Gibson’s office tried to find a job for a returning veteran. Capital Region store owner Roger Grout said that call woke them up to a possible collaboration they weren’t seizing on.

“This is just a perfect fit,” he said.

Joe Sluszka, director of the Albany Housing Coalition, argued that this program could play an important role in the Capital Region, where there are more than 1,000 homeless veterans on any given night. He characterized the chances for advancement offered by McDonald’s career paths and training programs as a simple repayment of the opportunities veterans might have missed while they were abroad.

“Without community [outreach], our returning veterans are going to have a more difficult time,” Sluszka said. “We owe that for the service they provided to us.”

Expanding on that thought, Gibson said McDonald’s program was a good first step.

“We know this is a good two- or three-yard gain, and that’s how you get first downs,” he said, using a football analogy. “But there is more to be done. This is a campaign to be waged.”

Gibson also stressed that working for McDonald’s is not a trivial task for former soldiers. “Every job is meaningful employment,” he said.

Each McDonald’s restaurant in the Capital Region will have an Operation Grateful Citizen contact person, and veterans or families of deployed soldiers looking to apply for positions online should use the “Hiring to Win” process at

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