Two-Time IndyCar Series Championships Increase Commitment to Fight Unemployment Amongst National Guard Members

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 21, 2012) – Panther Racing announced today it has teamed with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the White House on two nationwide initiatives to combat the unemployment issues challenging members of the National Guard and their spouses. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr Jill Biden’s Joining Forces initiative - which mobilizes all sectors of society to support service members and their families - and the U.S. Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative - which helps veterans and their spouses find meaningful employment in the private sector – will combine forces with the team to help raise awareness through PSAs, job fairs, at-track seminars and social media campaigns.

“This is an initiative that all of us in this country need to get behind, and we’re going to do everything in our power to help the tremendous efforts already in place with Hiring Our Heroes and Joining Forces,” Panther Managing Partner John Barnes said. “As Americans, and employers, we need these servicemembers to know we have their back when they get home. Some of the most qualified employees, the best leaders, and our brightest young minds are those who serve in the National Guard. These are men and women who understand pressure, responsibility and selflessness – and in my business those are the best attributes that I look for in a potential employee. We’re thrilled about this new relationship with Hiring Our Heroes and Joining Forces and we’re ready to help raise awareness, and educate, the local community on how they can make a difference and reward these Heroes with the employment opportunities they deserve.”

Last season, Panther began a program where it hosted local employers at each respective race venue to help educate the community on the need, and benefits, of hiring military members. This season, in conjunction with Hiring Our Heroes, the team will be expanding that effort by hosting upwards of 50 local business leaders at each domestic IndyCar Series event, and by supporting hiring fairs held in local race markets and around the country. Hiring Our Heroes has conducted more than 90 hiring fairs since its inception in March of 2011 and has connected nearly 90,000 veterans and military spouses with 4,600 different employers in 44 states and the District of Columbia. To date, these hiring fairs have helped more than 8,000 veterans and military spouses secure jobs, and Hiring Our Heroes plans to expand from 100 hiring fairs in its first year up to 400 in local communities across America in its second year.

“Hiring Our Heroes is excited about joining forces with Panther Racing to raise awareness on the staggering unemployment rates facing America’s veterans and military spouses and to help them find meaningful careers,” said Kevin Schmiegel, founder and executive director of the U.S. Chamber’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative.  “Panther Racing has a tremendous track record in supporting military families and particularly those serving in the National Guard and Reserve.  We stand together in recognizing that this is more than a jobs issue, it’s critical to our national security.  The unemployment rate among National Guard and Reserve members is far too high. Keeping America safe and secure starts with making sure the men and women who have served have job security at home.  We look forward to working with Panther Racing to make a difference in the lives of veterans and military spouses in local communities across the country.”

The White House’s Joining Forces initiative, led by the First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr Jill Biden, reaches out to all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. Joining Forces assists with securing employment amongst military members by highlighting the workforce potential of veterans and military spouses, expanding employment and career development opportunities and helping employers create military family-friendly work environments. To date more than 1,500 companies around the country have committed to hire 150,000 veterans and military spouses in the coming 2 years.

“With American hiring once again, this teaming effort with Panther Racing and the US Chamber of Commerce represents a tremendous opportunity for the nation's employers to reach out and serve our troops and families as well as they have served us. We are thankful for Panther Racing’s leadership and look forward to hiring America’s veterans and their spouses in the months ahead," said Captain Brad Cooper, Executive Director of Joining Forces in the First Lady's Office.

Indianapolis-based Panther Racing, winners of two IndyCar Series championships and 15 races, has finished runner-up in the Indianapolis 500 an unprecedented four-consecutive times. The streak includes last season’s dramatic second-place finish with reining Indy 500 Rookie of the Year JR Hildebrand, a 24-year-old Californian who just completed his first full season in the IndyCar Series. In 2011, Hildebrand was named a national spokesperson for the National Guard’s Youth ChalleNGe Program – an evidence-based program that assists with high school dropouts – and was a key speaker when Panther hosted potential military employers at the track last season.

“For me it’s just been an unbelievably humbling experience to be able to interact and represent the National Guard and its servicemembers, and we’ve witnessed first-hand the importance of making sure they have jobs when they get home,” Hildebrand said. “This season, with Panther working with Hiring Our Heroes and Joining Forces, I know we’re going to be able to make a bigger difference across the country. As soon as employers get connected with the National Guard and Reserve servicemembers that are looking for work they’re going to quickly find some of the most skilled, selfless and dedicated employees in the country. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity to raise awareness and empower both employers and the general public to do everything they can to give back to an amazing group of people.”