Veteran-Friendly Employer Spotlight: Corrections Corporation of America

Throughout the course of 2009, I am spotlighting veteran-friendly employer companies, employers large and small who understand the value that veterans bring to their organization. These are companies that are successfully utilizing the many skills and talents of military members. These organizations demonstrate sincere desire to bring more veterans into their companies by doing some or all of the following:

  • Establishing a specific military hiring initiative as part of its overall HR strategy;
  • Recruiting at military job fairs, through military job boards and on military installations;
  • Preparing their recruiters and/or hiring managers on how to screen veteran resumes and interview service members;
  • Updating their marketing materials to attract the military

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is a private corrections management firm headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. CCA partners with local, state and federal agencies to design, build, operate and manage jails, prisons and detention facilities. CCA manages approximately 75,000 inmates including males, females, and juveniles at all security levels, in 63 facilities under contract for management in 19 states and the District of Columbia. It also partners with all three federal corrections agencies, and almost half of all states and several municipalities.

While CCA has been hiring veterans since its inception in 1983, strategic efforts to specifically target and recruit military veterans formally began on a companywide scale in 2005, with a campaign branded “From Camouflage to Corrections,” through which military-friendly recruitment materials (including posters, flyers and brochures) were developed and distributed nationwide at CCA facilities, job fairs, transition centers and other landing points. CCA has since been named among the “Top 50 Military-Friendly Employers” by G.I. Jobs magazine in 2006 and 2008.

Wendy Gardner, CCA senior director, Staffing and Recruiting, explains that “One of the catalysts for the military recruiting campaign was the realization that several of our facilities, which happened to be located near military installations, were experiencing success in recruiting solid correctional professionals, particularly for operations (security) positions, from the military. Some facility human resources managers were attending military job fairs in their local communities. We recognized this as a new and effective best practice, and it served as the inspiration behind more strategic and growing inroads into military recruitment. Today, military veterans comprise a significant portion of the workforce at several identified CCA facilities – Kit Carson Correctional Facility (Burlington, Colo.), Leavenworth Detention Center (Leavenworth, Kan.), Mineral Wells Pre-Parole Transfer Facility (Mineral Wells, Texas), San Diego Correctional Facility (San Ysidro, Calif.), Stewart Detention Center (Lumpkin, Ga.) and Wheeler Correctional Facility (Alamo, Ga.). “

Gardner notes that the CCA workforce is comprised of nearly 17,000 employees, and approximately 10 percent, or roughly 1,700, of their employee base are covered veterans. In 2008 CCA hired 7,286 new employees, of which 439, or six percent, were covered veterans. The majority of veterans with CCA excel in security positions in facility operations, largely due to the training, experience and exposure veterans have had in matters of safety and security. However, veterans can also be found in rehabilitative programs, health services, quality assurance, education and many other areas in a correctional setting.

One of the benefits CCA has realized by hiring veterans includes relocation cost savings (see my earlier blog on this topic). Additionally, they have found that some veterans have training and certification in a skilled trade, which can be a training/education savings for the company as well. CCA is very proud to be designated as a GI Bill®-approved employer, thereby enabling employees at select facilities to use their GI Bill® benefits for additional career-related training.

Gardner is supported in this military hiring effort by three national-level recruiters and human resources managers at each of the company’s more than 60 facilities across the country. Her team has developed specific initiatives intended to recruit veterans and transitioning professionals with military experience. Such efforts include:

  • Attending career fairs and making presentations at military installations across the country
  • Developing local contacts at military transition centers and state workforce centers, particularly those within proximity to local CCA facilities.
  • Committing to attend four national military job fairs in 2009. CCA hiring managers frequently bring military veterans employed with CCA to these fairs to speak with prospective applicants; they have proven to be a major draw and their influence has led to their presence at such fairs being regarded by some as a best practice worth duplicating (and I would agree – I advocate that practice in my “Marketing to Attract the Military Applicant” web seminar).
  • Creating a dedicated page on its Careers section online, which includes a great video with targeted messaging that is crafted to appeal to the needs of military transitioners
  • Partnering with DirectEmployers Association, a nonprofit consortium of leading U.S. companies. DirectEmployers posts CCA openings on web sites with high military traffic, including (formerly known as America’s Job Bank) and its targeted partner site, DirectEmployers also sends CCA job announcements to state employment offices, enabling the company to comply with Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs’ standards and more efficiently utilize internal human resources (see my earlier blog on OFCCP and the Good Faith Initiative for Veterans Employment, also known as G-FIVE).

For additional information on CCA and their veteran-friendly employer initiatives, please contact K. Danielle Edwards, Communications, at To search for jobs at CCA go to its career page.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at