After serving 10 years in the Navy, Chris McKone wanted to find a job that would allow him to continue serving his country.
“One of the main reasons I wanted to get into the energy industry was to have the opportunity to impact the country in a positive way,” said McKone, now an associate reservoir engineer at Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. “Chesapeake is committed to that, and the hiring of veterans is a testament to that. The ultimate goal here is to provide domestic energy to the country.”
McKone and more than 220 Chesapeake employees on Monday participated in a Veteran's Day ceremony at the company's Central Park Field.
“This is a testament to how committed Chesapeake is to hiring veterans. You can see that just by the number of people associated with this ceremony,” he said. “I was appreciative of the opportunity when I got it, and I'm pleased to see it offered to so many others.”
McKone and the more than 1,200 military veterans who are Chesapeake employees throughout the country each will receive a commemorative coin to recognize Veterans Day and their service to both the country and to Chesapeake. About 400 veterans work at the company's Oklahoma City headquarters.
Chesapeake hired more than 600 veterans in 2012 and was recently ranked No. 43 on G.I. Jobs magazine's list of the Top 100 Military Friendly Employers.
“It's the right thing to do,” Steve Dixon, Chesapeake's chief operating officer, said of the company's effort to recruit veterans. “They are excellent employees. We're very pleased to have them. They have a good worth ethic. They're loyal, honest and have good teamwork.”
Chesapeake has more than 13,200 employees nationwide and more than 4,800 at its Oklahoma City headquarters.
Despite their experience, the national unemployment rate for veterans is three times higher than that of nonveterans, said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Rita Aragon, Oklahoma Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs.
“It's very important to have companies that are really reaching out and going after our veterans,” she said.
Military veterans make up about 10 percent of Oklahoma's population, far exceeding the national average of about 1 percent.
Oklahoma employers have benefitted from the veterans' experience, Aragon said.
“Employers want employees who are able to work on their own and have initiative,” she said. “They want employees who have integrity and dependability and who know how to get to work on time. They also want people who have a love of country, which translates to a love of the business they're working for. It makes them very employee-friendly to be able to work with other people who have that same kind of value.”