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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Blackstone Group will announce Thursday that it has reached its goal of having its portfolio companies hire 100,000 military veterans and spouses over the past eight years.

Why it matters: U.S. military veterans have higher rates of unemployment and suicide than do nonveterans.

History: Blackstone's initiative dates back to 2013, when Michelle Obama made a presentation to the Business Roundtable that included information about veteran suicides.

  • "I was sitting in the front row and she was talking about 22 military people per day killing themselves, and asking the business community to make a five-year commitment to help do something about it," remembers Blackstone founder and CEO Steve Schwarzman, who once served in the Army Reserves. "I was really affected by it because it's such a big deal to serve, as opposed to being in the private sector."
  • Schwarzman flew home to New York and, before he reached his apartment, dictated a note to Michelle Obama that Blackstone would commit to hiring 50,000 vets over the next five years.
  • "It was a very atypical thing for me to do, and not how we normally make decisions at Blackstone," he explains. "I went into our management committee meeting the next day and everyone was suitably surprised."
  • Blackstone then worked with government officials at Defense and Labor, plus Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, to develop an infrastructure to connect vets with Blackstone job opportunities. It also created a veterans affinity group inside of Blackstone, and worked with portfolio companies on issues of onboarding and integration.

By the numbers: Blackstone hit its 50,000 goal within four years, and then set out to do the same thing again.

  • Overall, the firm's portfolio companies (non-real estate) employ around 560,000 people around the world. Recent acquisitions include Allstate Life Insurance, Bumble and Signature Aviation.

Look ahead: Blackstone doesn't plan to set a new veteran hiring goal, instead folding the initiative into a program called "Career Pathways" that's designed to help portfolio companies expand their job applicant pools beyond traditional candidates.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 10, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: Honoring Latino veterans' service & sacrifice

On Wednesday, November 10th, Axios justice and race reporter Russell Contreras discussed ways to commemorate the contributions of fallen heroes and the importance of public policy that supports Latino veterans in civilian life after they have served, featuring Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Hispanic Veterans Leadership Alliance board member Col. Lisa Carrington Firmin.

Rep. Ruben Gallego recalled his experiences serving in the military and discussed the government’s role in protecting and honoring those who have served in the armed forces.

  • On the need for military representation in Congressional leadership: “The less people you have in the military that serve in Congress, the less people you have to keep the Department of Defense in check. At times, I’ve seen members of Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, be way too deferential to the Department of Defense, to generals, not calling into question things that really should be called into question. They should be part of our oversight.”
  • On changing military base names to honor Latino heroes: “The military is growing more and more diverse...especially when it comes to Latinos in the military. We need to have some type of base that’s named after Latino heroes, so that way they have someone to look up to…”

Col. Lisa Carrington Firmin illustrated her experiences as a Latina woman in the Air Force, why reforming the military environment is a meaningful goal, and how her father inspired her career in military service.

  • On the personal impact of a conversation she had with a fellow young Latina enlistee: “I realized that I was a role model and that not only were people watching me to see if I succeeded or not, but the people watching me, and I guess even silently rooting for me to do well, those were my fellow hermanas, and Latinos in the service. She made a real difference to me in how I carried myself.”
  • On the significance of having more high-ranking Latino officers in the military: “I never worked for a woman until I had been in the service 18 years at the Pentagon, and I had never, ever worked for a Latino or Hispanic officer. I think that's important, because the people coming up in the ranks need to see themselves in the leadership, I never saw that. It is really hard to be what you cannot see.”

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Abrams’ campaign manager rules out 2024 run if she wins governor's race

Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

In her first major interview since the official announcement, Stacey Abrams' campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo quashed speculation that the Georgia Democrat would interrupt a theoretical gubernatorial term to run for president in 2024.

Why it matters: Abrams' name has come up repeatedly as a top 2024 Democratic contender given President Joe Biden's age and Vice President Kamala Harris's low favorability rating.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 32 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Trump social media group raises $1 billion from undisclosed investors

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Donald Trump's social media startup on Saturday announced that it secured $1 billion in new investment as part of its ongoing efforts to become publicly traded via a blank check company.

Between the lines: None of the investors were identified, which is highly unusual for this sort of transaction.