Amazon’s Austin General Manager Terry Leeper announcing Warriors@Amazon group.

Amazon’s Austin Tech Hub on Monday launched Warriors@Amazon.

The group is comprised of Amazon employees who have served in the military and those still serving in the Guard and Reserve and all Amazon employees who support them.

In 2016, Amazon pledged to hire 25,000 veterans and military spouses by 2021 and since then the company has hired more than 17,500, said Austin General Manager Terry Leeper.

“We are way ahead of schedule for that and we’re very proud of that,” Leeper said.

In a little over two years, Amazon has hired 900 employees and occupies two buildings in the Domain area. It also has more than 100 jobs open in the Austin area including 17 listed in the Austin Warriors@Amazon group. The jobs are primarily for engineers. Overall, Amazon has more than 1,500 jobs listed worldwide targeted at military veterans and spouses.

“We have a big strong community here at Amazon for those in the military, veterans, and spouses,” Leeper said.

To help military veterans and spouses fill those jobs, Amazon launched an apprenticeship program that trains them in cloud computing, data service or software development, followed by a 12-month paid apprenticeship at Amazon.

In Austin, Amazon employees work on Amazon Web Services, Amazon Business, Alexa, video game design, advertising and more.

Amazon’s overall footprint in Austin is expanding. It bought Whole Foods a year ago and operates several distributions centers in the greater Austin area.
Austin is also a finalist for Amazon’s H2Q, a second Amazon headquarters. Amazon held a small event at its Austin offices in the Domain Monday to recognize the new chapter. Congressman Michael McCaul spoke at the event.

“Proud that Amazon is in Austin. We’re kind of hoping that the headquarters moves to Austin,” Congressman McCaul said. “But this is a really phenomenal step forward in terms of the veteran and helping treat the warfighter.”

“As chairman of the homeland security committee, I’ve been to the theater of war whether it be Iraq, Afghanistan, in the Persian Gulf on an aircraft carrier, I’ve seen the work they are capable of doing,” McCaul said. “When they come back from the theater of war they are looking a job, experience and an opportunity and I think that’s exactly what Amazon is providing.”

And it’s great to see the private sector step up and through this Warriors program and hire veterans, McCaul said.

“It’s such a noble effort,” McCaul said.

In August, Amazon will be honored with the Secretary of Defense’s Employer Support Freedom Award. It is given by the U.S. government to employers for their outstanding support of employees serving in the Guard and Reserve.

“Many of the qualities I valued in the military are also present here at Amazon,” said Michael Nelms, a Navy veteran and now an Amazon technical recruiter in Austin. He co-founded the Warriors@Amazon group with Christina Brown, an Amazon senior human resources assistant and the spouse of an Army veteran.

Military spouses can adapt rapidly, and problem solve regularly, Brown said. She moved from the Seattle Amazon headquarters to Austin with her husband and wanted to establish a Warriors@Amazon group here to foster comradery and support.