Edward Jones has hired 300 military veterans as financial advisors this year and plans to hire more, in part through its program called Forces, the financial services firm announced Thursday.

The new hires are in addition to the 1,300 veterans already working at Edward Jones as advisors. Headquartered in St. Louis, Edward Jones has more than 12,000 financial advisors working with 7,000,000 clients to provide long-term investment planning that emphasize a buy-and-hold strategy.

The first group of Forces trainees will graduate Sunday, Veteran's Day, and additional veterans are being trained. Forces has received approval in Arizona, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, Oregon and Washington for members to be eligible for GI Educational Benefits and GI On the Job Training benefits. Edward Jones says it is working to have the program approved for GI benefits in all states.

Forces is designed for people without financial training who have the necessary skills to become financial advisors and is open to most military veterans, according to Edward Jones. It is also open to those holding advanced degrees, such as legal or medical degrees, or those with an MBA who have less than three years work experience.

"Hiring military veterans is a part of the Edward Jones culture and heritage and not simply viewed as a corporate initiative," said Jim Weddle, Edward Jones managing partner. "It is no secret that the labor force and overall economic climate are making it difficult for veterans to successfully find civilian employment opportunities.

"The message we want to send is that financial services is a viable option that not only aligns with, but greatly complements, a military veteran's skill set."

Forces was designed to provide a high-level training and compensation package for veterans wishing to transfer to a civilian career, according to Edward Jones. The amount of the GI benefit available to the veterans is determined by the Veterans Administration and is paid to them for the first six months of employment and training.

Additional information about the program and the military benefits are available at www.ejcareer.com/forces or www.gibill.va.gov.

--Karen DeMasters