MILITARY AND VETERANS – A Special Partnership
"The connection we feel is very personal. It's about teamwork and partnership." That's how one Boeing employee summed up our relationship with military personnel, veterans and the families who stand behind them. With gratitude, compassion and respect, we acknowledge the depth of their service and sacrifice.
Landing a job is hard enough. But, for many military veterans recovering from wartime injuries, the obstacles to employment can seem insurmountable. Just ask Chad Bolton, who was hit by shrapnel and suffered a brain injury as an Army specialist serving in Afghanistan in 2007.
Bolton was among the first veterans hired through Boeing's Wounded Warrior Hiring Program at the company's Mesa, Ariz., plant in 2012. Today he works helping build the AH-64 Apache helicopter for U.S. and allied government customers.
"The significance of working on the Apache means that, in a way, I'm still helping the guys on the ground accomplish their objective," Bolton said recently.
The Boeing Wounded Warrior Hiring Program illustrates the company's longstanding commitment to the men and women of the armed forces. With more than a million service members transitioning to civilian life over the next five years, the tens of thousands wounded in battle face unique difficulties.
"After talking with a number of veterans, it was clear to me that we were in a position to act to address the challenges wounded veterans face in the job market," said Tony Ham, the Mesa site leader and director of operations. "It's important that we show our support to those who serve and put themselves in harm's way."
About 25,000 Boeing employees are veterans and many continue to serve in the National Guard and Reserves. Leo Brooks, a former Army brigadier general and Boeing vice president for the National Security & Space Group, notes that the company's ties to the armed services go far beyond that of contractor and customer. "Veterans know their work in the military was meaningful, and many see working at Boeing as a way to continue that sense of purpose. Their values of integrity and teamwork are a strong complement to the amazing things we do, and we are fortunate to have veterans and military spouses on our team."
Boeing's partnership with American Corporate Partners supports veteran transitions from the armed services to the civilian workforce at a time when the unemployment rate for veterans remains high, especially for young veterans. Through mentoring, career counseling and networking, Boeing professionals are helping veterans develop career paths and build professional networks.
Matthew Robinson, a five-year U.S. Army veteran and graduate student at the University of Maryland, found the American Corporate Partners program an "insightful" way to share ideas with those already in the corporate world. He said, "After participating in the program and learning from my mentor, I felt more confident in the decisions I was making. Learning through the experiences of my mentor and others has prepared me well for success in work and life."
His mentor, Greg Perkinson, a manager for Boeing Defense, Space & Security, and a U.S. Air Force veteran, sees the program as an opportunity to assist those searching for career opportunities. Perkinson said, "Through mentoring, we can help support those who have served as they become leaders in the private sector. I learned more than I taught, and enjoyed working with one of our country's great veterans."
Boeing's support for the Tennessee Valley Corridor's innovative NEW-STEM (Non-Traditional Emerging Workforce in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Program is preparing veterans for in-demand high-tech jobs. In addition to traditional classroom learning, the program pairs student veterans with Boeing mentors.
"Boeing's support for the program and the mentoring relationships really prepared me for my transition to the civilian workforce," said Russell Reith, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, recent Boeing hire and NEW-STEM graduate, who works as an engineer for the Space Launch System, NASA's new heavy-lift launch vehicle.
Beyond these efforts, Boeing continues to support innovative programs that strengthen the veteran and military communities. The company recently established an employee veterans affinity group, and helped expand the National Math and Science Initiative for military families by bringing college level courses to four high schools serving military bases.
The company also launched a pilot program that matches college student veterans with Boeing employees as mentors. Meanwhile, a partnership that Boeing initiated with a nonprofit called The Mission Continues is funding community service fellowships for post-9/11 veterans. Following successful completion of the program, graduates can pursue full-time employment or higher education. Boeing also maintains a military careers website with a military-skills translator tool that enables armed forces personnel and veterans find Boeing career opportunities that best align with their experiences.
"Business must play a role in ensuring that veterans and military families have the support they have earned," added Brooks. "We can help make veterans feel more connected to their communities, while at the same time help civilians gain a better understanding of and appreciation for the sacrifices they have made."
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