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A good way to celebrate Independence Day? Hire a veteran

From Tom Lawing, Director, Network Operations – AT&T; Brigadier General (retired):

As Americans everywhere pause to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy this Independence Day, I hope we will also remember those whose commitment and sacrifice purchased the rights we often take for granted.

For more than two centuries, the men and women of our armed forces have gone in harm’s way, standing in the breech to preserve and protect our nation. Throughout my 30 years of military service, in the Army (Active/National Guard), I was continually impressed by the devotion to duty and the tremendous ability of the soldiers I was privileged to lead.

Today, many of those soldiers face an obstacle as daunting as their company’s First Sergeant: finding a civilian job. For thousands of veterans, securing and succeeding in a new career is often a challenging and frustrating process. This should not be the case.

Fortunately, many companies, including my own employer, AT&T, are ramping up efforts to hire and support employees who are veterans, while also bringing exceptional talent to the workforce.

In northern Iraq, I commanded a brigade responsible for construction and engineering projects that included restoring community infrastructure and building municipal facilities such as police stations. For a year, I saw firsthand the skills our troops brought to the mission: teamwork, problem-solving, understanding of technology and commitment to the “customer” – in this case the Iraqi people.

These are skills needed every day here at AT&T, so I was excited when we recently announced a goal of hiring 5,000 veterans and their family members into career opportunities over the next five years as part of the Joining Forces Initiative.

AT&T is also teaming up with JPMorgan Chase and the 100,000 Jobs Mission to launch an online veteran talent exchange later this year. Through this tool, active-duty members of the military and veterans will have the opportunity to “opt-in” to a talent-sharing database so their career information can be shared with employers that are members of the 100,000 Jobs Mission.

Current resources include our military career site at www.att.jobs/military and the Military Skills Translator Tool, which help veterans from all branches of service align their Military Occupation Code or Military Occupation Specialty to civilian jobs that are good fits for their skills and talents.

I’m proud to work for a company that prioritizes veteran hiring and strongly supports the citizen-soldiers who serve in the Guard and Reserve. I am also pleased that my work group currently includes former Marines, Sailors and Soldiers. They excel at getting the job done to serve our customers.

As fireworks fill the air this Fourth of July, I hope other companies will consider AT&T’s example. There’s no better way to honor America’s veterans than by hiring them.

Tom Lawing, a 29-year employee of AT&T, retired from military service as a Brigadier General in 2008. He lives in Matthews.
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