Our military community is charged with one of the greatest responsibilities there is: to protect and serve our nation. During their time in the armed forces, people in uniform and their families both make incredible personal sacrifices, and they learn how to succeed in dynamic, high-stakes environments. The skills they develop — teamwork, resilience, situational awareness — are absolutely essential in the line of duty, and undoubtedly useful in careers outside the military.
Unfortunately, many outgoing service members struggle to find their place in the civilian workforce, and the growing gulf between civilians and the military has been a factor. In our roles at Comcast and NBCUniversal, we see both sides of this divide. On one hand, many hiring managers aren’t familiar enough with military operations and terminology to adequately evaluate veterans' resumes. On the other, veterans aren’t familiar enough with the private sector to present their skills and experience in a way companies can understand in context.
It’s important for companies to take action to close this gap and serve the military community. Service members are uniquely qualified to make significant contributions to the private sector. And given today’s disruptive media landscape, our future depends on finding employees who can learn quickly, solve complex problems under pressure, and adapt to rapid technological change — broad skills that most veterans already have. So, even as we invest in skills training across our organization, we also need people who can bring these critical attributes to the table.
That’s why on this Veterans Day, as part of our second annual BOLD Veterans Day celebration, we’re proud to announce our partnership in launching a brand new Veterans Residency Program, which is designed for mid-to-senior level veterans who often face challenges locating opportunity in the civilian workforce. Starting next year, this new partnership will allow two members of the military community exposure to all aspects of our Advertising and Partnerships business, with the opportunity to become a full-time member of our team. This new Residency initiative builds on the success of our current entry level NBCU Ad Sales Associates program— we launched several years ago and have already dedicated two spots for veterans last year and moving forward. All told, the Advertising and Partnerships division will now have four dedicated spots for this community every year, as we do our part to recruit and retain more military talent.
Of course, these two programs are part of a larger, more inclusive talent strategy and our broader commitment to the military community. In 2015, Comcast pledged to bring 10,000 military community members on staff by the end of 2017. After exceeding that goal, we’ve set a new one: expand our community and bring in an additional 11,000 veterans, military spouses, National Guard and Reserve members.
At the same time, we know hiring is only one way to engage the broader military community. Since 2011, Comcast NBCUniversal has given $142 million in cash and in-kind donations to military organizations. In 2019, 13,886 of our employees participated in veteran-related projects. And when an American Community Survey discovered that 30% of low-income veterans lacked internet service at home, we expanded our broadband adoption program to approximately 1 million low-income veterans across the nation.
These efforts are bigger than recruiting talent for our company; when we invest in the entire military community, our country becomes stronger, too. One reason why service members choose to leave the all-volunteer force is because their spouses cannot find gainful employment—which means employing veterans is not just an economic issue, it’s a matter of national security. That’s why we’ve partnered with other organizations as part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s campaign to hire 100,000 military spouses.
And that’s not all. We want to open up our resources and share what we’ve learned so that other businesses can help serve the military community. We’ve teamed up with the Society of Human Resource Management to develop resources to recruit, hire and retain military talent, including the “Veterans at Work” certificate program for hiring managers and HR professionals. We also partnered with PsychArmor to create free resources to help organizations build their military engagement programs. And we’re always looking to work with partners who are committed to serving our military community.
Ultimately, we all share the responsibility for supporting those who keep us safe and free. No matter the industry, we can leverage our resources and expertise to support service members and their families, and transform our culture by recognizing their skills and creating new opportunities. Together, we can help millions realize their potential, prepare our organizations for the future, and strengthen our nation as a whole.
Retired Brig. Gen. Carol Eggert is the senior vice president for military and veteran affairs for Comcast. And Gina LaRussa is the senior vice president for human resources, advertising sales for NBCUniversal.