Courage & Connection – Honoring the Post-9/11 Military Community During National Veterans and Military Families Month
Twenty years ago, the eyes of the world turned to the United States as they watched the events of 9/11 propel our nation into a period of extraordinary change. This was especially true for millions of U.S. military service members and their families.
Year after year, post-9/11 veterans march in the footsteps of previous generations who selflessly put themselves in harm's way to protect the freedoms we cherish and enjoy every day. Throughout the last 20 years, the U.S. military remained an all-volunteer force and deployed to 80 countries, including 14 combat zones. More than three-quarters of these service members have been deployed overseas, and nearly 30 percent of these men and women deployed three or more times. This data represents the immense commitment and resiliency of these brave service members and their families.
As Comcast NBCUniversal celebrates veterans of all eras and their families during this National Veterans and Military Families Month, we want to recognize the courage of the post-9/11 generation and reflect on our company’s efforts to create stronger connections with the military community.
Improving Digital Equity
First, our Internet Essentials broadband adoption program continues to connect low-income veteran households to the Internet. We recently caught up with post-9/11 veteran Josh Delano to see how the program helped him achieve his education and career goals all while raising a young family.
In 2020, Comcast launched its innovative Lift Zones program by partnering with hundreds of community organizations nationwide to provide free WiFi where people could connect to the Internet while schools and offices were closed. We're proud of the many Lift Zones we installed throughout the country that directly serve veterans and military families at military community-serving organizations. Post-9/11 veterans and military families are able to find more ways to log on to the Internet, from accessing virtual VA health and wellness services to educational opportunities and career training.
Elevating the Military Experience
Second, Xfinity has curated a collection of military-focused documentaries, TV programs, and news specials to celebrate National Veterans and Military Families Month. Available on Xfinity X1, Flex, and Stream, the collection offers viewers authentic stories of the courage, heroism, and sacrifice of U.S. service members and military families. The destination also feature Comcast Newsmakers interviews with organizations meeting the unique needs of the post-9/11 military community, including cybersecurity, adaptive sports, accessibility, and traumatic brain injury research.
Xfinity customers can say "Military Appreciation" into their Xfinity Voice Remote on X1 and Flex to access the content.
Empowering the Military Community
Third, though more work is needed to close the military-civilian divide, we want to recognize all the bridges that have been built between the military community and the American people. Since 2001, there's been significant growth in military community-serving organizations, with many delivering social and educational connections between post-9/11 veterans and local communities. Comcast NBCUniversal has contributed over $191 million to military community-serving organizations. We're proud to partner with many of these groups, like the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, Student Veterans of America, PsychArmor Institute, and many others, that support the unique camaraderie among the military community as they build bonds with the civilian population.
Building Military Inclusivity
Fourth, finding meaningful careers is one of the essential factors to a positive transition from active service for post-9/11 veterans and military spouses. Our military hiring initiative has seen over 17,000 veterans, National Guard and reserve members, and military spouses join the Comcast NBCUniversal team. We value the talent and energy that military-connected employees bring to our organization, and we're committed to opening more doors of opportunity in the future.
We're also dedicated to creating an inclusive workplace for our military-connected employees. Our Veterans Network Employee Resource Group recently reached 10,000 members, offering professional development, mentoring, and other support opportunities for military-connected employees to thrive in their careers. Post-9/11 veterans are also the most racially, ethically, and gender-diverse population of veterans, and many of our military-connected teammates are leaders and participants in other resource networks, like our Women's Network, Unidos, OUT, MyAbilities, Black Employee Network, and Indigenous.
In 2021, our ‘military-ready’ workplace earned top ratings by Military Friendly, DiversityInc., VETS Indexes and U.S. Veterans Magazine.
Generating Economic Opportunity
Fifth, today, nearly 10 percent of all businesses in the United States are owned by veterans, employing more than 3.5 million people. Our company's connection to veteran business owners runs deep as our founder, Ralph Roberts, was a proud Navy veteran and entrepreneur. Nearly 200 veteran-owned businesses partner with Comcast NBCUniversal as part of our Supplier Diversity commitment, continuing a long history of veterans' contributions to our nation's economic health.
We're also excited that many veteran business owners benefit from Comcast RISE. Launched last year, the multi-year commitment provides marketing, creative, media, and technology services to small businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.
As we reflect on what the military community experienced these last two decades, we also acknowledge how the relationship between Americans and their military has changed. The U.S. military remains one of the most respected institutions in our country, and we're privileged to serve military employees, customers, and communities.
On behalf of Comcast NBCUniversal, I humbly say thank you to our nation's veterans, active-duty, National Guard and reserve service members, and military families.
Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Carol Eggert is Senior Vice President, Military and Veteran Affairs.