Our Values In Action
A Military Spouse Finds Support and Community
Nancy and Bruce McLain were lucky to have survived the Vietnam War.
Bruce, just a teenager at the time, served 13 months in Vietnam under the Special Operations Group, part of a team tasked with finding and rescuing missing and imprisoned soldiers. Of the 100 men on his team, only five made it home alive. While physically unscathed, Bruce suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and survivor’s guilt.
Nancy, born in Vietnam at the height of the war, doesn’t recall much from her early years in Saigon or her family’s post-war escape. But a few harrowing memories stand out: the terror of the Viet Cong; her family fleeing the country on a crowded boat captained by her father; and arriving in Malaysia as a frightened 6-year-old.
Nearly two decades later, Nancy and Bruce met in a video store in Los Angeles, where Nancy’s family had long since resettled following two years in refugee camps in Malaysia and the Philippines. Bruce had transitioned to civilian life after serving eight years in the Army and Air Force.
“We didn’t know right away that we had both been in Vietnam — that awareness unfolded over time,” says Nancy, “but I feel like it’s part of why we were meant to be together. We’ve definitely helped each other heal and move on from those experiences.” After a long courtship, they married in 2002.
As a Legal Technology Specialist at Comcast NBCUniversal in Los Angeles, Nancy has found friendship and support in the Veterans Network, the company’s 8,400-member Employee Resource Group (ERG) focused on military veterans, National Guard and Reserve members, military spouses, and their supporters.
The Veterans Network is just one aspect of Comcast NBCUniversal’s commitment to the military community, which also includes a dedicated Military and Veteran Affairs team and a goal to hire 21,000 individuals from the military community between 2015 and year-end 2021. The company’s promise to give back to those who served — and their spouses — is the same no matter if the individual is actively serving or served decades ago. We know that many veterans have sustained physical and psychological injuries that may require life-long support.
Bruce says that when he left the Air Force, he felt the world had changed without him, making it difficult to adjust to civilian life. “Home wasn’t ‘home,’” he says. “I felt abandoned by family, friends, and the state I grew up in.” While his PTSD has subsided significantly over the years, he still doesn’t like crowds and has a hard time developing friendships.
“As a spouse, you can feel lonely in what you’re dealing with,” says Nancy. “But with the Veterans Network, I have a support system, and I know my fellow members will understand if and when I want to open up.”
Nancy, who joined Comcast NBCUniversal in 2013, has particularly appreciated the inclusive ERG activities that allow family members to attend. “It’s very important to me that we give back to veterans as a family,” she says. “My kids and I have a real soft spot for Vietnam vets, in particular, because of my husband. And it’s good for Bruce to have the opportunity to talk with other veterans, welcome them home, or thank them for their service. I think these simple acts help him heal — and help him open up a little more each time.”
In December 2018, for example, the Veterans Network organized a group to take part in Wreaths Across America. Nancy, Bruce, and their two children, along with other veterans from the ERG and their families, visited Los Angeles National Cemetery, placing wreaths on military gravestones in what she describes as a “very emotional” ceremony.
Also in 2018, Nancy was selected to attend our Military Influencer & Leader Development (MILDev) Symposium in Philadelphia. MILDev brought together nearly 90 Comcast NBCUniversal employees from the military community to network, engage with senior leaders in the company, and focus on their own leadership skills and career development. MILDev participants heard talks from world-class speakers, such as Retired U.S. Army General Stanley McChrystal; took part in sessions on wellness, resiliency, and leadership; and even attended the Army–Navy football game.
“The symposium was such a great event,” says Nancy. “Everyone who attended was in awe of all they had planned for us. And it was wonderful to have something in common with everyone there — our love of the military. We definitely share a common bond.”
Comcast NBCUniversal is committed to supporting military spouses in the same way it does military veterans and Guard and Reserve members. The company has a unique Transfer Assistance Program, for instance, that helps Comcast NBCUniversal employees who are spouses of active-duty military find new jobs when a military reassignment forces them to move.
Also, Comcast NBCUniversal is a founding member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s new Hiring 100,000 Military Spouses Campaign, a three-year initiative that is raising awareness of military spouse unemployment — which stands at 16% nationally, more than four times the civilian average — and encouraging employers to commit to hiring more military spouses. Comcast NBCUniversal has included military spouses in our commitment to hire 21,000 members of the military community.
Beyond the numbers, Comcast NBCUniversal is creating a company culture in which all members of the military community, spouses included, feel valued and supported. “Military spouses are such a vital part of the military community,” says U.S. Army Brigadier General (Retired) Carol Eggert, Senior Vice President for Military and Veteran Affairs at Comcast NBCUniversal. “We work hard to ensure they get the support they need to be successful on the job.”
Nancy says she has felt that support and camaraderie from her colleagues and peers. She and Bruce, meanwhile, have leaned on each other to come to terms with their respective Vietnam experiences. Together, they visited Saigon in 2005 — the first time either had returned.
“Bruce admired the resilience of the people during the war and said he loved seeing what a beautiful country it was without all the smoke, the bombs, and the shooting,” says Nancy. “He also loved the compassion and graciousness of the people toward us and our 2-year-old daughter. And, we were able to visit my grandmother and great-grandmother, who had stayed behind. It was definitely a healing experience.”