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Repaying veterans’ blank checks

By Patrick Schmidt

Physical checks have become something of a novelty in our electronic payment world. Even most retailers who accept checks are turning them into electronic payments at the cash register. How rare are they? My 22-year-old son and 20-year-old daughter have never written a check even though they have held bank accounts for years.

I once had to explain to my children the concept of a blank check. Most important in my description was the level of trust you needed to have in the individual who receives a check with a blank amount. While they puzzled over this, I related an analogy I heard from a pastor some time ago about Veterans and the “blank check” they hand over to the people of the United States.

When a man or woman signs up for military service, they are saying, “Here is the blank check of my life. You may fill it out with any location or duty. I trust you.” Uncle Sam fills in the amount. Most serve for a certain period of time, many serve their entire lives until retirement, and some sacrifice their lives in the line of duty.

While we owe those who served and their families gratitude every day, Veterans Day is set aside to specifically call out their sacrifices and give us resolve to never forget. It is impossible to fully repay the sacrifices our veterans make, but the technology industry is making serious efforts to help former soldiers and sailors transition into civilian life.

Here at LRS, we have affirmative action plans that give veterans hiring preference. As of September 1, 6.75% of our US employees identified as veterans, including several in our LRS IT Solutions division.

We put the plans in place partly to thank veterans for the sacrifices they made by serving in the US military, and also to benefit from the positive qualities veterans bring to the civilian workplace. After all, veterans have the ability to persevere through difficult times. They’re disciplined, and they’re not going to give up just because the work gets hard.

Veterans also have a strong sense of mission, coming from a background in which everything they do is oriented to the mission of defending the country. The goal is always excellence toward the mission instead of excellence for personal gain. Finally, veterans respect the chain of command; they understand the amount of respect that is due to people in areas of responsibility.

One of our employees who’s a veteran joked that veterans are used to being told what to do, especially when they’re called in to work an unscheduled shift.

We know we’re not alone in the IT sector. Cisco, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and IBM also have veteran hiring programs. Here are the details:

Cisco Systems has a variety of programs designed specifically for military veterans and their spouses. These include not only job placement assistance, but also certain training programs at no cost. For example, the company’s Veteran Talent Incubation Program (VTIP) is a no-cost 20-week, self-study program that leads to CCNA and certification. Learn more on the Cisco veterans’ website.

For many years, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has earned a reputation as a military friendly employer. Recent HPE veteran hires attest to this. Robbie Bethancourt, a U.S. Air Force veteran says, “The HPE community is a warm, welcoming, professional, diverse, talented collection of people, and they have greeted me and my service background with a combination of respect, admiration, appreciation, and gratitude.” Learn more on the HPE veterans’ website.

IBM is also known as a military friendly employer and has several special programs designed for veterans. One example is the Veteran 2K Hiring Initiative where IBM has committed to hiring 2,000 veterans by the year 2020. Another is the Veteran Employment Accelerator. This program provides free access to SkillsBuild, a full-service digital learning platform, and instructor-led software training, certification, and job placement assistance to those pursuing careers.

As we honor those who served this Veterans Day, we would do well to heed the words of President John F. Kennedy who said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.”

Many thanks to these and the other fine organizations who are living by their words of gratitude, doing what they can to repay all those blank checks.

About the author

Patrick Schmidt is a Technology Lifecycle Management Specialist with LRS IT Solutions. For more than 21 years, he has been helping customers get a firm grasp on their asset and contract management with a combination of comprehensive service level analysis and lifecycle management best practices.