The Executive Committee; Lloyd Knight, John W. Phillips, Shreve Gould, Matt Grob, and Krista deKryger would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a great summer and thank you for your efforts to make Atlanta a top destination for veterans.
We are very excited to announce we have added a fifth position to the VETLANTA Executive Committee and have selected Krista deKryger to serve as our Director of Communications. Krista is highly experienced in the veteran support and volunteer space having served as a Transition Specialist for the USMC; Director of the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center; Business Manager & Executive Director for Instructional Initiatives at Uncommon Leadership; Vice President Education Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; Marine Spouse, volunteer for Warrior2Citizen and Hire Heroes USA. Krista will primarily be focused on internal and external communications including improving our social media presence.
For those of you who weren’t able to attend Q2 Summit you missed a great event. We had over 250 people from 90 organizations in attendance. First and foremost, we want to thank KPMG for stepping up to host the event and for their wonderful hospitality. Thank you to Ken Koch, Lauren Justice, Regina Mayor, the KPMG Volunteers and the Twelve Hotel staff.
The Q2 Summit was focused on veteran affiliated non-profits. When we first started VETLANTA, we were primarily focused on learning best practices from veteran employee groups representing several Fortune 100 companies across Atlanta. One of the primary topics of discussion in those early meetings was veteran affiliated non-profits. As veteran advocates within our companies, most of us are constantly being engaged by non-profits. These interactions are sometimes good and sometimes not so good. If you were at the Q2 Summit in 2015 you might remember our presentation titled: Non-Profits, the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY. The theme of the presentation was to remind our members to do their homework as not all non-profits are effective or efficient and some aren’t even legitimate, so before you give a dollar of your money or a second of your time, do your research.
At the Q2 Summit last year we had 15 non-profits present. The ones that were successful in seeing the benefits of VETLANTA were the groups that recognized the summit as an opportunity to establish grass roots support with our members. The ones that didn’t see benefit were those that immediately asked for that big check and were never seen or heard from again once it didn’t pan out. For this summit, we once again welcomed non-profits. We had 28 non-profits request to participate and it was a tough task narrowing the field down to 10 to present and 20 to set up informational tables. The presentations were better than ever and the informational tables were a huge success and something we look forward to doing again in the future. The VETLANTA Executive Committee would like to thank all of the organizations for participating and for your service to veterans.
Our Military 101 initiative has been slow to get off the ground however we’ve made real progress over the last month. Major Chris Dupuis, Air Force officer assigned to UPS under the Education With Industry Program, has taken the lead and has completed much of the presentation. Unfortunately, Chris’s Education With Industry assignment ends in July and he will be relocating to Langley AFB. We are looking for a program manager that can work with Chris on the development and take the lead in fielding the training. If you are interested, please let us know.
The Q3 Summit will be held on August 11th at UPS Corporate Headquarters in Sandy Springs. The event will be located in our corporate café and will largely retire the projector for the evening. We are working on some great guest speakers. We have tentative commitments from remarkable individuals including acting Secretary of the Army, Patrick Murphy; Jared Ogden, a former Navy Seal, Phoenix Patriot Foundation Founder and also a star of Ultimate Survival Alaska and Wayne Waddy Waddell, Retired Air Force Colonel and Vietnam War POW .
VETLANTA also supported a transitioning veteran’s event in cooperation with UPS, American Corporate Partners, Hire Heroes USA and Grant McGarry. UPS welcomed 50 veterans and spouses plus 50 volunteers at its corporate headquarters on April 20th. Hire Heroes USA conducted a half day transition workshop and Grant McGarry was the key note speaker. Grant is an Army Ranger Veteran and author of A Night in the Pech Valley.
The book is his account of what it takes to become an Army Ranger and what life is like to be in the 75th Ranger Regiment. More importantly it is about an operation in the most dangerous terrain for U.S. forces anywhere in the world. The Pech Valley is surrounded by Taliban-filled mountains on the Pakistan border in the Kunar Province, where the mountain peaks push ten thousand feet. On the night of August 18, 2010 a platoon of Army Rangers were on a direct action raid to capture or kill a high value target and this is the story of the Rangers who ferociously fought through the night and into the next morning. A Night in the Pech Valley is dedicated to Army Ranger, SPC. Christopher Shane Wright, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Pech Valley on the morning of August 19th, 2010.
After Grant’s comments we had a ninety minute networking session to give transitioning veterans and spouses ample opportunities to network with VETLANTA members. We then re-grouped and spent 90 minutes in a panel discussion. During the panel we covered a wide variety of topics including; building a personal brand, resumes, job interviews, follow-up, translating military skills, transitioning challenges, pitfalls and networking. The panel consisted of a wide breath of senior leadership from across the greater Atlanta area.
At the event, ACP’s Founder and Chairman Sid Goodfriend presented the ACP Award for Excellence in Veteran Engagement and Integration to the Chairman and CEO of UPS, David Abney, at the UPS World Headquarters in Atlanta, GA. This award is given to a company and its Chief Executive Officer who lead by example in the recruiting, hiring, training and retention of returning U.S. veterans so they may develop lasting careers.
VETLANTA would like to thank UPS and its employees including CEO David Abney, the panelists, Sid GoodFriend, Hire Heroes USA, and American Corporate Partners. Special thanks to Kevin Horgan, Maria Flowers and Loray Thompson for coordinating the logistics.
Southern Company/Georgia Power is scheduled to host the Q4 Summit at their headquarters in Atlanta at the end of October. Please contact the executive committee if your company is interested in hosting a summit in 2017. Hosts are required to offer a venue to host at least 200 guests, an event coordinator and provide snacks. UPS in partnership with VETLANTA will be hosting a Veteran Owned Business Summit on September 6th at its corporate headquarters in Sandy Springs. For additional information, contact Brian Wolfe at Bwolfe@ups.com.
Let’s move on to a review of our strategy. For those of you who are just getting to know VETLANTA, we are a fairly new organization. We had our very first meeting at Coca-Cola just a little over two years ago and a slew of meetings throughout 2014 before becoming an official club in the fall of that year. We had four official summits in 2015 and we will have four this year. We have seen significant growth in a short period of time and this growth has provided a substantial amount of momentum that has helped support several causes over the last two years however we want to have a bigger impact in making Atlanta a top destination for veterans.
The Executive Committee is charged in ensuring this momentum equals action and the action equals impact. Over the last several quarters, we have had many, many meetings with outside organizations to discuss strategy. There are too many groups to name them all however I’d like to personally thank Marshall Lauck and JWT for providing some solid guidance and support.
From these meetings, we have formulated a revised strategy. This strategy is still in the planning stages and we will continue to develop it in the next several months, targeting implementation in the next several quarters. Our strategy theme is Seven Pillars of VETLANTA.
These seven pillars represent the areas of emphasis in the Veterans’ community. None alone hold up the structure and all must rely upon each other. Each entity has their particular core competencies, and providing holistic support to our Veterans and our military families requires each entity working together. In this spirit, and in the demonstrated spirit of VETLANTA’s chartered mission of fostering collaboration, our strategy aims to mass and align the organizational efforts of all the major elements in this ecosystem: For-Profit Employers, Non-Profit Organizations, Government Agencies, and Institutions of Higher Learning.
In our Q2 Summit, we unveiled this basic framework and look for organizations to lead these Pillars in their respective areas of emphasis. We look for volunteers to emerge and sign up to help us shape these Pillars and lead them for an initial two year term. We would like to have these Pillars structured and operational by the end of 2016. We will be looking for volunteer organizations to sign up and lead each of the pillars.
Building on the momentum we have gained over the last year, to borrow an old cliché…the time has come to raise the bar for VETLANTA! To that end, we must understand what the REAL business benefit is to member Companies in belonging to VETLANTA. What is the true value proposition of why a particular Company…small, medium or large…wants to be associated or affiliated with VETLANTA. Taking this even a step further, when you consider how VETLANTA has evolved over the last couple of years, we also need to include in this research all governmental (State and Federal), non-profit and institutions of higher education. Some thought starters are:
- Veteran/Military Hiring
- Diversity & Inclusion
- Employee Business Resource Groups
- Veteran Retention
- Veteran/Military Employment
- Business Development
- Education…The Value of a Veteran
In wrapping up the Q2 Summit, John asked each of you to think about this and to participate in a survey that we will be sending out to each of you. We want to hear back from you. It is the only way we know if we are on the right track and to make sure VETLANTA truly “answers the call” not only for our members Companies and agencies that comprise the organization, but for the many Veterans and military families we have in and around the Atlanta area that we can help.
We look forward to seeing you all at the Q3 Summit on August 11th at UPS Corporate Headquarters in Sandy Springs. Look for additional details on our website (www.vetlanta.org) or on our LinkedIn VETLANTA group.
Memorial Day is an important day in America and often overlooked by many in our country. Memorial Day is our nation’s opportunity to pay tribute and remember those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Thank you VETLANTA for all you do on Memorial Day and the other 364 days of the year to honor our nations veterans past and present.
“But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate– we cannot hallow– this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Abraham Lincoln (Extract from the Gettysburg Address)