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I didn't have to worry about my home. I didn't have to worry about my family. My boss took care of everything.

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Transitioning Back to Civilian Life

By: Antonio Montenegro, Senior Specialist – Network Planning Engineer

For many veterans, finding and succeeding in a new career provides a challenge unlike any faced while serving our country.

Antonio Montenegro Senior Specialist – Network Planning Engineer

As an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, I know firsthand how difficult the transition back into civilian life—and the workforce—can be. Skillsets carefully fostered during active duty suddenly seem obsolete, and ranks and occupation codes get lost amongst a sea of corporate titles and responsibilities.  For many veterans, finding and succeeding in a new career provides a challenge unlike any faced while serving our country.

I learned of the 100,000 Jobs Mission, a coalition of more than 50 companies, including AT&T, that have pledged to hire 100,000 transitioning service members and military veterans by 2020. Countrywide, the important initiative is halfway to its goal. As of December 31, 2012, 51,835 veterans had been hired through the 100,000 Jobs Mission. Luckily, I was one of them. I was able to find a position at AT&T—a company dedicated to hiring and supporting veterans and our families. 

AT&T's commitment to hiring veterans is long-standing, but it has accelerated in the past two years. In that time, AT&T hired a Military Talent Attraction Program Manager to inform the military about AT&T and educate AT&T managers about the military. The company has also launched a military focused career site, a Military Skills Translator Tool that helps veterans align their Military Occupation Code or Military Occupation Specialty to civilian jobs that are good fits for them, and a Careers for Veterans program that trains veterans on how to conduct a job search.

In working here, I've also come to realize that company's support for veterans doesn't stop once they're hired. AT&T's more than 5,500-member veteran Employee Resource Group is a source of support for veterans like me making the transition into the civilian workforce. In fact, I was invited to participate in a veteran-based conference in Florida highlighting AT&T's commitment to hiring veterans and be a part of the hiring processes myself! Another fantastic resource to network and aid in the transition process is the AT&T Pioneers. They are one of the largest industry-sponsored volunteer organizations in the country, and host events in my community and across the country for active duty military, veterans and our families.

AT&T also supports great organizations like Cell Phones for Soldiers, and their recently announced initiative "Helping Heroes Home," a program which provides emergency funds for returning Veterans to help with communication challenges and other assimilation hardships. I was proud to see AT&T support this important effort through a $450,000 contribution from the company and by activating the members of AT&T's community to raise an additional $50,000 for Helping Heroes Home.

In addition to all the work AT&T does to hire and support veterans, they also take the time to thank us. I appreciated the fact that in honor of Veterans Day, AT&T invited members of the community into their retail stores across the country to use their devices to record messages of thanks for veterans. The "Love a Vet" campaign resulted in over 150 moving videos that were uploaded to the Love a Vet YouTube playlist and shared with veterans like me all over the world.

From day one, AT&T has been there to support my transition into the workforce, my family, and organizations that I care about. I'm proud to have served my country, and proud to call myself an AT&T employee.