Back in March 2010, Microsoft announced a special Veteran’s intiative called Elevate America to provide technology skills and related resources for returning military veterans and their spouses, to help them transition back into civilian life and take up useful and productive roles in the workforce. Recently, MS expanded on this initiative by announcing support for proposals from veteran’s service groups, work-force agencies, and nonprofits to assist in this effort. In fact, Microsoft plans to provide up to $2 million in cash grants, plus up to $6 million in software and other resources over the next two years to provide backing for their veteran’s support efforts. Veteran’s groups that have signed up for this initiative include the following:
- The American Legion
- Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
- Paralyzed Veterans of America
- the USO (United Service Organizations)
- Wounded Warrior Project
In addition to competing for grants, these organizations will also provide members to serve in an advisory capacity with Microsoft to make sure that benefits, grants, and offerings match up to actual veteran’s needs and abilities.
This is a fantastic initiative, and I hope that Microsoft can up its financial and support antes even further, and will keep the program going for longer than two years. Studies show that it can take 4-5 years for many veterans to fully re-integrate into civilian life after returning from combat tours, and that some veterans take even longer than that to return to “normalcy” (and of course some sufferers of PTSD as well as other forms of more visible battlefield trauma never really complete that return journey at all). I’m hopeful that other technology companies will create similar programs.
I also think that we who work in IT and benefit from the sacrifice and suffering that our military personnel routinely accept as part of their jobs can turn around to pitch in and help their brothers in arms make the return to civilian life easier and faster. Where do we sign up?