It is Veterans Day (observed and actual) in the United States plus Canada and it’s more than just a day for no mail delivery and closed office buildings. The requisite veteran human interest stories abound the timeline, Facebook, Media in general. Here is my favorite tech company with a real solution.
This isn’t some one-off PR move by Microsoft, they have a real commitment to Veterans companywide. It didn’t start with Satya Nadella, but he has enhanced it during his tenure. Even though I was not a veteran, most of my family was, so I have an appreciation for those that chose to serve.
Our nation’s Veterans have contributed to our country in so many ways, in countless locations around the globe. When they return home, many Veterans who reside in rural areas are not able to access broadband internet which is critical to using telehealth services, gaining educational opportunities, and growing a small business or running a family farm.
There are 2.7 million Veterans enrolled in Veterans Affairs (VA) who are living in rural communities, 42% of them do not have internet access at home which could support their use of VA telehealth services, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’, Veterans Health Administration’s Office of Rural Health. These rural Veterans live in areas where access to fast, reliable internet service may be limited or inaccessible and are facing higher rates of unemployment, longer drives to reach the nearest clinics and medical centers, and lower levels of educational attainment compared to their urban counterparts. Connectivity has the potential to improve this reality — with broadband, they can access telehealth services offered by the VA, identify and compete for well-paying jobs, improve and grow their own businesses, and take advantage of online education classes.
Microsoft and VA have been strategic partners, working together to improve the lives of Veterans, for more than 20 years. Today, I’m excited to share that Microsoft will begin expanding that work by helping VA to help bring connectivity to many Veterans living in rural towns and communities. Microsoft and its partners will be working with VA to provide capital, technology expertise, and training resources to bring broadband access to people in these underserved communities. Our hope is that this effort will unlock new economic opportunities, while also enhancing quality of life.
Through the partnership, we’ll help VA identify communities with Veterans in need and work with our internet service provider (ISP) partners across the nation to bring broadband services to those regions. Following our Airband Initiative model, we’ll also provide the Veterans in these newly connected communities with digital skills training so they can take advantage of the tools and services connectivity enables, including critical telehealth services provided by VA.
In the past 22 months, through the Microsoft Airband Initiative, we have seen firsthand just how many communities lack connectivity at broadband speeds and how this can hinder growth and new opportunities. We’ve also seen that partnering with ISPs to serve those most in need is an effective strategy to make progress quickly on this important issue. Our work with VA builds on those lessons and approach, which has resulted in partnerships that will bring connectivity to 1 million unserved rural residents in 16 states to date, with a plan to reach 3 million by 2022…
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Microsoft teams up with other technology companies to help veterans and service members adapt to new lives and address the technical skills gap.
This is the time of year where stories such as this one are told, as Veteran’s Day approaches in the United States. The holiday is November 11 (observed) and November 12 (official). Never mind that every day the men and women who in some cases made the ultimate sacrifice for this country and by doing so allows me the freedom to blog and to live my life without relative fear. I grew up in a Military family, so every day is honored and treasured.
Several years ago, a group of employees at Microsoft who had gone through the military-to-civilian adjustment themselves wondered: What if there was a way to transform a perceived weakness or lack of experience into a new set of talents? How could veterans maximize their strengths—grit, systems savvy, strong decision making, and steadfastness—and build needed skills on top of that? How could they connect with organizations who needed them and communities where they could feel like they belonged?
The answer came into focus: inspired and motivated by stories like Brown’s, Microsoft started a unique training program called Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA) in 2013, an effort which soon led to a the broader Military Affairsprogram to support veterans across the company.