Transitioning from military life into the civilian workforce is an experience taken on by millions of Americans every year. As veterans change jobs, work to connect with peers and accelerate their careers, the challenges they face have many factors – but finding people who can relate to their experience can be a proven road to success.

“What I’ve noticed over my military career is for me, I felt like I got better as I moved farther along.  I got better as a lieutenant, a little better as a captain, better as a major,” David Rhoads, AT&T Lead Compliance Analyst and CEO of AT&T Veterans employee group, said. The pieces started to fit as his responsibilities grew, his exposure to what success looked like increased, he witnessed responsible leadership and learned how to navigate the duality of life at home and life in service.

After 33 years with the National Guard, including two deployments, David has firsthand experience navigating military and civilian life, and a clear vision of how he can positively impact the next generation of veterans. “I go out of my way to be as genuine as I can,” David said when speaking of how he builds relationships with fellow veterans, “trying to bring awareness, giving them tools and sharing some personal history, and encouraging them to take ownership.”

“I wanted to be a part of this organization because I think they really helped me,” said David when speaking about our AT&T Veterans employee group. Many veterans struggle to find their footing when joining the workforce. Often, they don’t know where to find someone to talk to who can relate to their experience, especially when they’re just getting started.

Getting to know AT&T Veterans

Our vision is to be the world’s best corporate servant of Veterans, their families, and our community.  – AT&T Veterans Mission

AT&T Veterans employee group started in the 80s, when Vietnam veterans looked for more opportunities to share their stories and experiences.  They continue to be a community of volunteers working together to bring awareness to issues and opportunities with their key demographic in focus. Organizing as a non-profit has allowed them to participate in raising funds to support initiatives and to be there when members and non-members alike are in need.

Today, AT&T Veterans stands strong with around 8,000 members spanning 40 chapters across the country. With an inclusive membership policy – the employee group includes veteran family members, friends and allies. “Serving those who’ve served our nation” continues to be the shared vision and starting place for the group.

AT&T Veterans is purposefully engaged in giving back to the Veteran community and is aligned with key pillars to accomplish their mission:

  1. Heal

  2. Help

  3. Honor

  4. Educate

Each chapter of the employee group has local community goals. Several larger initiatives stay consistent throughout the year, including:

  • An annual scholarship program for veterans and children of veterans. The employee group provides up to $70,000 dollars per year for scholarships. $65,000 of which has successfully been awarded as of October 2021.
  • Raising visibility, education and awareness of Memorial Day with Carry The Load.
  • Putting together care packages for those who are currently serving with Operation Gratitude.
  • CAREER M.R.I. (Mentorship, Resume Building, Interview skills) a strategic mentorship program offered by AT&T Veterans for members to upskill and prepare for future career moves.

The commitment to Get to Zer0, which is a national AT&T Veterans initiative aimed at suicide prevention and awareness has found support across AT&T in 2021. The veteran community devastatingly sees up to 20 suicides per day. Suicide prevention efforts and awareness are front of mind when actively recruiting volunteers to face this nationwide epidemic head on, in addition to partnerships with other employee groups seeing the same tragedy in their communities.

Finding a Way Forward

David never underestimates the need to seek out mentors who have been where you are. Noting that he sees AT&T Veterans mentorship as a “Vehicle to Services.” He draws from his own experience to mentor deploying and transitioning veterans about everything from understanding benefits and pay while deployed to navigating career changes when you come back.  A priority to the employee group is to look for AT&T benefits gaps for veteran, active reserve, National Guard, military spouse or partners that need to be addressed. What does it mean to receive differential pay when you are mobilized? How are benefits covered and what are the additional benefits you have as a veteran? They are there to help with that transition from military to business.

As the group takes a look at its goals and purpose into 2022, they recognize the need for connections across the multi-generational, diverse group they proudly serve. Together with strong partnerships they continue to grow, honoring the service of brave Americans throughout our communities.

Learn More About Veterans at AT&T