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The brisk, Midwestern fall left a chill in the air — a perfect night to wrap your hands around a hot bowl of soup in a warm home. Fortunately, for nearly 500 young children in Detroit, the doors to the homeless shelter were open. Their parents had seen these kinds of rough nights before. Not just on the streets of Detroit, but — in many cases — while deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan or other locations where their country had sent them. They are veterans ... and, along with their children, they are now homeless. The person next to them in the foxhole was no longer their fellow service member. It was their child.
On this cold night, the warm food was being generously served by volunteers, many who had also previously served in uniform. They had returned home and moved on to other careers. But, they were trained to leave no one behind. And, so as they shared food, clothes, gift cards, go-phones and their time, they returned to service.
For one of those volunteers, Sheila Parson, this is her “night job.” During the day, she works at AT&T on the Talent Acquisitions team. Thanks to her and so many of her colleagues' tireless efforts in the company, they have been able to successfully help more than 10,000 veterans also find a career at AT&T. At night, she manages a nonprofit organization that she had formed — QSA Foundation — to help homeless children and military families, as well as volunteers with AT&T Veterans (an employee resource group dedicated to serving veterans/members of the military).
And as they do on so many occasions, AT&T employees and retirees, who were returning to service, transformed a shelter into a home.
For AT&T, this isn’t just about filling jobs or helping in the community around select national holidays; this is a part of our DNA. And, we’re honored by the years of recognition that G.I. Jobs Magazine has bestowed on us, naming AT&T as one of the Top 50 Most Military and Military Spouse Friendly Employers.
It’s why Sheila and more than 4,500 of her co-workers at AT&T have been recognized by President Obama with the Presidential Volunteer Service Award.
Leading up to this Veterans Day, AT&T has been working with Cell Phones for Soldiers to host events for AT&T employees to serve homeless veterans in cities around the country.
And as we do every day, not only on the 11th day of the 11th month of every year, we say thank you: to Sheila, our other AT&T employees, retirees and every American who has worn the uniform or whose family has served. And to the 10,000 employees, who are serving our customers with the same level of professionalism you learned in the military, we know we have a lot to learn from you as we welcome you to our ranks!
Please pass the word about job openings to other veterans who may be interested — they can learn more here.
Paul La Schiazza
President — AT&T Illinois
DIRECTV (Channel 239) and U-verse (Channel 1114) customers can watch AT&T’s original documentary “GI Jobs” starting on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on AUDIENCE® Network. “GI Jobs” documents the struggles and obstacles that veterans face to find a job after they separate from the military. They can also live stream it on the DIRECTV App and U-verse App for smartphones and tablets, directv.com and uverse.com.