CEO Steve Ballmer unveils Microsoft’s salute to military vets
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was on hand Thursday to unveil the Wall of Honor, a permanent digital salute to military veteran working at Microsoft.
Ballmer was on hand to unveil the wall, which is a “living tribute” to Microsoft employees who have served in the military. The display case contains mementos from veterans, such as military coins, awards given to Microsoft and a duffel bag covered in patches of different military units.
“Our goal is to honor the contribution of Microsoft employees that served or continue to serve,” Ballmer said in front of the wall, which has a screen with the names and photos of veterans now at Microsoft.
“Veterans make some of the best employees, but there’s a transition from military communication to business communication,” Ballmer said.
To help solve that problem, Microsoft is investing millions of dollars in post-military education for vets. In August, Microsoft announced it was backing a jobs for American vets effort with $2 million in cash and up to $6 million in software and training to help U.S. military veterans get IT training.
Microsoft is expanding its Elevate America Veterans initiative by partnering with the U.S. Department of Labor to distribute 10,000 technology training and certification packages to veterans. At today’s event, Ballmer said this commitment totals $12 million worth of cash, products and other services. Bellevue College’s Project Succeed will be one of six beneficiaries of the program.
Microsoft also recruits veterans through the company’s Military 2 Microsoft program, which helps veterans and those serving in the National Guard and Reserve to find job opportunities at Microsoft.
Microsoft timed its announcement to coincide with President Obama’s recent announcement of new measures to help returning vets tackle a high unemployment rate, which is currently at 12.1 percent. At the White House today, First Lady Michelle Obama praised Microsoft’s efforts, as well as those of Bellevue-based Guidant Financial.
Other tech companies are recognizing the talent that veterans bring to the table. In August, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray praised Amazon.com’s efforts to hire veterans. Amazon has hundreds of veterans currently working for the company, with many working in the customer service and fulfillment centers.
A Microsoft spokesperson said the company doesn’t know exactly how many veterans work there, but more than 500 have identified themselves as a veteran on personnel files.
“Veterans provide leadership, experience, maturity and passion, and Microsoft recognizes that,” said Maj. Gen. Chris Cortez, a retired Marine and Microsoft’s current general manager for strategic operations.
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