Google Event Shows How Valuable Veterans Can Be To The Tech World

Paul Szoldra

For the hundreds of thousands of veterans soon to be hitting the civilian workforce in the coming years, the tech industry may be the place to shine.

In a presentation put on by non-profit "Got Your Six" at Google's New York headquarters Friday, some of the top minds in tech, non-profits, and politics made the case that hiring veterans — especially in the tech sector — is a huge win for businesses.

"130,000 soldiers will leave the army every year," said Brig. Gen. David MacEwen, the Army's chief administrative officer. "They deserve to be brought back into society."

Google has been leading the way with the creation of VetNet and by bringing on veterans in many aspects of their business. The company's head of user operations is a former F-14 pilot, a Navy veteran takes care of green energy operations, and it's a Marine who oversees the release and recovery of the balloons designed to provide Internet worldwide with "Project Loon."

"At Google, we hire veterans because of the values that they hold," said Carrie Laureno, an audience evangelist at Google, and founder of the Google Veterans Network.

The opportunities extend far beyond Google, according to Rob Gordon, a 26-year veteran and chief strategy officer at APX Labs“Our veterans are contributing in so many ways and thinking about so many innovations," he said.

Some of those innovations include RideScout, a smartphone app that aggregates different commuting options like buses, trains, and cars all in one place. Another, he says, is lettrs, an app that allows users to write letters without going to the post office.

“They are an important part of our human capital in this country," Gordon said.  "If only we provide our veterans with further opportunities to innovate, create, and ideate in the field of technology — America will be a better place."

While the technology sector offers many opportunities, some have gone the non-profit route and produced incredible results.

Jake Wood, a former Marine Corps sniper, is co-founder and CEO of Team Rubicon, a non-profit providing relief to victims of natural disasters — most recently helping in the Colorado floods, as well as repairing areas of New York devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

"If we can provide the leadership that these military veterans are willing to provide, we can get America back to its roots," said Wood, who says Rubicon strives to return to an age when "neighbors help neighbors."

Throughout the talks, speakers emphasized the value of veterans, often entrusted with huge responsibility and instilled with leadership experience.

"When I look at a soldier, I don’t have to get their resume," said MacEwen. "I know they are the type of person I want to hire."

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