Posted by Jeff Meisner
Editor, Microsoft on the Issues

How can the private sector best help our nation’s veterans successfully transition from the military to civilian employment? On Tuesday, leading experts and veterans gathered at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center in Washington, D.C. to focus on answering these questions and to explore best practices. The engaging and interactive discussion examined how government and industry can work together to help our returning soldiers transition to civilian careers.

House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) delivered opening remarks and provided an overview of the challenges facing veterans as they enter the workforce and the importance of bipartisan collaboration with industry to help our nation’s heroes find post-military employment.

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Chairman Miller delivers keynote remarks before the @Microsoft conversation on veterans’ employment and training.

Chairman Miller’s remarks were followed by a lively discussion moderated by former Congressman and MSNBC Host Patrick Murphy, and featured the following panelists: Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr., Commander, Joint Base Lewis-McChord; Sean Kelley, Senior Staffing Director, Cloud + Enterprise, Microsoft; Bernard Bergan, SDET, Developer Division, Microsoft; Rick Nelson, CEO, Direct Technology; and Thomas Dawkins, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Learning.

The conversation focused on new partnerships to help provide opportunities to our veterans, such as our Microsoft Software & Systems Academy (MSSA), a 16-week course launched last year to help transitioning service members obtain the skills required for careers such as a developer, applications engineer and IT project manager. Inspired by the 2011 “VOW to Hire Heroes Act,” this program leverages public-private partnerships to create a simplified military-to-employment transition at no cost to the service member. Each panelist provided a unique and personal perspective on his experience with the challenges and opportunities facing veterans as they enter the civilian workforce.

Tuesday’s conversation helped engage the community on ways to best support our veterans’ career transitions. Moving forward, as the pilot program expands to other bases, we look forward to continuing to prepare program graduates with the skills they need to compete in this vibrant, growing sector of the economy.

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Former Congressman , MSNBC Host and veteran Patrick Murphy leads the @Microsoft panel discussion, which includes: Sean Kelley, Senior Staffing Director, Cloud + Enterprise, Microsoft; Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr., Commander, Joint Base Lewis-McChord; Bernard Bergan, SDET, Developer Division, Microsoft; Rick Nelson, CEO, Direct Technology; and Thomas Dawkins, Senior Product Manager, Microsoft Learning.

Following the panel discussion, we also had a chance to sit down with Congressman Patrick Murphy to further discuss the challenges and issues facing veterans as they transition to the workforce:

We also had a chance to connect with Col. H. Charles Hodges Jr. to learn his thoughts on ways we can help veterans with employment and training.

Recent Microsoft Software and Systems Academy graduate and new Microsoft employee Bernard Bergan provided his perspective on how the private sector best helps support veterans as they successfully transition from the military to civilian employment.

To learn more about these issues, please check out Sean Kelley’s recent testimony before the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Additional details on the MSSA program and Microsoft’s veterans’ initiatives can be found on The Official Microsoft Blog. We also encourage you to read about Bernard Bergan’s experience in the MSSA program via his “Combat to Coding” blog post.

Editor's Note: This post was updated on Feb. 13 with three video interviews.