While the holiday season is a time of joy for many people, it is also a time when we are reminded of the many American families who are struggling – not just during the holidays, but all year long. We were glad to be part of an effort to help one such family today.

The Meyer family of Newton, Iowa, was hit hard by the recession. Todd Meyer, a Navy veteran who served in the Gulf War, is about to be laid off from his job. His wife, Teresa, is working two jobs to be able to keep their daughter Caitlin in college and keep food on the table. They also have two other kids, ages 10 and 17. On today’s episode of “The Talk,” CBS surprised the Meyers with a donation from The Sunshine Lady Foundation to help support Caitlin and her sister’s education. We joined in on the holiday surprise by teaming with the US Communications Sector, OEM, and Entertainment & Devices teams to give the family Microsoft technologies to help them connect, learn, work and play – a 4GB Xbox 360 with Kinect sensor bundle, new Windows 7 PCs with Office 2010, and new Windows Phone 7s for the whole family.

Also, we are supporting the Meyers with vouchers for Microsoft trainings and certifications to give the kids new skills to help them succeed in school and help give Todd new technology skills and certifications that can help him be more competitive in the job market. RJ Naugle, who leads Microsoft's Military Veteran Outreach and Recruiting Program, We Still Serve, is volunteering to provide guidance and advice to Todd to help him with his job search.

Unfortunately, the Meyer’s situation is all too common today and veterans, in particular, have been hit hard by the recession. Over the past six months, the average unemployment rate among veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has been 16 percent higher than the rate for nonveterans (10.7 percent compared with 9.2 percent). This is one of the reasons Microsoft launched the Elevate America Veterans initiative last month to help provide our country’s veterans and their spouses with the skills and resources needed for success in today’s workplace. We look forward to supporting more veteran families through this program and other families through Microsoft’s Elevate America initiative. 

To learn more about resources available to veterans, visit www.microsoft.com/veterans. To learn about Microsoft’s Elevate America tools and resources to build your technology skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow, visit www.microsoft.com/elevateamerica.

 

Mario Rebello, Citizenship Lead, Microsoft United States Public Sector