Enhancing Veteran Lives Through Mobile Connectivity

Mike Katz, EVP, T-Mobile for Business

Every time I interact with a veteran, two thoughts enter my mind.

The first is the memory of my grandfather and personal hero, First Sergeant John Katz – a Hungarian immigrant who entered the country through Ellis Island and enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army in 1942. He was 32 years old.

A trooper in the 17th Airborne Division, 194th Glider Infantry Regiment, my grandfather fought on the front lines during the Battle of the Bulge and later dropped behind enemy lines in Western Germany as part of Operation Varsity. His unit drove eastward into the heart of Nazi Germany and didn’t stop fighting until victory in Europe was secured. The courage he and his fellow troopers had—volunteering to risk their lives to create a more just and peaceful world—is unfathomable to me.

And then I think about how much we owe our veterans and their families, and how we should be doing more to support them.

Collectively and individually, Americans have incredible access to opportunity: more quality schools, more career choices, more ways to be a successful entrepreneur. And yet, it’s easy to forget where those opportunities come from. So much of what empowers us in our daily lives is a direct result of the selfless sacrifice of our servicewomen and men.

As a proud grandson of a war hero, I’m lucky enough to work for a company that truly values service and recognizes that no service is more noble than the sacrifices made by those in our armed forces. At T-Mobile, we stand ready to serve those who serve us and actively look for ways to champion military members and their families in meaningful ways.

Fostering a community for veterans and allies

We have an amazing culture that starts on the inside and is reflected outward in the way we do business. Our Diversity and Inclusion networks include a Veterans and Allies Network (VAN) with over 11,000 members across the country. VAN’s #MobilizeforService mission is to raise awareness around veteran culture, highlight the positive impact veterans have on the business, and showcase how veterans’ values of respect, integrity, loyalty, and honor are shared by T-Mobile.

T-Mobile has also learned from experience just how valuable it is to have veterans as part of our employee base, which is why we’ve pledged to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses by 2023. Each new hire that gets us closer to fulfilling that goal is a win-win.

Redefining healthcare at the Department of Veterans Affairs

As the leader of T-Mobile’s business-to-business enterprise, it’s my responsibility and privilege to provide private and public organizations alike the mobile solutions they need to enhance the lives of their employees and customers.

Health care is a universal need, and no population should ever have to worry about receiving quality care, especially our veterans. So when the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) approached T-Mobile to support their mission to provide the best possible care to their customers, we jumped at the chance.

One-third of the 18.2 million veterans in the U.S. live in rural areas where access to health care isn’t always easy. Thanks to VA Video Connect and T-Mobile’s strong nationwide network, veterans can now speak to their doctors from virtually anywhere and get the advanced telehealth services they need without it counting against their data.

The VA had over 1 million telehealth video encounters in 2018, making it one of the largest connected care networks in the country. It’s a huge success story that demonstrates the possibilities that new technology, like 5G connectivity, can unlock—from pacemakers providing cardiologists with real-time data to temporary sensors on patients recovering post-surgery.

Helping military families save money

In April 2018, we launched a plan to help military families make ends meet—prompting the rest of the industry to follow suit. The Go5G Military plan has spurred massive savings for our country’s military and veterans and delivers one of the biggest discounts ever for active duty military, veterans, and their families. By offering them half-off lines, the Un-carrier is potentially saving them over $1 billion every year.

Once their military service comes to an end, many veterans, regardless of age, turn to the classroom to fulfill the next chapter of their lives and careers. That’s why, in 2013, T-Mobile began partnering with the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice to support the school’s graduating veterans. We’ve donated $75,000 in scholarships and awards to veteran students, as well as equipped them with tablets and services to assist them in their studies.

November is Military Family Month, and it’s fitting that the month includes both Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day. The women and men who have served our country have ensured we have plenty to be thankful for.

I am continually inspired by the strength and courage of my grandfather and veterans like him, and I’ll forever be grateful for their service. I hope that as a society, as organizations and businesses, and as individuals, we will do more to thank them, find meaningful ways to enhance their lives, and welcome their values into our everyday lives.

Originally published on Forbes.com.

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