By Chris Crace, PwC
We have celebrated Memorial Day in our country for 158 years — a long, proud tradition founded for the purpose of offering “testimonials of respect to,” and “cherishing the memory of,” those who have sacrificed their lives while serving in the country’s armed forces. While it may be an especially meaningful day for those of us who have personally lost family, friends or colleagues, all Americans -- regardless of our ethnicity, religion or political beliefs -- unite on this day in remembrance of our military heroes. The idea of coming together is what interests me most this Memorial Day.
Recently our firm’s Chairman, Bob Moritz, said he believes the most significant way to memorialize the men and women who have made the ultimate of sacrifices is to honor veterans not only on one or two special days, but every day. At PwC, this means advancing initiatives across our company to hire and support veterans and their families and joining with businesses, organizations, and communities throughout the U.S. to expand employment and career opportunities for veterans and military spouses.
As our firm’s Veterans Advocacy Leader, one of the most rewarding parts of my job is connecting with the extraordinary people whose lives have been impacted by our veterans programs. This Memorial Day, I want to share a few of their stories.
After serving as a platoon leader during a peacekeeping mission in the Sinai Peninsula and a Ranger Training and Assessment Course platoon trainer at the Warrior Training Center at Fort Benning, Captain Brendan McKeague decided to brave a different kind of challenge.
This year, he completed PwC’s Cybersecurity Boot Camp, an initiative to train former military personnel to design and operate the technology and processes global companies will need to mitigate the increasing risks of cyber threats. Brendan has always exhibited enormous determination and focus. He’s a two-time Gold Medalist with the All-Army Men’s Soccer Team, will graduate next year from George Mason University with a Master’s degree in Information Security and Assurance, and is working full-time with our firm as he completes his graduate degree.
“I studied liberal arts and didn’t have any formal education in information technology or computers, but my military service helped me develop the tenacity and ability to perform under pressure and do whatever it takes to pursue my goals. Joining PwC and taking part in the boot camp was the best decision I ever made,” Brendan says.
Military personnel are not the only ones on the move. Their families must relocate, too, and it’s not an easy adjustment for anyone.
Erika Sartain, PwC's Public Sector Manager, had to give up the job she loved in New York City when her husband, Captain Joel Sartain, received orders to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Erika initially assumed she’d have to leave the company, but members of PwC’s Veterans Affinity Network (VAN) assured her that she would have the support to transfer offices and advance her career. They were right.
Through PwC’s VAN colleagues’ guidance, and the support of her NYC team, she found the perfect position in Raleigh and was able to work remotely as needed from Camp Lejeune. The Sartains have now moved to Washington, D.C., where Erika balances time between PwC’s offices, client offices and working remotely from home. Juggling care of their young son and her job is a challenge, but Erika has made of success of it.
“With an active duty husband, flexibility is especially important,” she says. “I know that wherever the Marine Corps sends us in the future, PwC will try to meet me there.” Erika says she has enormous pride in the firm and we are proud of her resilience and grateful for her contribution to the firm.
Alicia Bowman, PwC Learning & Development Manager in the Greater San Diego Area, and “proud Marine wife,” is passionate about helping co-workers “grow their own way.” She is an ideal role model. Along with her husband Matthew Bowman, a Captain in the United States Marine Corps, Alicia has moved four times over the last 10 years from locations in Texas to Washington, D.C. to Southern California -- continuously evolving her role in the firm along the way. The ability to work remotely 100 percent of the time has allowed her to cope with the challenges of life while her husband was deployed in Afghanistan, and as a new mother preparing for his upcoming deployment on a naval ship next year. It hasn’t been easy.
“Long distance relationships are tough and you’re always worried about your partner’s safety,” she says. “But, I’m confident that my team will support me through whatever we must go through as a military family.” We are confident that Alicia will continue to positively shape the future of our firm’s workforce from anywhere her family must travel.
I believe the most meaningful way to celebrate Memorial Day is to support others like Brendan, Erika and Alicia and their families every day of the year. So let’s enjoy the day off to spend time with our families and participate in the various celebrations — parades and picnics — and then let’s join together to spend the rest of the year working to ensure that veterans and their spouses have support and opportunities that honor their service and sacrifices, and that enable them to reach their full potential to positively impact our companies and communities across the U.S. and abroad.
Image credit: Andrew Pons/Unsplash
A former Marine Captain, Chris Crace now serves as Veterans Advocacy Leader for PwC.