Around 200 guests attended an event hosted by Veterans on Wall Street (VOWS) and JP Morgan Chase (JPMC) in Manhattan on June 27, 2019. The annual event pits Veterans with Veteran-centric business leaders from the financial services industry to network and share ideas, and this year featured special guests, including Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia and former Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Carlton Wayne Kent.

In an effort to honor military personnel and Veterans, Veterans On Wall Street works to foster career and business opportunities in the financial services industry. VOWS achieves these goals with educational initiatives, mentoring, and outreach to military and Veteran employee affinity groups.

VOWS recognizes that Veterans often bring leadership and decision-making skills, and a mission-driven focus.

This is why, according to their website, “VOWS works with military organizations, Veterans groups, industry associations, and vendors to build awareness and understanding of how these skills and cultural attributes make military Veterans outstanding employees.”

When introducing Mark Elliott, the head of JP Morgan Chase’s Military and Veterans Affairs Program, Wesley DeMauro, Executive Director at JPMC, observed that this program has “…brought together a broad coalition of over 200 companies since 2011 that has hired over 500,000 Veterans at this point. We started out with a goal of 100,000.”

Elliott, Bellavia, and Kent share a laugh over SSG Bellavia's observation that, "the Command Sergeant Major of the US Marine Corps said we were going to stand so we are standing. That's why." (photo by Joe Vericker)

Elliott, Bellavia, and Kent share a laugh over SSG Bellavia’s observation that, “the Sergeant Major of the US Marine Corps said we were going to stand so we are standing. That’s why.” (photo by Joe Vericker)

Bellavia, a native of Buffalo, New York, was awarded the Medal of Honor on June 25th for his actions at the Second Battle of Fallujah. When his Silver Star was upgraded to the Medal of Honor, he became the sole surviving Medal of Honor recipient from the Iraq War.

After leaving the military in 2005, Bellavia was inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame, and in 2007, with John Bruning, co-authored, “House to House: A Soldier’s Memoir.” He’s currently working on a second book.

Carlton Kent shared motivational comments of his time as a Marine as well as his personal history with Bellavia. Kent served as the 16th Sergeant Major of the United States Marine Corps and retired in 2011.

“It doesn’t matter if you are junior or senior in rank when you transition out,” Kent said. “You are so used to having a team, you are so used to knowing that the person to your right, to your left, to your front and rear–they have your back 24 hours a day. And when I transitioned out I had that same attitude.”

He went on to say that this is not always what we find in the civilian world, but employers can count on this being something Veterans will bring to their organizations.

“Veterans don’t like to come into a company just to be a number first of all. They want to feel like they are doing something bigger than themselves. They are not content to just come in and fill a seat, they want to make a difference.”- former Sergeant Major of the United States Marine Corps, Carlton Wayne Kent

Most of the conversation was business, but there were lighthearted moments as well.

At one point, everyone was standing, idly, unsure why they hadn’t seated. Bellavia observed that “The Sergeant Major of the U.S. Marine Corps said we were going to stand, so we are standing. That’s why.”

For more information on Veterans on Wall Street (VOWS), visit:

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Published on Jul. 9, 2019

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