Support for military veterans and families is a pillar of Raytheon Technologies’ Connect Up initiative — and a longstanding part of the company’s culture.
Employees regularly volunteer with Raytheon Technologies’ military-focused partner organizations, and they do so for a variety of reasons. Many are among the 15,000 veterans who work for the company. Some are members of military families. And some are simply civilians who want to help.
The agencies they support are solving some of the most critical problems military families and veterans face.
Brian Keith sought out a few volunteer opportunities when he started at Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business. One of them hit especially close to home.
Keith, who served eight years in the U.S. Army before joining Collins in 2020, spent a Thursday morning at the Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center in Colorado Springs, where he and his colleagues packed bag after bag with granola bars, canned goods and boxes of macaroni and cheese, then loaded them into more than 100 waiting cars.
“There were a lot of different emotions with a lot of people,” said Keith, a former Black Hawk helicopter pilot who now works as a program manager on interiors for military aircraft. “A lot of people were really thankful and it was awesome.”
The food distribution marked the beginning of Raytheon Technologies’ recent effort to provide food security for military families. The company has expanded its partnership with Feeding America through a three-year, $3 million investment in the nonprofit’s Equitable Food Access and Military Hunger Advocacy initiatives.
- Helps food banks across the U.S. distribute nutritious food to communities most in need, including military communities.
- Enables these food banks to start or expand local programs to act on racial and geographical barriers to food access.
- Helps food banks identify legislative solutions and work with lawmakers to address hunger among military families.
For Keith, who now serves in the U.S. Army Reserves, it’s a way to continue supporting his fellow service members as he did when he was in the military full-time.
“I’ve seen a lot of people who got out and are having financial issues,” he said. “There are definitely a lot of people affected and I think it’s really important to support veterans. I would do that for any of my brothers in arms.”
Charles Moore stood before about 100 fellow military veterans and reminded them why companies like Raytheon Technologies like to hire them.
“We all understand the value of a mission,” Moore, a U.S. Army veteran and a program director at Raytheon Missiles & Defense, told the Student Veterans of America annual leadership forum in Washington, D.C. Later, in an interview, he elaborated: “Our company’s perspective is: ‘Who out there can relate to our mission better than a veteran?’ Nobody. The voice of the warfighter — the customer — that’s the voice of the veteran.”
One path to employment is through higher education. That’s part of the reason Raytheon Technologies has a strategic partnership with Student Veterans of America, which helps members transition out of the military, into the classroom and on to new careers.
Raytheon Technologies employees support student veterans of all ages through in-person and virtual mentoring sessions, networking opportunities, resume workshops and job interview prep sessions.
Through this partnership, Raytheon Technologies also sponsors two annual scholarships for student veterans:
- The Raytheon Patriot Scholarship awards two $10,000 scholarships exclusively to U.S. Army veterans. The scholarship is named for the Patriot Air and Missile Defense System produced by Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business.
- The SPY-6 Scholarship, named for the U.S. Navy’s SPY-6 family of radars, awards two $10,000 scholarships to Navy veterans and reservists.
For Moore, a self-admitted perpetual student who is pursuing a doctorate degree in engineering, education is vital in helping veterans define the next stage of their lives — no matter their situation after separating from the service.
“Veterans get used to change — it’s part of who they are — and every veteran has a story,” said Moore, who also chairs Raytheon Technologies’ employee resource group for veterans and their advocates. “You have student veterans who were homeless, or full-time employees somewhere else, or full-time parents. Now, they’re trying to pause and figure out their life and how they transition into the workforce.”
Michele Ianni never served in the military. But when she saw a chance to help veterans and spouses make the switch to civilian life, she knew right away she wanted to help.
Ianni, who works in finance for Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business, was reading a company newsletter when she saw an item about American Corporate Partners. The nonprofit, a strategic partner in Raytheon Technologies’ Connect Up initiative, matches people transitioning out of military life with civilian mentors who help them build their resumes and pursue new careers.
For Ianni, whose grandfather served in World War II and who has seen friends balance their careers with the demands of a military family, volunteering as a mentor is a way to show respect.
“There’s perhaps a deeper connection or understanding if someone has a military background,” she said, “but if you don’t, it’s still a way of showing your gratitude. It’s also just about building up people. That’s what I enjoy the most.”
Ianni specializes in mentoring military spouses and has helped three women navigate their family’s transition to civilian life. In those cases, she has shown them that even when they’ve been away from the workforce, they’re still well qualified.
“If you can pick up your family and move your entire life in short order without knowing a lot of details and having to figure things out as you go,” Ianni said, “how is that not project management?”
It’s rewarding to watch people grow, she said. The first woman she mentored is showing more confidence, has built a professional network and has settled into a full-time career.
“I was so proud of her,” Ianni said. “And so happy for her. It was kind of like seeing a family member succeed.”
Logan Brooks is a lifelong civilian, but he always wanted to fly for the U.S. Air Force.
He even took the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test — and aced it. But the timing was off. He and his wife were starting a family, so rather than joining the service, he did the next best thing: He worked on the software that V-22 Osprey pilots depend on to meet their missions and make it home.
“I spent a lot of my early career at Edwards Air Force Base,” in California, said Brooks, now the software quality director at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business. “I like going and talking to the pilots because I live vicariously through them.”
That admiration is part of the reason he volunteers with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit where military veterans and civilians work side-by-side on public service projects. For the veterans, it’s a chance to bond with fellow former service members, continue working toward a common good and grow their professional networks.
“It’s a genius idea — tapping into that dynamic to empower veterans with a new mission and a chance to build bonds,” Brooks said.
And, as he’ll tell you, it’s also a solid workout. At least it was when he and his wife volunteered for what they thought was a trail cleanup at Palmer Park in Colorado Springs.
“We thought we were going to be picking up litter,” he said. “When we got there, it was a whole set of tools — picks, axes, rakes, crowbars. And we’re like, ‘OK, we’re not picking up litter today.’”
Instead, they helped re-grade a section of trail, working in small teams that divided the project into specific tasks. While they worked, Brooks said, the veterans got to talking.
“They’ve never met before in some instances, but you hear them say ‘I served here’ or ‘we helped with that.’ That’s a large piece of it, getting to meet other veterans,” Brooks said.
He even met a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Space Force and described working in the defense industry, developing technology that helps active-duty military do their jobs. That’s another benefit of the program, Brooks said — to show veterans that, even after the service, there are all kinds of missions left to accomplish.
Ricardo Figueroa isn’t usually much of a runner. But when running helps his fellow military veterans — and the organization that came to his aid when he separated from the U.S. Navy — he never hesitates to lace up.
Figueroa is a regular participant in the Run to Home Base, an annual 5K and 9K run/walk in Boston. The race, which finishes at home plate inside Fenway Park, is the flagship event for Home Base, a national nonprofit that provides clinical care, wellness services, education and research for military members and their families.
When Figueroa separated from the Navy in 2013, Home Base helped him manage post-traumatic stress and the transition to civilian life. He recalled applying for what felt like hundreds of civilian jobs, and even when he found one, his family had to go through the stress of yet another relocation.
The first person Figueroa spoke with at Home Base was a U.S. Marine who listened to his story and told him about other people who were going through the same thing. Figueroa said it was refreshing to know he wasn’t alone.
So it’s easy to see why he gets choked up at the finish line, as he did when he first ran in 2018 and saw Raytheon Technologies colleagues cheering him on.
“Putting it all together, being at Fenway Park and touching home base was the most amazing moment,” said Figueroa, who works in IT for Raytheon Missiles & Defense, a Raytheon Technologies business. “It was like everything I experienced in the service, somebody was listening, somebody felt it, and somebody was helped because of all the work we did.”
Moments like those, Figueroa said, make the event much more than a race.
“It’s a feeling of wanting to be better and knowing that you can be better,” he said. “Tomorrow can be better by just calling somebody or reaching out to Home Base and getting the help that you need.”