Veterans Day Q&A: A Sit Down with Comcast’s James Casson

Comcast employees and Veterans at the 2018 VetNet Veterans Day Breakfast

Comcast is one of the most active organizations in Washington state when it comes to its work with veterans and veteran organizations. That work is fueled from the inside out and driven primarily by our VetNet Employees Resource Group, which supports our efforts in veteran hiring, employee support and training, and drives our work to support veterans throughout the community.

In honor of Veterans Day, we sat down with one of the founding members and leaders of Comcast Washington VetNet, to learn more about how our company supports this important group of people and their families.

Tell me about yourself and your background?
I am, Master Sergeant James Casson RET, I served in the Army for almost twenty years and have been working for Comcast for two decades.

Tell me about your experience as a veteran working for Comcast?
I Joined the Comcast family in 1999 as an Installation and Repair Technician. Shortly afterward, I was given an opportunity to partner with the Comcast recruiters to attend military hiring events for Joint Base Lewis-McCord to help understand the characteristics and duties of a soldier (Military Occupational Skills).

Many soldiers exiting the military prepare their resumes and tailor their verbal communications styles based on a military format, which does not always accentuate the intricacies of their duties. Being able to understand the value of the experience veterans would bring to the company by asking the right questions is imperative when making a connection.

Comcast recognized that this was a missed opportunity. So, they began reaching out to myself and other veterans to help the company better understand what they can do when interviewing, and how to best acclimate new veterans into the company.

In 2014, this role grew, when our Senior Leadership Team asked me to assist with the establishment and launch of the first Washington Region Comcast Veterans Network (VetNet) Chapter.

I served as Chief of Operations for two years and helped find and appoint VetNet representation for each office across Washington to grow employee membership statewide.

Do you work with other Veteran Community Groups?
Outside of my work with the VetNet ERG team, I am also actively involved with supporting the American Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, and Veterans of Foreign Wars community groups.

What Do You Want People To Know About the VetNet Employee Resource Group?
We are a diverse group of Comcast employees comprised of veterans, family members of veterans and people who share a common goal of supporting our military communities.

Comcast senior leadership empowers us to meet the needs of veteran new-hires, which includes help with interpreting responsibilities, adjusting to their new roles, and assisting in career progressions. Even before they are hired, we also support veterans with things like resume and interview preparation, so they can show how their roles in the military make them a great fit for the job.

I also want people to know that we are a group dedicated to supporting the greater veteran community, regardless of their affiliation with Comcast. We partnered with local Boy Scout troops to hand make over 150 blankets for veterans. During the Holidays, we adopt military families and families of disabled veterans (providing them with resources and gifts). And, we support the annual Travis Manion 911 Heroes charity runs.

We’ve also engaged in landscaping and small building projects for veteran soldiers’ homes throughout the state, and host a yearly Veterans Day appreciation breakfast for veteran employees, community partners and others supporters.

What are some of the top roadblocks veterans face in the hiring process?
One obstacle is an inability to decipher the military occupational skills (MOS). Time limitations to fill job positions often prevent employers from probing during interviews to get details about skills acquired during military service. This can cause companies to miss opportunities to hire talented veterans.

Disabilities ranging from minor impairment such as hearing loss to more serious physical or psychological limitations can also be something that affects veteran hiring. Some employers –although they will not openly say due to employment practices laws – are hesitant to hire veterans due to suspicions of disabilities. Accommodating necessary arrangements to support disabilities can affect productivity, resulting in an impact to the business’ bottom line.

Another roadblock for veteran employment is that employers sometimes pass on the opportunity to hire senior ranking veterans because they feel the veteran has too much experience for the positions they are trying to fill. This can lead to hiring managers being concerned that the prospective hire may be asking for compensation beyond the target salary.

The impact of these types of biases on a veteran and their family can be severe. It can also create hardships such as, an inability to provide adequate financial support for the family, marital complications, low self-esteem and self-worth, and can lead to these individuals to become withdrawn or secluded.

What would you want other Veterans in Washington to know about Comcast?
Comcast cares about veterans and their families and is a company committed to supporting the veteran community. Comcast is also committed to supporting employees actively serving in the military; Active/ Reserve/Gard units.

If you want to learn and grow, they offer in-house job training programs and tuition assistance for continued education, so you can truly advance your career.

This is a company that is also tremendously dedicated to understanding the unique traits veterans offer, and bridging the gap between military and civilians sectors, to set you up for success as soon as you walk in the door.

We also are very active and open when it comes to working with the entire veteran community. We have great relationships and work with other organizations like Bunker labs, AMVETS, DAV, American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars too.

Ultimately, all these things make me proud to be a Comcast employee. The support I received from the Comcast family during my transition from the military and throughout my tenure has been second to none.

This company has a deep respect for veterans and they believe in us, and they continue to invest in our community. This month, we also announced a new goal of hiring 21,000 veterans by 2021 – the 21-21 Commitment.

I look forward to seeing what we do next to support our veterans and being a part of that effort in 2019 and beyond.

James Casson, Comcast WA VetNet Leader

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