The new president of the Office of Veterans and Military Affairs (OVMA) Advisory board, Richard M. (Rich) Jones ’92, G’95, L’95, believes that President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address is a call to action. He says that the most important obligation as a nation and as an academic community is to “[T]o take care of those who endured the battle. Jones says it’s this very commitment that has guided Syracuse University leaders for many decades and will shape the future for generations to come. “The idea of how best to support our veterans and military families is continually evolving,” Jones said. “Our country spends billions of dollars each year recruiting and training our young men and women in uniform. We must also be determined as they step out of uniform and enter the civilian workforce. “
Jones, who is Executive Vice President, General Tax Advisor and Director of Veterans at ViacomCBS, believes OVMA is uniquely positioned to create a broader and innovative support network for Veterans and their families, one that leverages the resources of the university as well as those of the public and private sectors.
“In my opinion, for the OVMA to have the greatest impact possible, we must, to use a military term, be hyper aware of the ‘conditions on the ground’, because the conditions affecting this generation of veterans in transition evolve in different ways. that we can’t even imagine and they will need our best thinking and support, ”he says.
Jones describes himself as a hardworking soldier who has never forgotten where he came from. He was a non-commissioned officer in the United States Army, where he served honorably as a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment and the 10th Mountain Division. “I still function like the staff sergeant I was: my head on a swivel, always looking 1,000 yards,” Jones says. “Our mission at Syracuse University is to provide world-class education. What should distinguish our approach to serving veteran students? What Syracuse does, which is so unique, is to complement classroom instruction with community, support, mentoring and life coaching and still provide the practical survival skills necessary for success in the workplace. civil and beyond.
Support and support
Jones gives Syracuse University credit for changing his life and providing the guidance, support and education he needed to successfully face the challenges of life after the military. After six years of service, he was medically withdrawn from the military after being seriously injured when his parachute malfunctioned during a training exercise. Jones was being treated at Syracuse VA Medical Center when he made the decision to cross Irving Street on crutches to campus and went to the office of Horace Landry, professor emeritus of accounting at the Whitman School of Management and former WWII fighter. . Jones says Landry’s real concern exemplifies the old adage that “everyone needs someone in their life to give them the courage to be what they’re meant to be.”
Jones went on to earn a Bachelor of Science (summa cum laude) as well as Law and Business (Honors) degrees from Syracuse University. He attributes to this chance encounter the triggering of the events that brought him to where he is today. “At a critical time in my life, Syracuse University literally helped me get back on my feet,” says Jones. “It gave me the gift of an exceptional education, allowed me to have a great career and, most importantly, the ability to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Despite all success, he never forgot how heartbreaking it was to end his military career and how difficult it was to overcome pain, physical limitations and trauma. It pushes him to help others, just as Professor Landry and the Syracuse University community have helped him, to come to the other side stronger and more empowered.
Jones works closely with many of the country’s most influential veterans service organizations to ensure that we honor the sacrifice of this generation of veterans and their families. He founded the ViacomCBS Veterans Network 13 years ago to provide mentorship, education, internships and economic empowerment to veterans. He considers it a great honor to serve as the Chief of Veterans at ViacomCBS where nearly 1,000 veterans are currently employed, bringing with them skills essential to military and corporate success, such as leadership, problem solving, work in the field. team and attention to detail.
“For us, it’s all about selfless service and quiet, impactful action,” Jones says. He quotes the Immersion program for veterans as an example of how companies can help veteran students with hands-on experience, career development workshops, professional development courses, and networking opportunities.
Thiéyacine Fall G’22, who is pursuing an MBA at Whitman School, is one of the interns in the program, working in the Global Sourcing department. Fall was an active-duty U.S. Army infantry soldier assigned to the 10th Mountain Division and deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. When he left service, he received an undergraduate degree from the Fordham University. “When I left the ward, I saw all these promotional promises: ‘Hire vets! Hire heroes! ‘ I thought if I graduated the doors would be open and the bonus would be plentiful, ”says Fall. “But the reality was there were no doors.”
Fall discovered the painful truth suffered by many veterans. Companies did not seem to value the skills they had developed on the battlefield.
Translate military skills
Janina Rios, another ViacomCBS intern and undergraduate student at Syracuse University, was also disheartened. The Army veteran had moved straight from high school to basic training, serving in the National Guard before sustaining an injury that forced her into medical retirement. “Everyone kept saying it was going to be easy, you served in the military,” says Rios. “But every time I applied for a job, I was told I didn’t have the qualifications.”
Looking back, Rios would have liked someone to help him translate his military skills into civilian language to improve his resume and interview skills. This is exactly what the programs at Syracuse University, OVMA, and the ViacomCBS Veterans Network can help. Rios, now majoring in Film Studies at the College of Visual and Performing Arts, edits content to create engaging videos. “The fact that I was selected for the internship in my first year and being able to connect with people who are extremely passionate about Veterans… there is a real love and care that you feel, as well as mentorship and understanding, ”says Rios.
Fall and Rios both say the biggest challenge for veterans transitioning to civilian life is the lack of structure. The internship program offers well-defined opportunities and a clearer path to professional success. “Rich Jones makes my roadmap easier for me,” Fall says. “And I would like to make this roadmap easier for other veterans.”
“We need to make sure we provide our veteran students with the mindset and the tools to navigate their transition,” Jones said. “This sums up the mission of the OVMA, its board of directors and this wonderful university community of Syracuse. We are privileged to continue this work, to honor a promise made decades ago and the unique opportunity to make a huge difference in the lives of transitioning Veterans and their families for generations to come.