Veterans at the bank

Sep 15, 2014

At Bank of America, supporting the military has been a focus for more than 90 years. An important part of this tradition is our commitment to hiring veterans, Guard and Reservists, recognizing the important skills and experiences they bring to our team. Each month, get to know a Bank of America employee who's served our country in the armed forces and help us recognize the veterans working at the bank.


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    Honoring Veteran Marine Kevin Baggott

    “Transitioning from military life to civilian life can be difficult,” says Kevin Baggott, who retired from the Marine Corps as a colonel after serving in every major U.S. combat operation since 1990. “I know firsthand how overwhelming it can be to go from one environment to another, not knowing where to start or what resources are out there.”

    But despite that initial difficulty, in the late 1990s Kevin successfully made the leap from active-duty military officer to member of the Bank of America team. In addition to his new role, Kevin continued to stay active in the military as a member of the Marine Corps Reserve while working at Bank of America, spending several years mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom beginning in 2005. During his leave of absence, he received care packages and encouragement from his Bank of America coworkers that he says helped keep the morale of both he and his fellow Marines high.

    After returning to the US, Kevin returned to work and eventually retired from the Marine Corps as a Colonel. His current role at Bank of America sees him spending time as a Learning Manager in Learning and Leadership Development, where he oversees the design and development of Military learning content and transition resources. Through this role Kevin and his team developed an industry-leading Military Transition Action Timeline, which helps veterans gather information they need to make important decisions about their future.

    Kevin is also an active Military Support & Assistance Group member where he spends time counseling veterans entering the corporate workforce. He tells them the same thing he always told his troops, “Be prepared, have a plan, and then execute it. That’s what I learned from the Marine Corps and it’s always served me well.”

    In his personal life, Kevin is a father of three teenagers and a proud husband to his active duty wife who is Lieutenant Colonel and Squadron Commander in the Air Force.

    Recognizing U.S. Army Veteran Breg Hughes

    Before he was a volunteer, a father, or a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, Breg Hughes spent nearly a decade putting his life on the line to serve his country as a member of the U.S. Army.

    An ROTC member during college, Breg began his service as an infantry officer in 2004. For the next six years he held positions that included mechanized infantry platoon leader, scout platoon leader, and battalion battle captain. In 2010 Breg joined the Special Forces, where he served for an additional four years as a Special Forces team leader and a company executive officer.

    During his service, Breg spent two tours in Iraq for a total of 26 months, as well as a tour in Afghanistan. In addition to his time in combat, Breg was stationed in both Germany and Okinawa.

    After leaving the service, he attended Chicago’s Booth School of Business in order to facilitate his transition from military to civilian life. From there he accepted a role at Merrill Lynch, where he helps run a comprehensive financial planning team, focused on discipline, process and accountability. Breg credits his service for strengthening his ability to organize and plan, and believes it provided crucial skills for his new role.

    Breg works closely with the Military Support & Assistance Group in Chicago, where he is in charge of approving and onboarding new members, as well as establishing initial communication with them. His group supports regular networking events for veterans at Bank of America, in addition to offering volunteer opportunities outside of the organization. Outside of Bank of America, Breg sits on the Veterans Leadership Council in Chicago, a professional networking group that works with and supports transitioning military veterans as they integrate into Chicago’s professional networks.

    Breg currently resides in Barrington, IL, where he spends his free time coaching and staying involved in his children’s activities.

    Highlighting U.S. Army Veteran Lindsey Melki

    “A desire to be a part of something bigger than myself.” That was the feeling that propelled Lindsey Melki on a path from her home in New Jersey to West Point and beyond.

    Raised by an Italian-American mother and an Israeli father who served as an I.D.F. tanker during the Six-Day War, Lindsey credits the values taught by her family for making her the woman she is today. Those values, combined with the offer of a free world class education, are what led to Lindsey’s enrollment at the prestigious United States Military Academy in 2000. During that time Lindsey says, “The world was as close to peace as we may see in our lifetimes.” The September 11 attacks would quickly change that.

    After graduation in 2004, Lindsey began a seven-year career as an Army Officer and Blackhawk helicopter pilot. The role took her to a variety of locations including parts of the southern United States, South Korea and Iraq. During the latter assignment, a 15-month stint in Baghdad, Lindsey served as a pilot and mission commander for 15 successful air-assault missions while logging over 500 combat flight hours.

    After returning to the United States, Lindsey earned Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Administration degrees from New York University in the spring of 2015. The following summer, she stayed in New York to begin full-time employment with Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Public Finance Investment Banking group — a role that allows her to work at the intersection of finance and policy.

    In addition to assisting with recruiting for the Bank of America’s Military Support & Assistance Group, Lindsey enjoys mentoring and working with veterans transitioning out of military service. She is also recognized as a Tillman Military Scholar, and serves as a board member for the Warrior Scholar Project. Lindsey currently resides in Brooklyn with her wife Julie.

    Spotlighting U.S. Navy Veteran Joy Asuncion

    Joy Asuncion’s story of military service started in 1972, during high school, when she made a decision to join the U.S. Navy. Her commitment to serve her country during the Vietnam War was not a popular path to take during that time. Joy did not let that deter her, and after graduation from high school, she joined the U.S. Navy with a friend as part of the “Buddy Program.” This program guaranteed they would go through boot camp together, but then they would go their separate ways.

    Her dad, who served in the Army during WWII, always encouraged her to serve in some way to help our country and to do her best in all she would decide to do. However, as a young woman specializing in information systems technology, it was hardly typical. During her first tour of duty at the Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal School, she supported the Training Director and got to see firsthand the critical mission of preparing our military, including Navy Seals, to succeed across the full range of military operations.

    During Joy’s 20-year career in the U.S. Navy, she started as a Seaman Apprentice (E-2) and retired with the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer (E-8). Joy was proud to have served in numerous leadership roles in support of many critical operational missions, and would do it again today if needed.

    Upon her retirement, she returned to her family and hometown of Belfast, Maine to start a second career, first with MBNA and now with Bank of America. Joy said “As a veteran, I feel it is important to keep serving our country by being involved with veteran organizations, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, and the American Legion—that support our active-duty troops and veterans.” Joy serves as a board member for the Maine Veteran Honor Flight Program, a Maine Troop Greeter, a volunteer at local veteran homes, and a veteran ministry leader at her church.

    Today, 20 years later at Bank of America, in her second career, she continues to focus on serving and giving back through the Bank of America Employee Network helping launch the Maine chapter of our Military Support and Assistance Group (MSAG) in 2008. She uses both her roles as a Corporate Recruiter and MSAG to attract and hire new employees with military backgrounds. As her team’s military champion, Joy was instrumental in helping them exceed their military hiring goal for 2015.

    Veterans at the Bank: Wes Pass

    The way Wes Pass tells it, he knew he was going to serve in the Marine Corps ever since he was in high school. Of course, coming from a military family, he had a unique understanding of military life. Wes’s father was an Army Special Forces soldier and his grandfather served nearly three years in WWII.

    “Our service has been my family’s way of thanking our country for the opportunities and freedoms we have been given,” explains Wes. “The fortuitous result of this service was that we emerged stronger, smarter and more prepared for the business side of our country’s egalitarian model.”

    As a senior at the Combat Marine Naval Academy, Wes was in the midst of writing his thesis on Osama bin Laden on September 11, 2001. He graduated during the height of the 9/11 response, eventually serving two tours in Iraq.

    Now that he’s a Merrill Lynch Client Manager for Global Commercial Banking in Health Care, Wes credits his military background with helping him keep business challenges in perspective. “Approaching difficult situations with a reasoned response and calmness…often helps de-escalate challenges.”

    Wes donates his free time to several nonprofits dedicated to veterans and at-risk youth, including Centerstone Military Services, Strong 4:13 and Leadership Health Care, where he serves as a board member. He is also dedicated to helping vets succeed at his Nashville-based office. “Within the firm, my efforts are mostly focused on helping recently transitioned veterans acclimate to our culture. The Bank has done an exceptional job with targeting and hiring this talented group of people. Maintaining their passion and pursuit of excellence after they step back into our culture is equally important.”

    Recognizing Navy veteran Dennis Covert

    Dennis Covert was only 18 years old when he enlisted in the Navy after high school, but the experience has stayed with him for a lifetime. “The military experience was a giant maturing experience,” says Dennis, who is now a Wealth Management Senior Consultant at Merrill Lynch in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “It really taught me accountability, responsibility, command structure – I think a veteran coming into business today has a lot to offer, and the military experience is just great for them.”

    Deployed twice to Vietnam during his service, Dennis eventually returned home to attend Ball State University on the GI Bill, studying business administration marketing. At the time, he had one goal in mind—to become a stockbroker for Merrill Lynch. As a recent graduate seeking a position, the company initially turned him down, citing his inexperience. Dennis was not easily deterred, however. “I think the military helped me – I was 2 years older and 10 years more mature [than my fellow graduates], and it really provided some structure for me. I decided I was going to do this, failure was not an option.” He has now been with the company for 42 years.

    A World War II history buff, Dennis donates his free time to Honor Flight of Fort Wayne, a nonprofit organization that flies WWII veterans to Washington DC to see their memorials. A board member, Dennis has personally donated over $100,000 for the organization that provides trips at no cost to the veterans. “It’s a major effort to take all these people to Washington and back in one day,” explains Dennis, however for this veteran—who has been fascinated with WWII history since he was a teenager—it’s a way to give back to those who came before him.

    Celebrating Robert Cloutier

    A model of professional consistency, Robert Cloutier has built his career at Bank of America over the course of the past two-plus decades, most recently within the role of Senior Operations Analyst in Corporate Accounts Payable in Providence, RI. More impressive, however, is Bob’s proud track record serving his country, as he has been a service member within the U.S. Army for the past 33 years and currently is an active member of the 43rd Military Police Brigade in the Rhode Island Army National Guard.

    From serving six years of active duty right out of high school to his most recent deployment in Afghanistan in 2011-12, Bob is thankful for the range of experiences he has gained. “My experiences in the military have helped me with my career at the bank in meeting deadlines, working under pressure, having greater attention to detail, an ability to multi-task, and being flexible and able to handle any situation head on,” Bob reflects.

    As a member of the Rhode Island chapter of the Military Support & Assistance Group (MSAG), Bob also gives back by collecting school supplies to donate to local children.

    Bob’s strength of character and skill is why Bank of America is committed to hiring 10,000 veterans, guard and reservists, and why his job has always been waiting for him. “The bank holding my position meant a lot to me and my family. With each deployment the stress levels were very high, but just knowing that the bank would hold my position for when I returned was one less thing I had to worry about.”

    Recognizing military mother Naomi Peden

    In her hometown of Cleveland, Naomi Peden is known as an Operations Consultant Officer with Bank of America’s National Mortgage Outreach program. However, there’s another important role she’s proud to call her own — that of mother to U.S. Army Sergeant Beverly Delk and Ohio Army National Guard Sergeant Robert Delk.

    “Being a military mom has made me more compassionate for others,” says Naomi. “You never know what someone is going through, so I don’t take things personally.” That compassion has served her well, whether she’s anxiously awaiting news on a potential new deployment for a family member or developing partnerships between Bank of America and nonprofits in New York.

    “Bank of America is a great company that provides you the tools to be successful in your role, as well as personal goals you may have,” says Naomi, who spends her downtime giving back to military families by contributing to various non-profit agencies. “When it comes to volunteering, I am passionate about two things: supporting our active and veteran troops, and educating people on how to manage their money better.”

    To learn more about developing better financial habits, visit Better Money Habits, where you can connect with members of our team and better understand your finances through objective and unbiased videos and tools.

    Honoring military spouse Dekiema Davis

    Bank of America and Working Mother Magazine are thrilled to recognize our very own Dekiema Davis as our 2014 Working Mother of the Year.

    Dekiema has been long recognized as an exemplary working mother, balancing her role as an administrative assistant with Bank of America and life at home in Virginia with three boys and her husband Carleton Davis, a Chief in the U.S. Navy. In addition to managing her active boys’ school and extracurricular schedules, Dekiema supports a team of seven based in the US, the United Kingdom and Singapore.

    While life as a military spouse is exciting, it comes with a unique set of challenges, including periods when her husband is deployed. The Pogue family has taken advantage of Bank of America’s Job Transition Program for military spouses, allowing Dekiema to maintain her role at the bank even as the family has relocated for her husband’s reassignments.

    Though daily life is remarkably full in the Pogue household, Dekiema has her eyes firmly set on the future. She spends her evenings working toward a degree in Occupational and Technical studies, and ultimately wants to pursue a career in instructional design. Dekiema credits the bank’s many employee support programs—including flex time, child care and tuition reimbursement—with helping her negotiate the delicate balance of being a mother, military spouse, and careerwoman.

    Ultimately, as Working Woman Magazine has acknowledged, Dekiema makes it all happen with an inspiring dose of tenacity and a whole lot of heart.

    Featuring U.S. Navy veteran Teresa Rooney

    As a member of the United States Navy for a decade, deployed on cruises in the Western Pacific Ocean and assignments in Europe, Teresa Rooney couldn’t have imagined that her civilian life would offer her the “opportunity to come full-circle.”

    Today, as Senior Vice President, Group Operations Manager for Military Banking, Teresa manages banking services for U.S. military service members for the Department of Defense in Europe. “I now have the opportunity to provide others in uniform the banking services that were once provided to me as a military service member and customer many years ago!”

    Though her military life was filled with “fascinating places, unexpected opportunities and deepening friendships with fellow military members,” Teresa describes her current role at Bank of America as equally enriching. “Post-military life is really about finding your niche and leveraging your core traits. I leveraged what I learned in the military, and continued to grow. As a consequence, my career at Bank of America has been everything that I ever hoped it could be.”

    Recognizing National Guard veteran David Martinez Romero

    Only 17 when he enlisted, David Martinez Romero went on to have a military career lasting six years in three countries—Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. A member of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn, David served as a communications securities specialist, creating encryptions and managing technological equipment for his National Guard Infantry Unit.

    Returning to civilian life in 2009, David had difficulty finding employment until landing a job as a 20-hour teller with Bank of America. Five years later, he is now a college graduate and personal banker at the Presidential Circle Financial Center in Hollywood, Florida. “I am grateful for Bank of America,” he says. “Every day, veterans struggle to get reacclimatized to the civilian world and for some reason employment is one of the hardest things to find in our situation. Bank of America really stands by their word when they say they hire veterans.”

    By supporting veterans, the company also benefits from their prior experiences. “My role in the military was vital to the success of my unit’s mission and the safety of my fellow soldiers,” explains David. “I took this experience with me when I came to work at Bank of America. Every customer interaction is looked at as a situation where their lives can be greatly affected. It is my job to ensure their transactions are processed without error and efficiently.”

    Recognizing Civil Affairs Officer Brian Love

    For the past 23 years and counting, Bank of America employee Brian Love has proudly served his country as a member of the U.S. Army and Army Reserves. Having deployed to a combat zone three times as a Civil Affairs Officer, Brian admits his experiences have been at times tough but always rewarding. Helping local citizens in Iraq and Afghanistan help themselves was a large component of Brian’s work, and when asked how these experiences have equipped his current role at Bank of America, Brian answers “Every problem has a solution, and the best one isn’t always mine.”

    As business support manager with the Reporting and Analytics Team for Loss Mitigation, Brian does just that. “I am currently working on a team that is centralizing and reducing the number of reports for Loss Mitigation. We are evaluating our entire reporting inventory by working with the coders and end users to determine what is being used and what can be retired. Often, we are finding that some reports do a lot of the same thing, but have been tailored for one specific investor or process step. Reducing the reporting volume will allow our Analysts to dive deeper into the numbers and provide the leadership an even more proactive decision matrix to accelerate the business forward.”

     An employee with the bank since 2008, he cites his experience with the Military Support & Assistance Group employee network (MSAG) transition program as being instrumental in the returning home process. “What I like best about being in the military is similar to what I like about working for the bank,” he states. “Just like the Army, Bank of America has a strong set of stated values that aren’t just a marketing scheme — they are how employees are expected to conduct themselves…and they do.”

    Spotlighting U.S. Army veteran LeMeshia Tuck

    Because she was involved in year-round athletics in high school, Bank of America employee LeMeshia Tuck never had the time to accrue experience in the workforce before graduating. By joining the U.S. Army directly from high school, however, LeMeshia gained five years of important experience and valuable skills, with station posts in South Carolina, Virginia and Oklahoma. These skills have helped shape her post-military life.

    “Not only did I receive the training I needed for employment after my military service, but also the skills needed to develop and nurture lasting relationships,” LeMeshia reflects. Since 2009, LeMeshia has been building such relationships as a Case Management Quality Analyst at Bank of America in Fort Worth, Texas, where she is responsible for monitoring loan modification processes, documenting quality issues, and providing information to assist in the feedback.

    “I love this company,” she attests. “It is by far one of the best companies I have worked for since leaving the military. The opportunities for growth and advancement are very widespread.”


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