Veterans at the bank

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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    Featuring Army Veteran Tom Cai

    As a high school senior in St. Louis, MO, Tom Cai felt his call to service after the tragedy of 9/11 shocked the nation. From that moment, he would devote his life to serving his country.

    Tom studied Economics at West Point and looked forward to serving in Army Aviation. Prior to attending flight school after graduation, Tom continued his post-graduate education at the University of Hawaii at Manoa through an East West Fellowship. After flight school, Tom would go on to serve in the 101st Airborne Division and 10th Mountain Division. Throughout Tom’s journey preparing for and serving in the military, he gained valuable leadership experience from working with others under high pressure, and in extreme situations.

    Tom’s commitment to others extended from serving his country, to his family when his son was born in 2015. After over 10 years of service and two tours in Afghanistan, Tom knew it was the perfect time to shift his career to focus on his family. Once deciding to transition from life as an Army helicopter pilot into his next career, he reached out to the veteran community for guidance. A mutual friend connected Tom with veteran Brian Jones, a fellow West Point alumnus and a Bank of America employee. A mentor/mentee relationship soon blossomed, and Tom found himself turning to Brian for career-path advice and civilian-life guidance.

    “I think one of the things that Brian was really able to help me do was figure out how to create my own career path” Tom explains. He found opportunity at Bank of America, and comfort in the pathways that veteran mentorship programs created for his civilian transition. Bank of America offers programs that allow veterans entering civilian life to gain a holistic view of roles they can pursue. By exploring these career pathways and roles that are perfectly suited for a veteran’s unique skills and experience, Tom successfully took on the transition to a civilian career.

    Even after leaving the military, Tom continues to help others and build a veteran community by mentoring other veterans, as Brian did for him. Through Brian and Bank of America, Tom has successfully transitioned into civilian life. He now utilizes his military expertise to carve out a career path on his terms.

    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.

    In 2017, The Veterans Leadership Council recognized Breg with their Veteran Impact Award for his leadership, achievements and military service. He now serves as co-president for the professional networking group that works with and supports transitioning military veterans as they integrate into Chicago’s professional networks.

    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 Navy Veteran Lanän Clark

    “There’s nothing that moves my spirit more than impacting the lives of others.” Lanän Clark has lived this philosophy all her life, serving her country for eight years in the United States Navy Reserve before taking on her current role at Merrill Lynch.

    Following in the footsteps of her Navy officer father, Lanän joined the Navy Reserve during her freshman year of college to help ease her transition away from home and to build structure into her life. After college, Lanän and her unit were tasked with supplying necessary supplies to her shipmates who were deployed in the Gulf. Lanän was stationed at Naval Air Stations in Pensacola, Florida, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and Yokosuka, Japan.

    Today, Lanän is the Vice President and Practice Management Consultant for the Southwest Division of Merrill Lynch. In this role, Lanän serves as a productivity coach, helping advisors and leaders manage more successful practices by adapting behaviors designed to optimize the practice and client experiences. Lanän believes her time in the service plays an instrumental role in the way she views her work, and she cites the Navy’s mantra of honor, courage and commitment as not just a slogan, but an approach to life. Serving in the Navy taught Lanän the value in working as a team with individuals from different backgrounds and points of view. In her work, Lanän works hard to build trust with her colleagues and to understand the talents that each brings to the team.

    Outside of her role with Merrill Lynch, Lanän volunteers as a coach for Working Wardrobes’ VetNet program, where she spends time each month taking vets through a trust-building workshop as they work to get back on their feet. Additionally, she has spent the last six years hosting a Bible study for middle-school girls.

    Currently, Lanän lives in Southern California, where she enjoys spending time with her family, journaling, and cheering on her children’s sports teams.

    Spotlighting Military Veteran Stu Burns

    For Stu Burns, the time he spent serving in the United States Marine Corps had an enormous influence on the man he is today: “I think those values of teamwork and sense of mission are very important. The military is a great place to learn leadership, because you’re surrounded by great leaders every day.”

    Originally from Chicago, Stu moved to Arizona to attend Arizona State University, where he graduated with a degree in Criminal Justice and Political Science in 1995. Prior to beginning his work with Bank of America in 2003, Stu served 8 years in the military, and was deployed during Operation Desert Storm.

    Today, Stu works as a Consumer Product Strategic Analyst in Consumer Credit Borrowing Strategies. Prior to his current role, Stu was a team leader in Existing Customer Credit, where he oversaw a split team of Credit Risk Analysts and SAR Analysts. Stu also combines his passion for financial literacy and veterans by teaching financial literacy to Wounded Warrior Project workshops and is currently working with US Vets to teach Better Money Habits.

    Additionally, Stu is the co-chair for the Arizona Chapter of the Military Support and Assistance Group, where he coordinates with a national team for enterprise programs like military onboarding and transitioning. Stu’s chapter focuses on military causes such as Arizona StandDown, Wounded Warrior Project and others. Because of this work, Stu was also asked to serve as a representative of Bank of America on the Phoenix VA Voluntary Services Committee. In recognition of his commitment and work, Stu received the Bank of America 2016 Global Volunteer Award.

    Currently, Stu lives in Phoenix, AZ, where he enjoys running, rooting for Chicago sports teams and spending time with his wife.

    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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