2016 VETLANTA Year in Review

2016 VETLANTA Summit Hosted by TurnerAs 2016 winds down, I’d like to take the opportunity to wish all VETLANTA members a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year and to thank you for the contributions you’ve made to VETLANTA and to the veteran community as a whole throughout the year.

It’s been an incredible year for VETLANTA full of challenges and accomplishments. This year we once again saw tremendous growth in the club. If we had the foresight to accomplish a 10 year plan when we first started VETLANTA three years ago, the progress we made this year would have likely far exceeded those long range plans. I’d like to take this opportunity to review 2016, provide updates on recent progress and cover our plans for next year.

The core of VETLANTA collaboration is our quarterly summits. If you haven’t attended a summit in a while, you are going to be very impressed with the professionalism, size & scope and the amazing opportunity available to network with veterans, members from small, medium and large businesses, non-profit organizations, academia and government. Our average summit attendance has increased from 50 attendees in 2014 to 125 in 2015 to over 275 this year.

Our first summit of the year was hosted by Turner at their corporate headquarters on January 27th. This was an extremely busy summit with presentations from Turner, Sun Trust, Georgia Tech, Coca-Cola, ESGR, Home Depot, Kimberly Clark Corporation, VYD & Associates, UPS, First Data, Southern Company/Georgia Power, Eaton, Lockheed Martin, ADP, Accenture, JWT, Deloitte, McKesson and the Georgia National Guard. My reflection on the summit was the incredible number of examples of how industry is partnering with non-profits and the government to make an impact in our community. It’s clear that with our resources, passion, dedication and collaboration, we can make Atlanta the top destination for Veterans. Having a summit at Turner was a great honor as they are a staple of Atlanta and the Turner team planned and executed this summit with military precision. Thanks to Turner for their warm hospitality.

Download Year in Review PDF





NATIONAL BUSINESS PLAN COMPETITION open to veteran entrepreneurs! $100K IN PRIZES

On behalf of the IVMF, we are thrilled to present the VetSmallBiz Growth Challenge a Business Plan Competition developed for veteran entrepreneurs who are ready to take their business to the next level.  This unique competition offers elite growth and pitch coaching prior to the competition finals.  Winners will receive exposure to a distinguished judging panel, access to capital – $100K in total to be awarded – and three months of individualized coaching.  This Challenge is offered through the generous support of The Marcus Foundation.

1st – 
2nd – 
3rd – 
Best Venture Impacting Veterans –
Most Innovative –
Best Social Venture –
Semifinalists – 
Pitch Coaching
Finalists – 
Growth Coaching

Applications will be accepted through December 18th.

Georgia Aquarium
225 Baker St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30313
Friday, March 3, 2017, 8:00 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Open to U.S. service member and veteran entrepreneurs of all eras of service.

What to Expect: Over the course of this challenge, semifinalists will receive three weeks of elite growth coaching with their fellow competitors in an online group setting before they get to the finale, and winners will receive three months of growth coaching after the competition comes to a close.  The finale is a one-day challenge event that will expose the finalists to a distinguished group of judges and the opportunity to learn from each other during their 20-minute venture pitch round.

Learn more and apply at https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/veteran-and-family-resources/vetsmallbiz-growth-challenge/

Event Contact: Kim Street, Program Manager, kmstreet@syr.edu, (315) 443-9512

UPS Veteran Owned Business (VOB) Summit 2016 – Registration Now Open

We will be hosting our second Veteran Owned Business (VOB) Summit. Last year’s event was on Suppler Diversity best practices. This year’s theme is: “Technology is both an enabling and disruptive force for businesses, what you need to know to stay competitive”.

Come hear from some of today’s thought leaders and see examples of how technology is transforming business and industry. We will also have some great guest speakers and demos of some interesting technologies available today and time for networking.

WHEN:  September 7 @ 1:00 pm6:00 pm

WHERE:  UPS HQ, 55 Glenlake Parkway, Atlanta, GA

WHO:  Any US Military Veteran who is the principle owner of their business

SPONSORS:  VETLANTA Entrepreneurial Center of Excellence (VECOE) and the UPS Veterans Business Resource Group

VETLANTA Q2 2016 Newsletter


Click to download the Q2 2016 Newsletter in PDF format

The Executive Committee; Lloyd Knight, John W. Phillips, Shreve Gould, Matt Grob, and Krista deKryger would like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a great summer and thank you for your efforts to make Atlanta a top destination for veterans.

We are very excited to announce we have added a fifth position to the VETLANTA Executive Committee and have selected Krista deKryger to serve as our Director of Communications.  Krista is highly experienced in the veteran support and volunteer space having served as a Transition Specialist for the USMC; Director of the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Presidential Learning Center; Business Manager & Executive Director for Instructional Initiatives at Uncommon Leadership; Vice President Education Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum; Marine Spouse, volunteer for Warrior2Citizen and Hire Heroes USA.  Krista will primarily be focused on internal and external communications including improving our social media presence.

For those of you who weren’t able to attend Q2 Summit you missed a great event.  We had over 250 people from 90 organizations in attendance.  First and foremost, we want to thank KPMG for stepping up to host the event and for their wonderful hospitality.  Thank you to Ken Koch, Lauren Justice, Regina Mayor, the KPMG Volunteers and the Twelve Hotel staff.

The Q2 Summit was focused on veteran affiliated non-profits.  When we first started VETLANTA, we were primarily focused on learning best practices from veteran employee groups representing several Fortune 100 companies across Atlanta.  One of the primary topics of discussion in those early meetings was veteran affiliated non-profits.  As veteran advocates within our companies, most of us are constantly being engaged by non-profits.   These interactions are sometimes good and sometimes not so good.  If you were at the Q2 Summit in 2015 you might remember our presentation titled: Non-Profits, the GOOD, the BAD and the UGLY.  The theme of the presentation was to remind our members to do their homework as not all non-profits are effective or efficient and some aren’t even legitimate, so before you give a dollar of your money or a second of your time, do your research.

At the Q2 Summit last year we had 15 non-profits present.  The ones that were successful in seeing the benefits of VETLANTA were the groups that recognized the summit as an opportunity to establish grass roots support with our members.  The ones that didn’t see benefit were those that immediately asked for that big check and were never seen or heard from again once it didn’t pan out.  For this summit, we once again welcomed non-profits.  We had 28 non-profits request to participate and it was a tough task narrowing the field down to 10 to present and 20 to set up informational tables.   The presentations were better than ever and the informational tables were a huge success and something we look forward to doing again in the future.   The VETLANTA Executive Committee would like to thank all of the organizations for participating and for your service to veterans.


Our Military 101 initiative has been slow to get off the ground however we’ve made real progress over the last month.  Major Chris Dupuis, Air Force officer assigned to UPS under the Education With Industry Program, has taken the lead and has completed much of the presentation.  Unfortunately, Chris’s Education With Industry assignment ends in July and he will be relocating to Langley AFB.  We are looking for a program manager that can work with Chris on the development and take the lead in fielding the training.  If you are interested, please let us know.

The Q3 Summit will be held on August 11th at UPS Corporate Headquarters in Sandy Springs.  The event will be located  in our corporate café and will largely retire the projector for the evening.  We are working on some great guest speakers.  We have tentative commitments from remarkable individuals including acting Secretary of the Army,  Patrick Murphy;  Jared Ogden, a former Navy Seal, Phoenix Patriot Foundation Founder and also a star of Ultimate Survival Alaska and Wayne Waddy Waddell, Retired Air Force Colonel and Vietnam War POW .

VETLANTA also supported a transitioning veteran’s event in cooperation with UPS, American Corporate Partners, Hire Heroes USA and Grant McGarry.   UPS welcomed 50 veterans and spouses plus 50 volunteers at its corporate headquarters on April 20th.  Hire Heroes USA conducted a half day transition workshop and Grant McGarry was the key note speaker.  Grant is an Army Ranger Veteran and author of A Night in the Pech Valley.

The book is his account of what it takes to become an Army Ranger and what life is like to be in the 75th Ranger Regiment.  More importantly it is about an operation in the most dangerous terrain for U.S. forces anywhere in the world. The Pech Valley is surrounded by Taliban-filled mountains on the Pakistan border in the Kunar Province, where the mountain peaks push ten thousand feet. On the night of August 18, 2010 a platoon of Army Rangers were on a direct action raid to capture or kill a high value target and this is the story of the Rangers who ferociously fought through the night and into the next morning.  A Night in the Pech Valley is dedicated to Army Ranger, SPC. Christopher Shane Wright, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the Pech Valley on the morning of August 19th, 2010.

After Grant’s comments we had a ninety minute networking session to give transitioning veterans and spouses ample opportunities to network with VETLANTA members.  We then re-grouped and spent 90 minutes in a panel discussion.  During the panel we covered a wide variety of topics including; building a personal brand, resumes, job interviews, follow-up, translating military skills, transitioning challenges, pitfalls and networking.  The panel consisted of a wide breath of senior leadership from across the greater Atlanta area.


At the event, ACP’s Founder and Chairman Sid Goodfriend presented the ACP Award for Excellence in Veteran Engagement and Integration to the Chairman and CEO of UPS, David Abney, at the UPS World Headquarters in Atlanta, GA. This award is given to a company and its Chief Executive Officer who lead by example in the recruiting, hiring, training and retention of returning U.S. veterans so they may develop lasting careers.

VETLANTA would like to thank UPS and its employees including CEO David Abney, the panelists, Sid GoodFriend, Hire Heroes USA, and American Corporate Partners. Special thanks to Kevin Horgan, Maria Flowers and Loray Thompson for coordinating the logistics.

Southern Company/Georgia Power is scheduled to host the Q4 Summit at their headquarters in Atlanta at the end of October.  Please contact the executive committee if your company is interested in hosting a summit in 2017.  Hosts are required to offer a venue to host at least 200 guests, an event coordinator and provide snacks.  UPS in partnership with VETLANTA will be hosting a Veteran Owned Business Summit on September 6th at its corporate headquarters in Sandy Springs.   For additional information, contact Brian Wolfe at Bwolfe@ups.com.

Let’s move on to a review of our strategy.  For those of you who are just getting to know VETLANTA, we are a fairly new organization.  We had our very first meeting at Coca-Cola just a little over two years ago and a slew of meetings throughout 2014 before becoming an official club in the fall of that year.  We had four official summits in 2015 and we will have four this year.  We have seen significant growth in a short period of time and this growth has provided a substantial amount of momentum that has helped support several causes over the last two years however we want to have a bigger impact in making Atlanta a top destination for veterans.

The Evolution of VETLANTA

The Executive Committee is charged in ensuring this momentum equals action and the action equals impact.  Over the last several quarters, we have had many, many meetings with outside organizations to discuss strategy.  There are too many groups to name them all however I’d like to personally thank Marshall Lauck and JWT for providing some solid guidance and support.

From these meetings, we have formulated a revised strategy.  This strategy is still in the planning stages and we will continue to develop it in the next several months, targeting implementation in the next several quarters.  Our strategy theme is Seven Pillars of VETLANTA.

7 Pillars of VETLANTA

These seven pillars represent the areas of emphasis in the Veterans’ community.  None alone hold up the structure and all must rely upon each other.  Each entity has their particular core competencies, and providing holistic support to our Veterans and our military families requires each entity working together.  In this spirit, and in the demonstrated spirit of VETLANTA’s chartered mission of fostering collaboration, our strategy aims to mass and align the organizational efforts of all the major elements in this ecosystem: For-Profit Employers, Non-Profit Organizations, Government Agencies, and Institutions of Higher Learning.

In our Q2 Summit, we unveiled this basic framework and look for organizations to lead these Pillars in their respective areas of emphasis.  We look for volunteers to emerge and sign up to help us shape these Pillars and lead them for an initial two year term.  We would like to have these Pillars structured and operational by the end of 2016.  We will be looking for volunteer organizations to sign up and lead each of the pillars.

Building on the momentum we have gained over the last year, to borrow an old cliché…the time has come to raise the bar for VETLANTA! To that end, we must understand what the REAL business benefit is to member Companies in belonging to VETLANTA. What is the true value proposition of why a particular Company…small, medium or large…wants to be associated or affiliated with VETLANTA. Taking this even a step further, when you consider how VETLANTA has evolved over the last couple of years, we also need to include in this research all governmental (State and Federal), non-profit and institutions of higher education. Some thought starters are:

  • Veteran/Military Hiring
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Employee Business Resource Groups
  • Veteran Retention
  • Veteran/Military Employment
  • Networking/Fellowship
  • Business Development
  • Education…The Value of a Veteran

In wrapping up the Q2 Summit, John asked each of you to think about this and to participate in a survey that we will be sending out to each of you. We want to hear back from you. It is the only way we know if we are on the right track and to make sure VETLANTA truly “answers the call” not only for our members Companies and agencies that comprise the organization, but for the many Veterans and military families we have in and around the Atlanta area that we can help.

We look forward to seeing you all at the Q3 Summit on August 11th at UPS Corporate Headquarters in Sandy Springs.  Look for additional details on our website (www.vetlanta.org) or on our LinkedIn VETLANTA group.

Memorial Day is an important day in America and often overlooked by many in our country.   Memorial Day is our nation’s opportunity to pay tribute and remember those men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  Thank you VETLANTA for all you do on Memorial Day and the other 364 days of the year to honor our nations veterans past and present.

 “But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate– we cannot hallow– this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln (Extract from the Gettysburg Address)

Click to download the Q2 2016 Newsletter in PDF format


Q2 VETLANTA Summit Planning: Non-Profit Application

Host: KPMG

Who: Veteran affiliated non-profit Companies. VETLANTA would love to be able to accommodate 100% of the speaking request, however time and logistics doesn’t make this possible. We are proud to offer 10 non-profits the opportunity to present (8 minutes per presentation) and up to another 20 to set up and staff information tables in the networking area. We have a full hour of networking built into the agenda so there will be ample opportunity to educate the attendees on your non-profit organization.

What: This summits focus is non-profits and specifically how their mission fits into making Atlanta a top destination for veterans

When: April 12th from 6PM – 9:15PM

Where: Twelve Hotel Ballroom in Atlantic Station

The Selection Process

  • If your organization is interested in presenting or setting up an info table, please complete this application and email it to Lloyd Knight at Lloyd.knight@yahoo.com by noon on March 26th.
  • The VETLANTA Executive Committee will be selecting the participating non-profits and announcing selections NLT, Friday, April 1st.
  • Invitations to attend the event will be sent NLT March 12th so please ensure you also register for the event if you plan on attending.
Download the Application (Fillable PDF)

VETLANTA Q1 2016 Newsletter

Click to download the Q1 2016 Newsletter in PDF format

On behalf of myself, John Phillips, Shreve Gould and Matt Grob, I’d like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year and to review our efforts in 2015 and our 2016 schedule. For the legacy members who attended the Q1 Summit at Turner on January 27th, you’ve witnessed our tremendous growth first hand. For those of you who attended your first summit, welcome to VETLANTA. For those of you who haven’t attended a summit yet, I urge you to come out and assist with making Atlanta the #1 destination for veterans.

The event at Turner was our largest summit yet as we had 260 participants representing 150+ organizations from industry, non-profits, academia, government and transitioning & active service members.   Our special guest included Tuere Butler from Congressmen Lewis office, State Representative David Clark and Brigadier General Joe Jarrad, Georgia National Guard. Thank you again to Turner for hosting the event; they did a phenomenal job.

One of our goals going into 2015 was to establish a social media presence. We now have a LinkedIn Group which has grown to 600+ participants. In November, Jason Tison, owner of TEESINEED (veteran owned small business that is permitted to sell VETLANTA service mark merchandise) developed the VETLANTA Facebook page. In December, John Phillips asked his Boots to Loafers web designer/administrator, Cathy Ross who runs Canopy Web Design LLC (also a Veteran owned business, www.canopywebdesign.com) to design, create, and rollout www.VETLANTA.org. Cathy is doing all the design work pro bono and helps in the administration side of running the website. John donated the funds to maintain the website for the first year.

VETLANTA had a very active 2015. We started with a summit at Coca-Cola which Sergeant Major of the Army Ray Chandler was our special guest. From there we moved onto the first American Corporate Partners Event of the year in which Coca-Cola became part of the ACP family joining UPS, Home Depot, AT&T and GE as a participating company in Atlanta. ACP is a national non-profit that offers corporate mentors to transiting veterans for a full year. In addition to the mentorship program, sponsor companies can host local events such as networking events, resume review sessions and employer panel discussions.

JWT hosted our second summit where we reviewed non-profits the good, the bad and the ugly and welcomed the stage to 20 non-profits to present. UPS and Bryan Wolfe hosted our first annual Veterans Owned business summit in August where we provided contacts and advice to several dozen VOB owners on how to be a supplier to our perspective companies. A day later we held our biggest summit of 2015 which was hosted by McKesson. Our key note speaker for that Summit was Brian Stann, CEO for Hire Heroes USA, Marine veteran, Silver Star Winner, Retired MMA Fighter and UFC announcer.

In September a dozen VETLANTA members had the opportunity to attend the Emory Veteran Connect dinner where we helped Emory veterans broaden their networks.   UPS hosted the second ACP event in September where assisted 50 plus transitioning veterans. We had our fourth quarter summit at Georgia Power/Southern Company which gave us momentum going into Veterans Day. We started Veterans Day “month” with an amazing event at AT&T. AT&T, led by Michael Doyle organized an event to not only assist but also to honor homeless veterans in Atlanta.   This event highlighted the true collaboration spirit of VETLANTA as we were able to bring together 35 companies, non-profits and government agencies to assist 120 veterans. The next week, Coca Cola hosted the first ever joint ACP – Hire Heroes joint event. We had two dozen transitioning veterans attend the Hire Heroes transition seminar and about a hundred transitioning veterans attend the ACP panel discussion. The last event was a small but prime example of the collaboration VETLANTA offers. UPS supplied the volunteers, Home Depot supplied the materials, Soldiers Angels helped identify the project and coordination with the VA and we successfully completed a small shelving project at a VA facility in the area.

This brings us to our schedule in 2016. We have a full slate of events planned however we are going to need your help. As you look at the schedule you will see several events where we need project managers and host organizations. Please consider volunteering to host or as a project manager and if interested please let the executive committee members know at the earliest. We will have four VETLANTA summits again this year. We are currently finalizing the host for Q2, UPS will host Q3 and Southern Company Q4. On the transitioning veteran side of the house, we plan on hosting three ACP/HHUSA events this year which will be hosted by UPS, Coca-Cola and GE.

One thing that we are very proud of is our idea to develop and implement Military 101 training. This training will be focused on educating HR, recruiters and hiring managers on veteran candidates. We see two extremes in veteran hiring. The first is some of our veterans simply fail to translate their skills and experience effectively into a resume. The good news is there are a number of non-profits and government organizations in VETLANTA that are assisting on this issue. The second extreme is at times, industry just doesn’t get it. Some companies fail to give their employees the training to recognize what veterans bring to the table and many in the hiring chain simply don’t have the ability to appropriately translate veteran resumes. Our goal is to change the mindset that companies need to hire veterans because it’s the right thing to do and make them realize they need to hire veterans because its gives them a competitive advantage.   Our plan is to have one showcase event this year hosted by an organization with all of VETLANTA invited. We also plan to field this at our individual companies. Our target for the showcase event is April/May. In addition to needing a host company the project manager Jordan Kellett needs some assistance developing the curriculum.

One of our goals this year is to assist the homeless population. AT&T is considering hosting a second event to assist however we’d like to get a company to support AT&T or take the lead as required. We’d also like to work with the VA to participate in this year’s stand down and this event can be combined or held separately depending on how the host company wants to support.

Bryan Wolf has taken the lead to form the VETLANTA Entrepreneurship Center for Excellence. They plan on hosting several events this year and you can contact Bryan directly if you want to assist. We’ve had a consistent request to hold networking events between our summits so our members can get together. Think of it as summit without the death by PowerPoint.   We are looking for ideas and hosts for future socials. Finally we’d like to get involved with assisting with service related activities. We understand that there are over 100 non-profits in VETLANTA and understand many of them want to be involved. We’ve formed a group headed by Shreve Gould and Matt Grob to review, vet and select several activities.

Thank you for participating and we look forward to a great year. With VETLANTA leading the way, Atlanta will be the #1 destination for veterans.

VETLANTA 2016 Projected Activities

Click to download the Q1 2016 Newsletter in PDF format