Behind The ScenesOutreach

ESPN’s Veterans Group celebrates its 10th anniversary as the company kicks off Veterans Week

Editor’s note: This week, in recognition of Veterans Day 2013, Front Row will present looks at various people and programs behind America’s Heroes: A Salute to the Troops Presented by USAA initiative.

What began as a small 2003 Veterans’ Day Reception hosted by ESPN Executive Chairman George Bodenheimer has grown into the nearly 150-members-strong ESPN Veterans Group, celebrating its 10th anniversary this month. The small gathering at the former Clarion Hotel in Bristol, Conn. led to a full-fledged organization with 11 officers, regular meetings and a host of annual events.

“The group’s mission is to support, encourage and recognize employees that are members of the armed forces,” said Diane Larivee, the group’s outreach officer, ESPN’s associate director of network management systems and analysis and a Navy veteran. “They have served and are still serving their country in a myriad of ways.”

The group participates in a variety of activities throughout the year, including “Homes for the Brave,” USO kit building, deployment ceremonies and trips to West Point and the Intrepid Museum. They represented ESPN in the Annual Hartford Veterans Day Parade (see photos below) on Nov. 3.

This summer, the group collaborated with ESPN’s Employee Resource Groups for “Music on the Green,” an outdoor concert featuring the 102d Army Band. Toiletries were collected there and later brought to the Newington (Conn.) Veterans Home.

“We also host guest speakers for our Annual Veteran Appreciation Luncheons,” said Larivee. “They come from a variety of military backgrounds and have inspired us with their motivational messages.”

The group recognizes the sacrifices that members of the armed forces have made and provides a meaningful support network for employees. Using their connections to volunteer in a variety of outreach initiatives helps to extend the group’s reach into the community, as well.

“We’ve hosted some great events, but I am most proud of the Veterans Plaque that stands by the flag pole in Veterans Circle in front of Building 3 and 4,” said past President Vinny Thibeau, associate director of transmissions and a Desert Storm Army vet. “There is a sense of pride and respect for individuals who have served in the military, so getting the ESPN Veterans Group together creates a strong sense of loyalty to our jobs.”

“It is encouraging to know our company makes an effort to recognize the valuable skillsets military personnel bring to the corporate environment,” said Larivee. “Disney’s Heroes Work Here campaign helps both the military members and the organization by educating and coaching individuals on key areas, such as resume writing, hiring and retaining objectives and support programs.”

Video co-produced by Diane Larivee and Mike Becker

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