As promised, I’ve uploaded an email that I sent to my congresswoman explaining my story, hardships, and how affirmative action is not helping enlisted military veterans. Hope you enjoy:
To The Honorable Nydia M. Velazquez,
I am a disabled veteran of our United States Army, and I feel that a minority group is under supported in our fine city and country.
As a young Sergeant and leader of troops, I remember sitting in the hills of Afghanistan thinking, I’m going to be the first person in my family to graduate college. The G.I. Bill is going to give me the opportunity to be whatever I wish so long as I make it out of war. In “The Art of War,” Sun Tzu famously explained, “rewards are necessary in order to make the soldier see the advantage of beating the enemy […] so that all of your men have the desire to fight, each on his own account.” At a ripe age of eighteen, I bought in to this idea.
I promised myself that I would not take this education for granted. Honestly, the government held their part of the bargain, however, corporate America did not. After earning excellent grades at the University of Miami, I earned a degree in finance that cost United States tax-payers $300,000. As my graduation came closer, I saw classmates, many of whom I did far better than in finance, getting offers from various investment banks. What I didn’t know was those very private school students got many of the jobs because of family connections. I had not realized that a high grade point average from a top 50 university meant very little when it came to recruiting. I still had hope, despite, ultimately, being back in the same rung of the caste system in which i started.
Without securing a position, I graduated at the age of 27 years old with 5 years of military leadership and an undergraduate finance education as good as anyone. I moved to New York City to try to network as none of my application to banks so much as resulted in a single call back.
I split my days in half. Half of the day I would study, read books, and watch videos to prepare me for my dream of entering banking. The other I would cold call, email, do informational interviews, and pursue all veteran resources I could find. Money that I saved while deployed started to deduct from my bank account quickly. However, each veteran that I met told me to stay persistent and that I have what it takes to succeed in the industry. It was clear that I was being overlooked because I was not an officer. In retrospect, officers weren’t required to have top level educations or even ones in finance for that matter. But the few that the banks did take were officers, leaving us enlisted out to dry. Why? Because I did the military before I did college? Because there was never a father in my life to explain to me the importance of college?
Despite this, I have spent the last five months trying to secure an interview. I got lucky and got one with a firm that receives business from the government because it has a reputation for hiring service disabled veterans. Despite cold-calling my way into an interview and knocking the interview out of the park, they explained that they were downsizing and would see if the could help me.
I wonder, is it because I am disabled? Is it because I am a veteran? Is it because I was enlisted? I know it is not because I am unqualified. I am looking for answers and, though it is extremely for me to swallow my pride and send this email, I am running out of options. If I can’t interview in this field, I need to dedicate my life to advocating veterans rights. Forgetting about the enlisted guys is like hiring women and minorities, but not hiring women minorities.
I feel alone and have sacrificed far too much to give up now. Thank you for your time, and I look forward to your response.