The lives of four military veterans who were permanently disabled as a result of their military service just got a little bit easier. Pratt & Whitney's UTC-4-Vets Employee Resource Group donated a Microsoft Surface PRO tablet and related wireless technology to the veterans to enable connectivity and help with daily tasks.
The veterans will use the tablets to interact with mortgage-free smart homes built or modified especially for them by the nonprofit Building Homes for Heroes, a national organization that mobilizes corporate sponsors to provide homes for disabled military heroes. According to the organization's website, "these homes not only help to remove the family's financial burden, they help to restore the individual's freedom, and enable the veteran to lead a more independent and productive civilian life."
"UTC-4-Vets is dedicated to providing veterans with the tools they need to be successful," said Nelson Acosta, P&W IT manager, Manufacturing Applications, and a UTC-4-Vets cabinet member who served in two foreign conflicts during his six years in the Connecticut Air National Guard. "This small but meaningful donation will help with everyday activities that many of us take for granted."
Acosta noted that veterans can use the technology to turn lights on and off, adjust window treatments like blinds or curtains, answer the phone, set alarms, open doors and adjust television sets.
"The tablet can also be projected onto a large-screen television set, making it easier to interact with and see," he added.
Members of UTC-4-Vets will follow up with the veterans for a year to see if they need any other technology modifications.
"This technology is just one small part of building a stable home foundation for these heroes, allowing them to focus on their recovery," Acosta said. "They need a strong support system and we are happy to be part of that support."
Acosta counts himself among the lucky service members who were deployed and came home without injury.
"Many of our service members feel alone after their injury," he said. "Our company reaches out to make a difference for veterans and uses its resources to provide creative solutions and technology that can make their lives easier."
UTC-4-Vets ensures military veterans, active members of the Guard or Reserve, their families and supervisors receive insight, guidance and support in all matters involving employment with Pratt & Whitney and their status as a veteran.
"Our vision is to continue to build an all-inclusive, high-performance work environment that supports the attraction, development and retention of the best talent globally," Acosta said.
The group works in four focus areas: community outreach, honor and recognition, recruiting and development, and communication and engagement. According to Acosta, companies like Pratt & Whitney that hire veterans benefit from their leadership, focus, dedication to end goals and sense of team that have been honed by their years in the military.
"These are qualities that most people have, but they have been embedded in veterans as part of their military training and experience," he said.
UTC-4-Vets is one is one of eight Employee Resource Groups at Pratt & Whitney. Employee Resource Groups are open to all employees and provide opportunities to expand professional networks, learn about different cultures, develop careers and gain leadership experience.
Photo 1, left: Nelson Acosta, left, presents a Microsoft Surface PRO tablet to Army Master Sgt. George Vera as his family looks on. The tablet will enable Vera to interact with the smart house provided mortgage-free by the nonprofit Building Homes for Heroes. Vera was injured during his 20th year of military service when his base came under attack from a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device driven by suicide bombers. Vera was shot and paralyzed during his efforts to pull wounded soldiers away from enemy fire and secure the perimeter.
Photo 2, right: Nelson Acosta, right, stands with Army Spc. Alberto Diaz. Diaz received one of four Microsoft Surface PRO tablets donated by Pratt & Whitney to veterans through the nonprofit Building Homes for Heroes. In 2014, while deployed in Afghanistan, Diaz was riding in a truck that rolled over an improvised explosive device, triggering an explosion that caused him severe injuries.