Mark Elliot is global head of JPMorgan Chase Military and Veteran Affairs (Courtesy Photo)

By Micha P. Green
AFRO D.C. & Digital Editor

Memorial Day allows people to celebrate those who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country, and to reflect on all the work and sacrifices servicemen make every day. Carry The Load, in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, works daily to remind Americans of the importance of Memorial Day and those who serve our country, as well as provide resources for military, veteran and first-responder families.

“Carry The Load is a non-profit that provides active ways to connect Americans to the sacrifices of our nation’s military, veterans, first responders and their families, started in 2011 as a grassroots effort by two veteran U.S. Navy SEALs who felt like the nation had forgotten the meaning of Memorial Day. A decade later, Carry The Load has turned into a worldwide movement to honor and remember our nation’s heroes,” global head of JPMorgan Chase Military and Veteran Affairs retired U.S. Army Colonel Mark Elliot told the AFRO.

“In addition to being an outlet for emotional healing, Carry The Load raises much needed funds to assist with the many challenges facing our military, veterans, first responders and their families. Peer-to-peer fundraising goes toward recovery services, such as counseling, adaptive training, suicide prevention, job placements, home improvements, educational scholarships for children of the fallen, and many other services.”

After 28 years serving his country, Elliot knows the kinds of resources military and veteran families need year round. He finds great satisfaction being able to serve fellow servicemen through his current position and working for a corporation like JPMorgan Chase, which prioritizes organizations and efforts such as Carry The Load.

“Corporations like ours have a critical role to play in supporting our veterans and military families. One of our most rewarding areas of work is the opportunity we have to work with organizations like Carry The Load in a shared mission to support those who have sacrificed for us and may need support as they heal and transition to civilian life,” Elliot said. 

Through JPMorgan’s lead partnership with Carry The Load, the organization has grown tremendously and is able to service more people.

“Carry The Load started as a 20-hour walk with about 50 people in Dallas,” Elliot explained, referencing the organization’s flagship event, which will still take place in Dallas May 30-31. “JPMorgan Chase was fortunate to join the effort in 2013 when the relay expanded to the East Coast, and today the effort has expanded to 15,550 miles nationally. For the past seven years, Carry The Load has become part of our firm’s culture, not only for our veteran employees, but also our non-veterans to give them an opportunity to honor those who have fallen in the line of duty.”

Carry The Load is one of the many ways JPMorgan Chase has found a way to remember, support and celebrate military members and veterans.

“After the market crash in 2008, leadership at JPMorgan Chase recognized that veterans were vulnerable in that economic environment. Like many other organizations, we wanted to express our gratitude to the men and women of our nation’s military for their service, but our mission needed to go beyond platitudes. The Office of Military and Veterans Affairs was established in 2011 with that in mind,” said Elliot, who has served as executive director of the office since 2018.  

“With strong support from the highest levels of leadership at the firm,  we built a dedicated team to develop innovative programs to help address some of the most pressing challenges facing the military community—employment, financial health and starting small businesses. Now in our 10th anniversary year, supporting military and veterans is woven into the fabric of how we do business. Over the last decade, we’ve hired more than 16,000 veterans across all lines of business, developed a suite of programs to support their career development, deployed more than $8 million to support organizations that serve veteran entrepreneurs, and donated more than 1,000 mortgage-free homes to military families.”

Elliot knows firsthand the experience of joining the JPMorgan family after serving in the military, as he was one of those 16,000 veterans hired in the last decade.  

“I joined the JPMorgan Chase in 2015 after 28 years in the military, starting in Global Technology as an individual contributor. My time in technology was incredibly valuable because it was a true transition from my leadership role in the military. My technology experience also gives me insight into the workforce needs of the future and how we are equipping veterans to compete for those jobs,” Elliot explained. “So, when I joined as Head of Military and Veterans Affairs in 2018, I was able to take those perspectives and apply them to how our team thinks about designing programs that support hiring, training and developing transitioning veterans here at the firm.”

Hiring veterans is JPMorgan Chase’s top priority.

“One of our most important areas of work is the Veteran Jobs Mission. In 2011, we co-founded this initiative with 10 other companies with a mission of hiring 100,000 veterans by 2020. Today, that coalition has grown to more than 200 companies that have hired more than 700,000 veterans on our way to one million. At JPMorgan Chase, this work was always about sharing best practices and advocating for veteran talent across all industries—we embraced our traditional corporate ‘competitors’ as part of this effort and all of our businesses have been made stronger for it,” Elliot told the AFRO.

With the announcement of the withdrawal of all troops from Afghanistan, Elliot has some thoughts that will help returning service members and their families transition into civilian life and jobs.

“From an employment perspective, my advice to service members planning for transition is to start to broaden your network outside of the military. Know that your skills and talents are valued in the private sector and may take you places you don’t expect. So, always be open minded about companies like JPMorgan Chase where you can find more opportunities beyond finance. In terms of financial health, I encourage you to work with your financial institutions to understand the benefits and products available to you. At Chase, we’re proud to offer some best in class military benefits to our clients to help them plan for their financial future outside of the service,” Elliot said.

Finally, Elliot said that through his work with JPMorgan Chase in partnership with Carry The Load, he is able to remind others the true significance of Memorial Day. 

“For me, Memorial Day is always a time for reflecting and honoring those who never had the privilege of transitioning out of the military, those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. In my role at JPMorgan Chase and through our work with Carry The Load, I’m able to help educate my non-veteran colleagues and the broader public on the importance of this day. It’s not the kickoff of summer, not a barbeque holiday, it’s a day of remembrance and it’s important that we honor that,” he told the AFRO.

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor