WASHINGTON — Federal and state agencies have made a concerted push to get more veteran health, job and support services online in recent years, in an effort to make the resources more widely available.
Now a new effort is underway to make sure that all veterans have access to the internet to use those programs, after a series of recent studies has shown that tens of thousands still struggle to get online.
Officials from Comcast today announced they will expand their Internet Essentials program — designed to help low-income households get internet access — to include veterans facing financial challenges.
“There is a very big need here,” said David Cohen, senior executive vice president and chief diversity officer at the company. “For those of us who have access, it’s almost unimaginable to think about how to live without it … but for a lot of veterans, it’s another barrier they have to overcome.”
A Department of Commerce study released last fall found that veterans are more likely to use the internet than peers who didn’t serve, regardless of their age group. But a 2016 Veterans Affairs study found that nearly 30 percent of low-income veterans households did not have any reliable means to get online.
Cohen noted that can be particularly problematic for veterans looking for a job after leaving the military. Most Fortune 500 companies — including Comcast — only accept resumes via email or online submission.
Comcast officials estimate that roughly 1 million veterans in their 40-state coverage region will be eligible for the new service. Individuals who participate are eligible for high-speed Internet service for $9.95 a month, laptop purchases for $150, and free digital literacy training through local community partners.
Company representatives made the announcement in Philadelphia, where they will work with the Veterans Multi-Service Center on outreach. Similar events are planned throughout the country in the next month.
“We’ll be creating a whole new web of relationships in the veterans space,” Cohen said. “Working with parents of young children is a whole different population than working with seniors. So we’ll leverage those new partnerships to make sure we’re providing the appropriate support.”
More information on the program is available on the Internet Essentials web site.