As a veteran and a volunteer, Erica Jeffries is clear on what matters:
“To do good for others – it’s our purpose in life."
On Veterans Day, Jeffries will be creating care packages for deployed troops with Exelis Action Corps, a program that encourages employees of the aerospace and defense company Exelis to serve veterans as volunteers.
Jeffries, who is in charge of developing a diverse workforce for Exelis, appreciates the opportunity through Exelis Action Corps to participate in regular volunteer events that benefit veterans, including ongoing work with Fisher House. The nonprofit provides temporary housing for military families near hospitals where their loved ones are recovering from combat injury, illness or disease.
“The Fisher House is important to me, because when I was on active duty, my mother was able to stay at a Fisher House in Texas while I was in the hospital,” says Jeffries. “It was a wonderful gift and a blessing to our family.”
Jeffries recalls that one of her most gratifying volunteer moments with Exelis Action Corps came through Final Salute, an organization that provides housing to homeless female veterans in the Washington, D.C., area. The volunteers worked on landscaping, painting and otherwise making the house a comfortable living environment.
“The experience working with Final Salute was powerful because we knew we were preparing a home for veterans and their families,” Jeffries says.
Jeffries shares a kinship with the veterans she serves, having been in the military herself. She attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and served with the Army for five years, piloting Blackhawk helicopters to bring equipment to troops.
She’s also using her experience transitioning from military to civilian life to help others do the same, through a program she developed designed to teach leadership skills to veterans. The Leveraging Military Leadership program, in partnership with Points of Light and executive search firm Korn Ferry, launches in January and will became a signature part of Exelis Action Corps.
In the meantime, Jeffries – who directs a ministry for veterans at her church – says she is looking forward to doing good for others on Veterans Day.