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How Wells Fargo helps veterans with housing, financial education

Ann Schmidt

Long before Wells Fargo created its Military Affairs Program in 2012, the company was helping veterans and service members across the country in local communities. It wasn't until the program launched, however, that the company was able to focus its efforts and have a wider impact.

"The Veterans Administration didn't even exist in 1903, and we were making veteran home loans back then," Jerry Quinn, head of Military & Veteran Initiatives at Wells Fargo, told FOX Business.

"We've been supporting veterans for decades, and I think it was just a realization in 2012 that we could do more good if we were really strategic," Quinn added.

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Since the Military Affairs Program launched, the company has donated $170 million to military and veteran-related nonprofits and organizations, Wells Fargo announced last week.

It has also donated more than 400 homes for veterans across the country, hired more than 12,000 veterans and started a military-specific version of its Hands on Banking financial education program in 2013, which has since been shared with more than 1.5 million veterans, military members and their families, the company said.

Those accomplishments are part of the three "strategic priorities" that Wells Fargo has focused on since it first launched its Military Affairs Program: housingcareer transition and financial education.

"We recognize that especially with the three areas -- career transition, housing for sure, and then financial education — that the stressors in life that precipitate PTSD or traumatic brain injury or thoughts of suicide, can often be overcome when a person is able to have stable housing and a stable career and can plan for the future," said Quinn, who is also in the U.S. Army Reserve.

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Aside from donating homes and offering financial education programs, Wells Fargo offers several career transition programs, including an 8-10 week internship program called the Veteran Employment Transition and a mentorship program called American Corporate Partners, where Wells Fargo executives are connected with recently returned veterans.

The company also launched a call center that specifically helps military customers who have unique financial needs, such as a deployed service member trying to access their bank statements or older veterans who need help balancing their checkbooks.

"The call center is not career transition, housing … or financial education," Quinn said. "The call center's not that, but as it turns out, a call center was very much needed. And today our call center receives over 10,000 calls a month."

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Quinn said the company will continue to hire more veterans in all areas, including banking, human resources, IT and software, and expand its work with veteran-owned small businesses.

Wells Fargo is already a corporate member of the National Association of Veteran Owned Businesses and in the last three years, the company has spent $201 million with veteran-owned businesses.

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For Quinn — who has spent more than 30 years in the U.S. Army and more than 25 years in banking — the work he's doing now is almost a "culminating point" in his career.

"It's kind of like when you get to go to work every day and you love what you do, you don’t really go to work," he said. "It's near and dear to my heart."

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