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Together, We Can Build Military Thriving Cultures and Communities

Updated: Jan 5

ZeroMils along with changemakers from across the nation at AWP's Corporate Veteran Initiative convening in April 2023

By Kevin Schmiegel, Marine Veteran and CEO of ZeroMils

Shortly after incorporation in 2022, ZeroMils coined the phrase Military Thriving in response to growing trends in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors that fell short of helping military and veteran-connected families thrive.

While many companies tout military “friendliness” and “readiness” at convenings and on websites, a vast majority of them aren’t taking actionable steps to build a corporate culture that improves overall job satisfaction, performance, and retention. In short, they fail to provide Veterans and military spouses with pathways to grow professionally, opportunities to find purpose and feel part of a connected community, and the tools and resources they need to thrive.

This is why ZeroMils partners with companies and leaders who demonstrate with their actions that it isn’t good enough to be “military-friendly” or “military-ready.” Many of them are passionate and committed veterans who recognize that creating a Military Thriving culture inside their corporations is imperative to winning the war for talent, establishing brand loyalty with military-connected consumers, and growing their businesses.

In the same vein, it is the reason we intentionally connect our corporate partners with best-in-class nonprofits that not only share the same values but also believe that helping military and veteran families to merely “survive” isn’t good enough either. And it’s time to help them “thrive.”

A great example is the work ZeroMils is doing with America’s Warrior Partnership (AWP) and several Veteran Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to help expand AWP’s Corporate Veteran Initiative (CVI). CVI is a national program that works at the local level to address challenges Veterans and their families may encounter outside of work. In 2023, AWP significantly strengthened CVI by recruiting a core group of coalition members to help lead the charge.

Kevin with AWP's Jim Lorraine, Dave Lee, and Sean Passmore, at AWP's 2022 Awards Event

Serving alongside some of the nation’s most impactful and established corporate and ERG leaders from several of the biggest employers in America, AWP is creating a connected #network of changemakers and empowering them to provide veteran employees with the holistic resources they need to thrive both in the workplace and in society.

Over the next several weeks, leading to the Leo Thorsness Award Gala in Washington, DC, this May, we look forward to helping shine a light on extraordinary Veteran leaders like Army Green Beret, Ricky Derring, who was featured last month in AWP’s blog.

Kevin along with Ricky Derring and Dave Lee following AWP’s 10th Annual Symposium in Syracuse, NY

In highlighting changemakers like Ricky Derring and other veteran leaders who are making a tangible difference – with their actions – inside corporations and communities nationwide, we hope to inspire others to take action, too. Corporations and communities can start by participating in the upcoming Hearts for Leo Campaign starting February 1, 2024. 

About the Author:

Kevin Schmiegel is Chief Executive Officer at ZeroMils — a social impact company based in Washington DC that connects corporations, foundations, and individuals with best-in-class nonprofits to create military-thriving communities. In his current role, Schmiegel helps Fortune 500 companies build a military-thriving culture that hires, values, and retains Veterans and Military Spouses; is supportive of them through purpose-driven nonprofits at the national and local level; and tells that story through their Veteran and other diversity employee resource groups and an effective marketing strategy. A retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel who worked at the highest level in the Department of Defense and deployed to more than 50 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Kevin is a mission-focused leader with a proven track record for rapidly scaling organizations and a reputation for delivering significant results. Pursuing his life’s work to strengthen communities and bridge the civilian-military divide, Kevin previously served as the founder of Hiring Our Heroes at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and CEO of two other national nonprofits. Raising $100 million for these causes over a decade, Kevin and the teams he led have impacted more than 10 million Americans, in and out of uniform. He is a proud husband to Laura and a father of five.

About the ZeroMils:

ZeroMils aligns corporate and nonprofit partners to address 5 fundamental components of Military Thriving™, including:

  1. Meaningful Employment – and Small Business Ownership

  2. Finding Purpose through Continued Service

  3. A Connected Community

  4. Health and Well-Being - Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual

  5. The Kit Bag – Tools and resources Veterans need to constantly seek self-improvement

Learn more about ZeroMils:


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