Sonoran Technology CEO Paul Smiley addresses the crowd at the HAV Veterans Forum for 2023.

Veterans Forum builds camaraderie amongst organizations with veterans’ groups.

Honoring America’s Veterans (HAV) recently hosted its annual Veterans Forum, but the concept differed this year. Rather than getting the community together to hear about veterans who are leaders at large organizations, we decided to reach out to the veterans within organizations that foster engagement, resource, diversity, or affinity groups for veterans instead.

As such, there was a wealth of camaraderie established amongst organizations such as the University of Phoenix, Bank of America, and Arizona Public Service, to name a few. The Camaraderie 2023 event brought together Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force veterans from across the valley. These veterans engaged in a networking exercise and heard presentations about what makes such groups successful inside large organizations.

Kaz Mickiewicz, a Marine Corps veteran employed at Bank of America, spoke about how BofA leaders were receptive to the concept from the start. “When we spoke about this idea, our leadership embraced it years ago. From then until now, they still support our efforts and allow us to give back to the community with volunteer hours at HAV events such as the Phoenix Veterans Day Parade,” he said.

“Our group is active with several events, including the Parade and supporting social service-oriented organizations like U.S. Vets,” said  Brian Ishmael, an Army veteran at Synchrony. “Having our companies support on both of these fronts highlights how Synchrony values employees like me,” he added.

Air Force veteran Eric Ryan is the Senior Director of Military Operations at the Office of Military and Veteran Affairs at the University of Phoenix. About ten years ago, their Veterans Employee Resource Group created a mid-May Memorial Day tribute by depicting an avenue of flags on the lawn at their headquarters at Fountainhead. The program grows each year, and this time, they used more than 10,000 small American flags to spell out the words celebrate, honor, and remember. After their event is displayed for a week, they donate the flags to the VA’s National Memorial Cemetery to decorate the graves for Memorial Day. HAV partnered with the VA Cemetery on Cave Creek this year to place and retrieve 60,000 flags. HAV also supported the annual ceremony held on Memorial Day. The National Memorial Support Committee opted to turn the Memorial Day Ceremony over to HAV to continue the tradition of presenting the event each year.

Building camaraderie with veterans through organizations that employ them or hosting large-scale special events that recognize veterans helps them realize that our community supports them. If you’d like to learn more about how HAV honors and recognizes our veterans, visit


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