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On Monday, November 15th, Activision Blizzard team members and their families will begin participating in the 8th annual Veterans Day of Service (VDOS). Born out of a desire to give back to veteran communities across the globe, this annual event involves our team members donating their time to local veteran organizations and the families they serve. Typically, VDOS involves our team members volunteering one day of their time on-site; however, this year (like the last) will be virtual due to the pandemic.
During this year’s event, employees from 20 locations will assemble kits designed to meet the needs of local organizations that support veterans in their communities. These kits include:
We caught up with two of our team members, Jessica Estipona and Jakob Soto, who talk about their own ties to the veteran community and why our company’s annual VDOS tradition of supporting veterans is meaningful to them.
As the manager of Activision Blizzard’s Veteran and DEI recruiting team, I get the pleasure of helping members of the veteran community find a career path in video games. It’s amazing and fulfilling work, and one of my favorite parts about bringing these veterans onto our team is the fellowship we share every November during Veterans Day of Service (VDOS).
I’m not a veteran – my father worked for the VA medical center for 30 years in San Diego. What really brought me closer to the veteran community is being married to one. My husband served in the Navy, and together we lived in both San Diego and New Jersey during his time in uniform.
I remember a sense of community – where I felt like I was around people that were looking out for each other and taking care of each other.
That dedication for watching each other’s backs is really what I see as the foundation for VDOS. This will be my third year participating – my first year was two years ago (in person) at Camp Mabry in Austin. That was a big bonus to be on a military installation again – just to be in and around that environment kind of brought me back to when I was first married and living partially on an Army base while my husband was in the Navy.
Our Activision Blizzard group helped clean up and renovate several gardens that were built for folks suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress. It was so therapeutic, working those gardens, knowing that our work was going to have an impact on people that really needed it. We also cleaned out and organized a whole warehouse on the base! The opportunity to interact with my fellow employees was also a highlight – being a remote worker for the past five years means I’ve got to take every chance I can to enjoy some fellowship with my teammates.
I have a ton of admiration and empathy for those that serve. They make up such a small portion of the population of our country and they make this commitment completely voluntarily. They take the time to do something outside of themselves to help others and the nation. I understand the sacrifice they and their families make when they serve.
The empathy comes from understanding the challenge they face when returning to civilian life after military service. So when it comes to VDOS, I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a day of giving back to veterans – a day to focus on them. I think it’s great the company endorses a day where we can take time out to give to those who gave so much of themselves for us.
I want our veterans to know that they're thought of, they're remembered, and they're tremendously valued here.
Jakob Soto, present day
Jakob Soto in Basic Training, circa May 2012
As a recruiting coordinator for the Early Careers team at Activision Blizzard, I help recruiters with interview scheduling, offer creation, event planning, and more, for our summer internship program.
Helping young students realize their dreams of working in the entertainment and video game industry has been an especially bright spot for me, as well as meeting talented students and veterans who are looking for their start in this world.
As an Air Force veteran, I know the feeling of getting that chance to break in – and I know my work is helping to make a positive impact on many others.
From 2012 to 2016, I served as an F-15 fighter jet crew chief, stationed overseas at Royal Air Force (RAF) Lakenheath in the United Kingdom. After my time in the service, I wanted to follow my passion for working in the gaming industry, which led me here.
From day one, the company’s commitment to veterans has been evident to me. The Veteran’s Guide to Activision Blizzard was the only guide I knew in the industry. I pored through it in undergraduate school; it really resonated with me, and I felt motivated to make it even better.
Fast forward to last year during VDOS when I pitched the idea of updating the guide to the veterans and friends’ network - they were 100% on board!
Working closely with Dan Goldenberg (of the Call of Duty Endowment) and people from across the company, both veterans and allies, to accomplish this mission was an immensely proud moment for me. I was also proud to have it shipped off and available online during our Military Appreciation Month. In the weeks that followed, Veterans reached out to me via social channels, expressing their gratitude with words such as, "Hey, Jakob, that veteran's guide your company made is amazing. It's given me so much hope that this company really values me as a veteran."
This VDOS, I look forward to banding together with my fellow vets and allies and find a project that will benefit our community and those who served our nation.