Distinguished Service Award Nominee Q&A

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Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC
Veteran Business Mentorship Nominee
Erik Pelton, Founder and Managing Attorney at Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC

1. Why do you think hiring & mentoring veterans is important for businesses and the Greater Washington region?
 Working with veteran entrepreneurs over the last five years has shown me how diverse their talents are across a wide variety of business sectors. Our veteran-owned small business clients come are spread across a myriad of different industries. Providing pro bono trademark legal counsel to them has provided us with a way to express gratitude for their service to our country with tangible actions  and to build relationships. In the DC region, with so many military and civilian defense all around us, the opportunities are greater and working with veteran owned businesses allows us to serve in both the local and national community. Working with veteran-owned businesses has also provide unique learning opportunities for our staff. Growing up in Massachusetts, I knew very few veterans personally. Since moving to Northern Virginia, my family and I  have benefited tremendously from the relationships we have been fortunate to develop with veterans from all the branches of service, whether as neighbors or as clients of our businesses.
 
2. What makes your company stand out compared to others in supporting & hiring veteran employees?
The nominees for the Distinguished Service Awards are conducting some amazing programs with veterans. Each of the other nominees contributes immensely to these causes, and we are honored to be nominated alongside them. In our field as a boutique trademark law firm, we aim to set a high standard for contributing our time and expertise to appropriate causes and pro bono services. Working with veteran owned businesses has provided a wonderful opportunity to help many veterans begin the next chapter of their lives as entrepreneurs and to ensure that their new brands are properly protected. As a small firm with just three fully time employees, we have been able to work with about a dozen veteran-owned businesses each year. In order to try to widen the impact, I have recently begun speaking and writing on the topic to encourage other similarly situated firm to establish pro bono programs to work with veterans.
 
3. What advice would you give to other companies or organizations who are looking to hire veterans or would like to install a hiring veteran’s employment program within their company?
Start small if needed. Every connection, every job, every pro bono opportunity helps someone and begins to create a ripple effect that collectively creates tremendous opportunities to work with veterans who bring incredible and unique experiences to every field of business.