More than 32,000 New England-area veterans are now eligible for a program that connects low-income families with low-cost internet service and computers. In the seven years that Comcast has been offering its Internet Essentials program, it has helped more than six million low-income Americans get online, and in August invited low-income veterans to apply.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, less than 70 percent of low-income veterans have internet access, and only about 60 percent own a computer, yet many services a veteran may need to access require the internet.
Marc Goodman, director of public relations for Comcast’s Boston-area market, says online access is critical. “The vast majority of employers require job applications be completed online, even entry-level and retail positions,” he says.
Goodman says veterans who meet the income guidelines can purchase internet access starting at $9.95 per month (plus taxes). The service includes an option to buy a computer for less than $150. Once people have access, Comcast provides a number of other online tools, while a partnership with the Khan Academy, a nonprofit that provides free educational programs, allows easy access to thousands of free online videos, as well. All participants have access to free digital literacy training.
The Internet Essentials program isn’t the only way Comcast connects with veterans. The company, which has a major facility in Manchester and employs about 2,000 in NH, has hired, nationally, more than 12,000 veterans and members of the military community since 2012. The company continues benefits to employees in the National Guard for up three years when they are deployed. “Not only will their job be here when they get back, but they and their family will be well cared for. We also provide up to 15 days paid time off for Guard training in addition to regular paid time off,” Goodman says.
He says the company and veterans share a similar sense of mission. “Our founder Ralph Roberts served in the U.S. Navy, and we have always had a high regard for military dating back to the company’s origins,” Goodman says.
For more information, visit internetessentials.com/apply.