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Helping Out – Training War Veterans for Work on Wall Street

Interview with Vanessa Small
from The Washington Post

Who: Lawrence Doll, founder
Company: Drexel Hamilton, a service-disabled institutional broker-dealer specializing in corporate finance.
Charitable giving highlights: The company gives about 5 percent of earnings to the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation and has hired seven veterans through the foundation’s program.
Personal: Lives in Arlington

Tell me about your philanthropy?
I’m a disabled veteran. With two other friends, I started a stock brokerage company in New York. I decided to give 5 percent of everything we make to disabled veteran organizations around the country. After talking with my partners, we developed our philanthropic endeavors into training for returning soldiers for a career in the financial services industry. We decided to call it Wall Street Warfighters Foundation. We got our first two disabled kids to be trained in January of 2009. To this point, we’ve trained 24 disabled veterans, all of them are employed in the financial services industry. Our goal is to train 12 every six months.

How does it work?
It’s an in-residence. We bring in people to train them, pass their exams and get them internships in various firms on Wall Street. It doesn’t mean that at the end of the day, they’re going to actually work on Wall Street. It’s a very competitive side of the industry that’s being challenged right now. Some might become bankers in other states. But we train them to make the transition from the military to having a career to take care of their families for the rest of their lives.

How is the foundation staffed?
Right now we only have one paid employee. We’re lean and mean. When people give money to us, they can be sure the money is given to the kids. Drexel provides the offices, rooms and Bloomberg computers for the kids.

Any recurring challenges you face with this giving model?
It costs us $35,000 per student for six months. So we need more financing. We also need other companies to stand by and hire them.

Any remarkable stories from the foundation that have impacted you?
We have a young guy who works for us now and went through the program. He is seriously burned because a bomb exploded under his humvee. He also suffered brain injuries so he was struggling a bit with reading. We sat him down and said: ‘We don’t care what happens, we’re going to hire you. I don’t care if you never pass an exam, we’re going to hire you. But you have to work at this thing like you’ve never worked at anything in your life. Forget the pressure, you’re our guy.’ Two weeks later – he had been working pretty hard – and on our morning company conference call, he got on the call and said, ‘Hey, I love you guys.’ It really stopped me. It was a very moving time.

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