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2021 Veterans Conference

The 2021 Veterans Conference will be held July 28th - 30th.

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U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills

SSG Travis Mills

“Never Give Up. Never Quit.”

That’s the message retired U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills of the 82nd Airborne will share at the Eighth Annual National Association of State Workforce Agencies (NASWA) Veterans conference in July 2021.

It is also a motto he lives with daily, as one of only five servicemembers to survive injuries as a quadruple amputee from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A “Recalibrated Warrior,” motivational speaker, and international advocate for veterans and amputees, Staff Sergeant Mills also started the Travis Mills Foundation, which benefits and assists wounded and injured veterans. His larger-than-life personality, sense of humor and incredible spirit for life engages audiences from the moment he takes center stage.

On April 10, 2012, Staff Sergeant Mills was critically injured on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan by an IED (improvised explosive device) while on patrol, losing portions of both legs and both arms. Thanks to his amazing strength, courage, an incredible will to live, the heroic actions of the men in his unit, the prayers of thousands, and all the healthcare providers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he continues to overcome the obstacles of living life as a quadruple amputee.

Staff Sergeant Mills’ story inspired the creation of the documentary “Travis: A Soldier’s Story,” which played in theaters nationwide and has been featured on local and national news. His story is being adapted into a major motion picture directed by Sylvester Stallone and starring Stallone and Adam Driver. His book, “Tough as They Come,” is also a New York Times bestseller.

You can hear more about the events and people who shaped Staff Sergeant Mills’ life on Friday afternoon, July 30. More information about the conference will be available at

For more information on this Speaker, please visit

His appearance is being sponsored by CVS Health Aetna.



Shannon Huffman Polson

Shannon Huffman Polson

Tenacity, determination, grit and an innate ability to lead has defined Shannon Huffman Polson, who has accomplished many “firsts” in her career as an Army officer, corporate manager and author. Another first will be her keynote address at the Eighth Annual NASWA Veterans Conference in July 2021!

An adventurous young woman, she summited Mount McKinley (now Denali) and, at the time, was the youngest woman to complete the attempt. From there, she was commissioned in the Army and was one of the first women to fly the Apache attack helicopter. Through her leadership and aviation skills, she earned the right to lead two flight platoons, and was the first woman to command an Apache flight company in the 2d Infantry Division.

After nearly a decade as an Army officer and attack aviation leader, and later as a leader and manager in the corporate sector at Guidant and Microsoft, Shannon turned her attention to storytelling, in part through her Grit Project blog and in her new book. In The Grit Factor: Courage, Resilience and Leadership in the most Male Dominated Industry in the World (2020), Shannon shares her own critical leadership lessons along with candid stories of remarkable female leaders and trailblazers.

Drawing on a distinguished military and corporate career, she reveals her lessons learned and leadership strategies to help you harness your own inner strength, move beyond resistance, and attain your goals. With an emphasis on grit – which she describes as “a dogged determination in the face of difficult circumstances” – she demonstrates how to tap into that passion and resolve so you can face your limitations, own your sense of purpose, and become a leader of greatness.

Shannon’s address, “Leading From Any Seat: Stories from the Cockpit & Lessons from the Grit Project,” will be Thursday, July 29. More information about the conference will be available at

Her appearance is being sponsored by Microsoft.



Ben Pring Head Shot

Ben Pring

COVID-19 has changed the way all of us work, but what about the future of work post pandemic? What new jobs will arise, which ones will be forever changed, and will we ever go back into the office?

Those questions are just a few of things on Ben Pring’s mind these days, and he will be sharing his insights at the Eighth Annual NASWA Veterans Conference on Wednesday, July 28. Despite dire predictions about machines taking over, Ben is confident work will still exist – it will just look and feel different, and will depend a lot on the attitudes of people in the workforce.

Ben Pring is the head of thought leadership at Cognizant, co-founded and leads Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, and is a member of Cognizant’s Executive Leadership Team. Ben is a co-author of the best-selling and award-winning books, What To Do When Machines Do Everything (2017) and Code Halos; How the Digital Lives of People, Things, and Organizations are Changing the Rules of Business (2014). His latest book, Monster: Taming the Machines that Rules our Lives, Jobs, and Future will be out in March 2021.

In 2018 Ben was a Bilderberg Meeting participant. Ben sat on the advisory board of the Labor and Work Life program at Harvard Law School between 2017 and 2020. Ben was named as one of 30 management thinkers to watch in 2020 by Thinkers 50. He was recently named a leading influencer on the future of work by Onalytica.

Ben joined Cognizant in 2011, from Gartner, where he spent 15 years researching and advising on areas such as Cloud Computing and Global Sourcing. In 2007, Ben won Gartner’s prestigious Thought Leader Award. Prior to Gartner Ben worked for a number of consulting companies including Coopers and Lybrand.

Ben’s expertise in helping clients see around corners, think the unthinkable, and calculate the compound annual growth rate of unintended consequences has made him an internationally recognized expert on leading edge technology and its intersection with business and society. His work has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, the London Times, BBC’s News Night, PBS’s News Hour, NPR’s On Point, the Drucker Forum Report, Business Insider, Forbes, Fortune, The Sun, the MIT Review, the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, Parade, the Times of India, Quartz, Inc., Axios, the Australian, and the Economic Times.

Based near Boston since 2000, Ben graduated with a degree in Philosophy from Manchester University in the UK where he grew up.





2021 Veterans Conference Schedule

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2021 Veterans Conference Presentations

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Future of Work

Session: Plenary Session: The Future of Work | Wednesday July 28, 2021 | 12:00 PM

Military Women's Memorial

Session: Plenary Session: Honoring Women in Service | Wednesday July 28, 2021 | 2:45 PM

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Friday, July 30, 2021

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