The power of feeling seen.

By: Jessica Bonardi

How disabled Veteran and V Teamer Terri Leach found comfort and acceptance at Verizon.

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On today's edition of Up To Speed, we met V Teamer Terri Leach, a Global Service Delivery Manager based in Fort Myers, FL.

Terri shared that she lives with her wife of almost seven years and their two dogs. Terri’s wife is currently working on her doctorate in music education and took a year off work as a result. Terri notes that working at Verizon has made that possible for them both from a financial and benefits aspect.

Terri described growing up in rural Arkansas and having a cousin named Julie who was gay. She recalled hearing all the things her family would say about Julie, and when she decided to come out to her parents, she described it as a “very unique experience.”

She decided to write her mother a letter, which was not well received. Terri recalled how the situation put a wedge between her and her mother for about a year, which was difficult because of their close bond–a period of strain that was only amplified after her sister was killed by her boyfriend.

Eventually, with some help from her aunt and her cousin, Terri and her mother reconciled, something she says meant the world to her.

Terri also recalled her time in the U.S. Navy, which she joined in 1993 after a couple of years in college. During her service, she sustained an injury and was medically separated from the military.

Terri opened up about receiving an official diagnosis of PTSD through the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. One day, her therapist suggested she acquire a service dog to help her with her anxiety, both in her personal life and at work.

“He really helps me stay calm” says Terri. “He really helps me be the better person and obviously make me the better employee for Verizon.”

Terri is a proud member of our VALOR, PRISM, ADVANCE and WAVE employee resource groups. She shared how encouraged she is to see how far we’ve come as an organization, not only for the LGBTQ+ community but for the disabilities and women’s communities.

“Everybody being able to be recognized and be seen in an organization and have representation inside that organization is huge,” says Terri. “Instead of just feeling like a number.”

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