FRANKFORT, Ky. — Connected Nation (CN) honored Colonel M. Blaine Hedges, USA (Retired) on Monday, Aug. 19, with the 2019 Broadband Visionary Award. This prestigious, national award recognizes individuals who demonstrate exceptional and innovative leadership in the application of broadband and its related technologies.
“Colonel Hedges saw early on how high-speed internet could help address a chronic challenge facing our nation’s military spouses and veterans,” said Tom Ferree, chairman & CEO, Connected Nation. “Right now, these groups are facing crushing unemployment and wage gaps that present real hardships for the families of those who bravely serve this nation. By understanding how broadband can provide a gateway to flexible, remote-based telework employment opportunities, Colonel Hedges is helping bring a viable solution to these unique challenges—especially for military spouses who are required to move multiple times in support of their active duty loved ones.”
Through its Digital Works (DW) program, Connected Nation offers an innovative workforce development program that connects people to leading-edge customer support and IT jobs for global corporations by providing training, mentorship, and job placement assistance, as well as the opportunity for advanced careers. Connected Nation has partnerships with more than 70 companies that provide online and work-at-home opportunities for DW graduates.
Col. Hedges played a crucial role in helping launch the DW pilot program in the Fort Knox area that was specifically tailored for the military community.
“Colonel Hedges has been a driving force in helping Kentucky become the most military-friendly state in America,” said Gov. Matt Bevin. “His passion for this nation’s military families and veterans, coupled with his incredible work ethic, has had an immeasurable impact on the Commonwealth’s military community. We are grateful for Colonel Hedges’ forward-thinking leadership, and we anticipate great things from this servant leader moving forward.”
“Thanks to his support, strong connections within the military community, and his commitment to helping military families, our initial two cohorts of military spouses and veterans was a resounding success,” said Ferree. “Each graduate went on to secure work-at-home opportunities that they will be able to take with them whenever they move. We look forward to building on these results and vision to drive continued impact for these individuals and their families.”
“I am humbled to receive such a prestigious honor,” said Colonel Hedges. “It has been a pleasure collaborating with such an esteemed group of professionals to assist our military community in securing valued employment. This initiative has been instrumental to not only national security, but also to ensuring military spouses and veterans maintain the standard of living they deserve. The Digital Works platform is very unique, and I believe it must be implemented across America.”
Past honorees of the Broadband Visionary Award include former Iowa governor and current U.S. ambassador to China Terry Branstad, who received the award in 2017. The governor worked to bring broadband accessibility and was among the first in the nation to establish a state broadband communications network.
Colonel Hedges has served as the Kentucky Cabinet on Military Affairs executive director and was previously appointed by Gov. Matt Bevin as commissioner of the State Council for Kentucky’s Military Interstate Children’s Compact Commission (MIC3). He has nearly 30 years of decorated military service, which includes commander of the 7th Brigade, United States Army Cadet Command at Fort Knox.