The Philadelphia Business Journal named Desa Burton, Assistant General Counsel for InterDigital, a 2017 “Veteran of Influence.” The honor was fitting for Burton, but also reflects an accomplishment that will assist many other veterans in the tri-state area. Burton is leading a new initiative conceived and sponsored by mobile technology innovation pioneer, InterDigital, along with JoAnne Schultze and Launia Terry from Liberty USO, which is focused on STEM education for transitioning military service members and veterans.

As a Board Member of Liberty USO on its Career Transitions Committee, Burton advocates for fellow service members by coordinating access to education in the growing tech field. Through the support and partnership of InterDigital and Liberty USO, Zip Code Wilmington will provide technical training and job placement assistance for veterans and military spouses transitioning into a career in technology with a new benefit: full scholarships for select service members.

Understanding the Dilemma

It’s a well-known fact that veterans sacrifice their safety and time to serve our country and allow many of us to feel safe. Many veterans return home with the hope of education, but not all are able to realize that goal.

2015 survey by Syracuse University found that 53 percent of service members felt their military service was primarily motivated by education benefits. But a far fewer number completed a degree program. Participants cited reasons such as inadequate financial resources (56%); conflict with personal or family obligations (28%); expiration of GI Bill benefits prior to degree completion (25%); issues related to wellness and/or disability (23%); and conflict between employment and school (22%) as barriers to educational persistence and attainment.

There has been a national push to create programs that cater to the unique needs of veterans upon their transition into civilian life that focus on education and employment because many are highly skilled, but need help translating their military skills to the private sector.

Why the Partnership Works

The United Service Organizations of Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, Inc. (Liberty USO) has diligently served the needs of the active duty, National Guard and reserve military personnel and their families throughout Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey for more than seventy-six years. The organization has been the bridge between the civilian population and our soldiers.

The partnership with Zip Code Wilmington is no different.

Zip Code Wilmington’s commitment to educating career-ready individuals for open technology positions fits seamlessly into the plan for military, guard, or reserve service members in the process of seeking new careers. Many veterans seek civilian positions that provide consistency and financial stability, which technology and STEM careers provide.

In conclusion, the win for Desa Burton has been a win for veterans throughout the tri-state area. This new initiative can transform the lives of many looking to find meaningful careers after transitioning from the military.

Zip Code Wilmington is thrilled to help those who served!

To get more information about USO scholarships, contact Launia Terry, Career Transition Manager, at