Companies Honored for Vet-Friendly Practices

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Bon Secours Virginia Health System, Citi, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and USAA are the winners of the Work Life Legacy Military Award from the Families and Work Institute (FWI).

Recipients were singled out by a 14-member panel of judges for their outstanding efforts to hire and support transitioning service members and their families. It’s the only award, said FWI.

President Ellen Galinksy, which spotlights companies that support services for veterans and their families undergoing the transition from military to civilian life, as well as companies’ veteran hiring and retaining initiatives.

“This is an issue the Families and Work Institute has cared about for a long time,” she commented during a July 30, 2012, news conference to announce the winners. Galinsky cited unemployment statistics that “reflect a pretty bleak reality.” Even though more vets are being hired—the unemployment rate for young veterans was 13.3 percent in June 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it fell in June 2012 to 9.5 percent—their rate of unemployment is still higher than the national unemployment rate of 8.3 percent. More than 2 million veterans are expected to transition to the civilian workforce by 2016.

Adm. Michael Mullen, retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and FWI board member, noted the “great potential” of the young generation that is returning from military service.

It is “a generation that has met huge challenges, that has shown me that they are wired to serve,” he said during the press conference. “Even the ones who’ve been wounded, their dreams haven’t changed. They want to have a family, raise kids, go to good schools. A vast majority, like most of America, will require two incomes” to do so.

Working to Hire Veterans

Building partnerships—sometimes with competitors—that focus on hiring and supporting veterans transitioning into the civilian work world was a common thread among award winners.

USAA, an insurance provider for military families that started in 1922 with 25 Army officers, has strategic partnerships with more than 30 veteran-focused organizations. Citi, the international financial conglomerate, participates in Veterans on Wall Street (VOWS), partnering with its competitors to share best practices.

In March 2011, the global financial services firm JPMorgan Chase & Co. and 10 other firms launched the 100,000 Jobs Mission to collectively hire 100,000 service members by 2020 and raise national awareness of the issue; the coalition now has 59 members. The coalition has hired 18,429 transitioning service members and veterans since June 30, 2012.

“We all have a lot to learn from each other,” said Maureen Casey, executive director of JPMorgan Chase’s Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, “and from building these partnerships and collaborating we can do a lot better job helping these transitioning veterans.”

Jim Godwin, HR director at Bon Secours, pointed to Hero Health Hire (HHH), a coalition of companies and other entities in the health care industry that it joined in July 2012. The goal of HHH, launched in Washington, D.C., at a 2011 industry summit, is to employ and retain wounded warriors and veterans.

Most of Bon Secours’ approximately 100 military employees are members of the National Guard or Army Reserve and usually return to the same shift they worked before they were deployed, Godwin said.

He spoke highly of them as employees, noting how they value teamwork and diversity and their “keen ability to adapt to adversity.”

Best Practices in Hiring Veterans

These employers were honored for their efforts:

Bon Secours Virginia Health System, which has seven hospitals and more than 12,000 employees. Its efforts include a model training program of 1,500 military radiology students; implementing workplace flexibility for military employees and their families; implementing a management training and employee assistance programs that educate and support managers on how to assist veterans in transitioning to Bon Secours; and producing a monthly employee newsletter that often highlights how military employees are integrated in a welcoming way.

Citi created Citi Salutes, a one-stop resource for the military community and workforce, with career, money management and finance tips. Its North America Service Initiative trained and mobilized more than 500 employee volunteers at 14 sites in the U.S. to help transitioning service members and their families. Citi also established mentoring programs, and the companywide Military Veterans Employee Network that connects new service member employees with experienced managers who serve as guides during the transition to the workplace and throughout their careers at Citi.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. has dedicated hiring teams and relationships with military bases, the National Guard and Army Reserve and uses “high-touch” recruiting practices to ensure every veteran applicant receives a call within five days to discuss their resume, job opportunities and next steps. It developed and participates in training and mentoring programs to bridge the gap between military and civilian cultures and promotes economic growth and development of veteran-owned suppliers. It co-founded the Institute for Veterans and Military Families with Syracuse University, which houses educational programs such as the entrepreneurship boot camp for disabled vets. It supports the tuition-free Veterans Technology Program at Syracuse’s School of Information Studies for post-9/11 veterans seeking related careers at large corporations.

USAA has a preferential hiring priority for veterans and military spouses. Its Military Hiring and Transition Initiative and a Military Talent Management team is staffed and led by veterans whose responsibilities range from hiring to onboarding to professional development. It created entry-level hiring models with development opportunities, such as the Property and Casualty Claims Team, for military members returning to civilian life. It built leadership training models such as the Junior Military Officer Career Development Program. It established complementary programs for veterans and their spouses and offers benefits such as its military spouse Work From Home program.

FWI also recognized four honorable mention recipients: Deloitte, General Electric Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., and Verizon Communications. 

The four winning organizations and four honorable mention recipients will be honored at FWI’s annual Work Life Legacy Award dinner on Sept. 19, 2012, in New York City.

Galinsky also pointed to the following organizations that will be recognized at the dinner for the “promising practices” they have instituted on behalf of returning military members and their families: Bank of America, Brighter Horizons, Capitol One, Cardinal Health,, Cornell University, Deutsche Bank, FINRA, Merck, Northrop Grumman and the University of Phoenix.

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. To read the original article, please click here.