Blue Cross Named a Veteran-Friendly Employer by Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency

Leadership, teamwork, decision-making skills, integrity and commitment.

These are just some of the many attributes veterans bring to a workplace, said Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Customer Service Team Lead Judy Crutcher.

“I’m not saying all vets are perfect, but most people don’t go into the military just for fun,” she said.

Crutcher should know. She served in the Army during the mid-70s and enlisted as a way to see the world. Military service runs in the family: Her father was in the National Guard, some of her uncles served in World War II, she met her husband through the military, and their son has participated in two tours of duty in Iraq.

Employees who have military backgrounds are disciplined and used to working with all different types of people, something that makes them invaluable, Crutcher explained. She said lessons learned through her military service have served her well during her 26-year career at Blue Cross.

“I find it exciting to have people who are different because it adds so much to the workplace,” she said.

More veterans like Crutcher will soon be joining the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan employee ranks. The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) recently recognized BCBSM as a bronze-level veteran-friendly employer, a certification that only 19 other Michigan companies hold. As part of the designation, Blue Cross has committed to increasing the number of veterans we hire.

Jody Guastella Jones works in BCBSM’s Talent Acquisition and Diversity Recruiting area. She said earning the designation is the first step in a large push to hire, retain, and promote talented veteran employees.

“We are an employer who embraces veteran hiring and we want to attract veterans to our jobs,” Jones said.

As an organization, Blue Cross has stepped up efforts to attend veteran recruiting events and to support veteran job seekers through resume writing workshops, general outreach, and transition assistance to veteran groups. Executive leadership has also devoted resources to support veteran employment through the Talent 2025 initiative in West Michigan.

The recognition program is only about a year old, as the MVAA was formed two years ago. Silver- and gold- level recognition for companies is also available, something Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is committed to strive toward.

“By having veteran-friendly employers, we’re making Michigan a better place to live and work,” said Kristina Leonardi, MVAA director of strategy.

A silver designation is earned after an employer hits the hiring goals established at the bronze level. Establishing an internship or on-the-job training program is also a requirement at the silver level. A gold distinction is earned when an employer can show they’ve retained 75 percent of the veterans they’ve hired through the program. To keep the silver and gold designations, employers must meet all requirements from the previous levels and continually strive to work with MVAA employment analysts to determine an appropriate level of veteran hiring within a company.

To learn more about veteran-friendly employers in Michigan, visit the MVAA’s website.

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Photo credit: Sam Howzit

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