Blue Cross Supports Veterans Through Employee Group, Recruiting Efforts
Some say it’s a cliché, but it is still true; being in the military is like joining an extended family.
About four years ago, a small group of us decided to try to perpetuate that feeling of camaraderie here at Blue Cross. We knew there was an underserved community and starting the Veterans Employee Resource Network (ERN) was the answer. At the beginning we only had about 20 members, now it is well over 200 and growing. Our doors are open to vets and to non-vets. Usually, the non-vets know someone who is or was in the service and see it as a way of honoring and supporting that person.
The Veterans ERN is interested in increasing awareness about the vet community, which includes their family and friends. Within the group, we promote connecting and building contacts both from a business sense and a personal one. Recruiting and retaining veterans is also one of ERN’s goals. Vets make great employees, because we put the same purpose of mission, dedication and collaboration used in the military and apply it to our civilian work.
I took the role of executive sponsor because, as a vet myself, I see it as chance to give back. Through recognizing and validating a veteran’s experiences, we are increasing awareness about what members of the military encounter as they transition to and work in private sector jobs.
I’m glad to see the social mission of Blue Cross includes supporting mental health access. It’s one of the factors that keeps us a vet-friendly company. The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency uses an Olympic-like system to rank companies on how well they serve the veteran community. We’re at bronze level now but are working to move to silver in the new year. It’s exciting to see how far we’ve come, what we are doing now and the plans we have for our veterans’ community at Blue Cross.
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Bill Plies is vice president of corporate planning and supporting leader of the Veterans Employee Resource Network at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.
Main image photo credit: asiseeit