Health First shows appreciation for the values, leadership and unique skills service members bring to the workforce
Event also kicked off 9th year of Health First’s Holiday Cards for Service Members Campaign.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Brevard County is home to tens of thousands of U.S. Veterans – and thousands more current active military members and their families.
Health First, the largest healthcare provider in Brevard County, and one of the largest employers in the region, is proud to partner with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves (ESGR) organization by joining their Statement of Support program.
This program allows organizations, like Health First, to show our appreciation for the values, leadership, and unique skills service members bring to the workforce by publicly supporting their transition to civilian careers.
The Statement of Support Program is the cornerstone of ESGR’s effort to gain and maintain employer support for the Guard and Reserve. The intent of the program is to increase employer support by encouraging employers to act as advocates for employee participation in the military. Supportive employers are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the Nation’s Guard and Reserve units.
Against the backdrop of flags representing all U.S. Armed Forces, Health First hosted a Veterans Day signing ceremony at Holmes Regional Medical Center. In addition to Health First and ESGR leaders, dozens of Health First associates who have served our country were also in attendance.
ESGR, an official Department of Defense office, was established in 1972 to promote cooperation and understanding between Reserve Component Service members and their civilian employers and to assist in the resolution of conflicts arising from an employee’s military commitment.
ESGR is supported by a network of nearly 3,000 volunteers in 54 committees located across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam-CNMI (Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Volunteers, hailing from small business and industry, government, education, and prior military service bring a vast wealth of experience to assist in serving employers, Service members, and their families. Together with Headquarters ESGR staff and a small cadre of support staff for each State Committee, volunteers work to promote and enhance employer support for military service in the Guard and Reserve.
“This event launches our partnership with the ESGR organization and shows our outward support for our associates and their participation in the military. Here at Health First, we realize supportive employers are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of our Nation’s Guard and Reserve units,” said Health First Chief Experience Officer Paula Just.
“We truly appreciate the values, leadership, and unique skills service members bring to the workforce and we always encourage opportunities to hire Guardsmen, Reservists, and veterans.”
U.S. Army Lt. Phil Albert, Chairman of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserves organization, today joined Health First to present the Statement of Support, and he described some of its values.
“Since its inception, hundreds of thousands of employers and managers have signed Statements of Support around the country, pledging their support to Guard and Reserve employees,” said Lt. Albert.
“Employers signing a statement of support pledge that:
‘We fully recognize, honor, and comply with the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. We will provide our managers and supervisors with the tools they need to effectively manage employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve. We appreciate the values, leadership, and unique skills Service members bring to the workforce and will encourage opportunities to hire Guardsmen, Reservists, and Veterans. And we will continually recognize and support our country’s Service members and their families, in peace, in crises, and in war.’”
Upon conclusion of the signing ceremony, Health First kicked off its annual associate card-signing program sending thanks and encouraging wishes to our service men and women currently serving around the world. Now in its 9th year, thousands of Health First associates annually participate in what’s become a tradition leading into the Thanksgiving holiday – with over 10,000 cards signed and delivered to date.
Many associates are either Veterans themselves – or are part of a military family. During the two-week program, card signing stations are set up at various Health First locations across Brevard County, where associates have the opportunity to write a personal message within their cards.
Judy Steele is a 7-year associate with Health First’s security team, and served in the U.S. Air Force from 1975-1979. She comes from a military family and now has a grandson serving in Texas. She says the level of support and appreciation her employer, Health First, shows to its associates who now – and have served in the military – highlights why she loves coming to work each day.
“Health First has been a phenomenal pivotal point for veterans in this area (Brevard County). I want to say a large majority of the people that work here are ex-military and some are still active-duty reservists. I’m just grateful to be a part of this team – I think this event – the ESGR signing and cards for our service men and women is fantastic,” said Steele.
“My oldest grandson is now in tech school at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. As a Veteran myself, this just makes me feel good.”
Michael Dones is a security associate who has been with Health First for nearly 2 years, after spending nearly 10 years in Minnesota in the security field. He served in the U.S. Air Force for 20 years – from 1985-2005.
“The show of support by Health First and our community really makes me feel good inside,” said Dones. “Back when I served, it made us feel special when people back home cared and that they were willing to send something to help us remember – and also to make us feel that we made a difference.”