June 20, 2012

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Kicks off Program to Connect Veterans with Opportunities

Guest speaker, retired Marine sergeant, tells employers that veterans are ‘an asset’

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana on Monday kicked off a new program, Mission Louisiana Care—Hiring America’s Veterans, designed to connect veterans’ service organizations and community groups to hiring managers at the state’s largest domestic insurer and other employers statewide.

“Everyone asks, ‘What can we do to help our veterans?’” said Mike Reitz, Blue Cross president and CEO. “We need organizations like Mission Louisiana Care to provide support groups for veterans and their families. We need to better serve those who have served us.”

Reitz is asking employers throughout Louisiana to join Blue Cross and help increase employment opportunities for veterans. For Monday’s event, Blue Cross invited representatives of veterans’ groups and community organizations to meet recruiters and hiring managers in person at the company’s Baton Rouge headquarters.

The keynote speaker was Ranger Andrew Goodrich, accompanied by his K-9 Ranger, Charity. Goodrich, age 25, is a retired Marine who suffered a traumatic brain injury and spinal cord issues during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was paralyzed from his neck down and reading and writing at a third-grade level when he returned to the United States.

After going through surgery and rehabilitation, and with help from Charity, he is now a Wounded Warrior Liaison, Operation Guardian Program Manager and coordinator of Law Enforcement, Security and Emergency Services with the National Park Service, where he runs 397 parks.

“Veterans are not stupid,” Goodrich said. “They are extremely smart individuals who operate some of the most complex computer systems in the world and deal with the highest levels of stress imaginable on a daily basis.”

When asked what most hurts veterans trying to enter the civilian workforce, Goodrich said resumes are a major factor. Most veterans’ resumes are written in “war language” and need to be translated to fit the corporate workplace. Goodrich asked employers to try to find more places for veterans in their companies and to provide trained counselors who can help translate their resumes for them.

“Hiring veterans can be about both profits and patriotism,” Goodrich said. He noted that the unemployment rate for veterans as of October 2011 is 30.4%—that’s three times the national average. “They are serving our country and protecting their families as well as yours, and we have nothing to give them when they return,” he said.

But, he added, “When it comes to hiring veterans, it’s not about feeling sorry for them or even their disability. It’s about their work ethic and talent. They are an asset.”

Mission Louisiana Care—Hiring America’s Veterans is designed to increase employment opportunities for veterans in several ways:

  • By educating company Human Resources personnel and hiring managers on the benefits of hiring veterans;
  • By tapping into community resources to identify a pool of promising veteran candidates;
  • By establishing partnerships with other employers statewide to hire veterans;
  • And by collaborating with veterans groups’ to provide support services.

“We stand committed to this effort and urge all of you here today—both internal and external—to pledge your support to get our veterans back on the job,” Reitz said.

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Founded in New Orleans in 1934, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is the oldest and largest Louisiana-based health insurance company. Blue Cross is a private, fully taxed mutual company, owned by policyholders—not shareholders—and governed by a local Board of Directors. It is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.

The company and its subsidiaries provide group and individual health insurance plans, life and disability insurance, group voluntary products and administrative services to more than one out of every four Louisiana residents. With headquarters in Baton Rouge and eight district offices, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana employs more than 1,900 Louisianians who are committed to improving the lives of its customers by providing them with health guidance and affordable access to quality care.

Learn more on the company's website at www.bcbsla.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bluecrossla. Follow Blue Cross on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BCBSLA and CEO Mike Reitz at www.twitter.com/MikeReitzCEO