11-14-2013 07:08 AM
Eric Hilliard, event planner, Enterprise Affairs
By Eric Hilliard, event planner, Enterprise Affairs
I have been part of the USAA family for more than 20 years — first as a member, and now as a recently hired veteran.
After my time in the Air Force, working at USAA was one of my top two choices for a second career. The other was teaching.
I joined USAA in September 2012 as part of a special program — Combat to Claims — for veterans who are transitioning into the civilian workforce. I have to admit that going from being a leader in the military to being unemployed to getting a job that didn't exactly fit my skill set was not easy. The level of responsibility was different. The level of authority was different. The level of freedom I had to take time off or enjoy a hot meal was different. It was almost like I was starting all over again.
I will say this: Thank God for putting me in the right place at the right time and surrounding me with the right people. I was so thankful for the retired Army master sergeant who welcomed me and my teammates in the program. He took an interest in making sure all 16 of us made a successful transition to the corporate world as total-loss adjusters for USAA.
Although this initial transition was a big one, I quickly found out that it would not be the last transition I would make.
Exactly one year after starting my career with USAA as a total-loss representative, I have undergone yet another transition: I was recently selected to join the Enterprise Affairs team as an event planner. Can you say, "Wow!"?
To that end, I am so grateful to my former supervisors who recognized that though I was providing a valuable service to our members as an adjuster, my specific talents and expertise (I was a public affairs officer in the Air Force) would best serve the membership in other areas of the organization.
I am not too sure that there are any other companies out there who would take such an interest in one individual — but I am thankful to be the recipient of such an honor.
So, on this Veterans Day, my heart is filled with thanks.
I am thankful for the men and women in this organization who took an interest in me as an individual and as a military veteran. I am thankful that I get to work for an organization that is completely dedicated to serving people like me — the service member. I am thankful for the veterans who laid the foundation for me and made it possible for people like me to have an opportunity to succeed. And I am thankful for USAA's effort to reach out and specifically target separating or retiring military members and their spouses for employment. As that program continues to evolve, I would love to see a more holistic approach applied to taking care of our military veterans — as it will not only benefit us as individual employees, but the entire USAA team and, most importantly, our members.
Thank you, USAA, for making this possible and for the opportunity you've given me and continue to give to others.
Eric Hilliard entered the Air Force in 1992. He is a certified Air Traffic Controller and Airfield Manager. Among numerous leadership roles in the military before joining USAA, Eric served as Deputy Director of Public Affairs and Chief of Media Operations for the Air Force Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. He also served as Chief of Public Affairs Operations and Strategic Planning for U.S. Africa Command, the nation's newest Geographic Combatant Command. While there, he was the command's first Chief of Social Media.
Originally posted on Nov. 11, 2013