In a career, certain moments stick for a lifetime. During financial center specialist Nancy Scherwitz's 37-year tenure at USAA, one of those moments came in April when she handed a senior West Point cadet a silver dollar for the cadet’s first salute at graduation. This wasn’t just any exchange. It was the first silver dollar a USAA Financial Center had ever given an academy graduate.
“I got teary, and then she got teary,” says Scherwitz. “It was just as emotional for me as it was for her.”
Until this year, USAA had never been a part of the First Salute tradition, where a newly commissioned officer presents a silver dollar to the first enlisted service member who salutes them. That’s because USAA Financial Centers handle cash through on-site ATMs and do not carry silver dollars for purchase since they don’t have tellers. So when a cadet or midshipman came in looking to buy a silver dollar, employees would have to turn them away.
This didn’t feel right to employees like Scherwitz and Greg Dyson, senior military academy relationship advisor at West Point, who take care of young members during their time in the academy. These and other employees pushed for change.
“The changes happened because the Financial Center employees and Military Affairs were persistent, innovative, knew the local market and understood the unique traditions of the customer base they serve,” said Nicole Nebergall, with the financial center.
“Employees saw an opportunity to make the member experience better, to show members that we truly understand what it means to serve,” adds George Rosen. “We’re making the last touch point with them memorable before they embark on their careers.”
For Char Ewald, a financial center specialist in Colorado Springs, this program further strengthens the connection USAA has with its members.
“We’re now part of the rich history and tradition of the First Salute,” she says. “The coin is a symbol of that lasting relationship we have with our members.”