For 20 years, "home" for Kay Schwartz, a human resources executive director in Tampa, had been the U.S. Air Force. When she retired, Schwartz wondered if she would ever find a similar support network. Shortly after starting to work for USAA nearly six years ago, Schwartz knew she had found her way home.
"The Air Force hadn't just been a job. It was a lifestyle," says Schwartz. "At USAA, I didn't feel the exact same lifestyle, but, rather, a strong appreciation and respect for it. They were committed to understanding my service and making me comfortable."
Part of what helped the transition was USAA’s veterans group, VETNet, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this month.
For Robert Warren, lead account manager for Military Affinity, participating in VETNet was also a "no-brainer." Within a year of becoming an employee 10 years ago, Warren started getting involved in VETNet programs such as the Veterans Sponsorship Program, which provides cross-functional sponsorship and mentorship opportunities to newly hired veterans.
"While the military doesn't define my entire life, I like to stay connected," says Warren, an Army intelligence veteran. "Years later, I'm a part of VETNet's core leadership team as communications director. I love that we can ask and answer questions of veterans to help them make a smooth transition. It is key to post-service success. And a decade in, I'm thrilled to be a part of it."
The employee resource group has assisted veterans and military spouses in their transition to USAA, while supporting the company’s mission by helping non-military employees understand what it means to serve.
VETNet has influenced the development of several veteran talent programs, including Combat-to-Claims and VetsLeaD. Both programs recruit transitioning or recently transitioned veterans and provide occupation-specific training that supports meaningful civilian careers.
Schwartz directly supports Combat-to-Claims efforts in Tampa.
"USAA understands that even without customer service experience, veterans bring a certain acumen to the table, even if the work environment is new," she said. "Also, this started at a time when unemployment among veterans was at an all-time high."
National veteran unemployment is now down to about 3.3 percent, and Combat-to-Claims has done its part. This year, with VETNet's support, the Tampa campus has brought in 70 pre-screened veterans for job interviews, including hiring an entire cohort of 16 veterans at a recent recruitment event this summer.
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