Colonial Life sees value of military veterans in workforce

A military tour for HR professionals showcased leadership and training experiences of military veterans.

Colonial Life building

Which companies are looking to hire professionals with strong work ethic, dedication to teamwork and goal-setting, sterling leadership qualities, a strong sense of community and a long list of accomplishments?

All of them.

And human resource professionals at Unum have found a treasure-trove of potential employees with those skills among the servicemen and servicewomen of the U.S. military.

“The military comprises a rich and diverse work force. Unum appreciates this diversity as a distinct marketplace advantage. Also, veterans are trained to be accountable and honest, to lead and respect leadership, to be resourceful, to make good business decisions and to set high goals for themselves and others,” said Brigitte Emmons Touchette, director of staffing at Unum.

“These skills are perfectly aligned with Unum’s leadership expectations.”

Debbie Truluck, a senior staffing consultant based at Colonial Life, recently saw those skills on display by attending a Boss Lift. The event, which happens across the country, is an effort by the Department of Defense to showcase the leadership, management and technical training provided to employees who serve their country through the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve.

Debbie and about 30 representatives of other employers were invited to visit McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Sumter and Joint Base Charleston. The employers toured the National Guard facility (which included an Apache helicopter and a G-force suit), traveled to Charleston on a Chinook helicopter, toured the Charleston joint base (which included a C-17 Globemaster) and the Naval Weapons Station.

“It was a life-changing experience,” Debbie said. “I’m still in awe. “It was an opportunity for them to share what they do. They weren’t asking us for anything.”

Debbie was impressed by the teamwork and the camaraderie exhibited by all of the servicemen and servicewomen they met. When meeting the numerous personnel responsible for the C-17, for example, every one of them described their job in terms of the pilots’ safety.

“It was a unique opportunity to see the connectivity – the impact each role has on the next person,” Debbie said. “It’s given me such a greater awareness of how much difference military personnel can make in a professional workplace.”

Military personnel on active or reserve duty are covered under Unum’s military leave policy for a leave of up to five years. For active military personnel, Unum makes up the difference between military pay and employee pay for up to 12 months per leave, and offers continued medical and dental insurance and life insurance during that period. For those on reserve duty, Unum makes up the difference between employee pay and military pay for up to two weeks each year. Those who serve generally remain employed in their current jobs and have training made available to refresh skills.

The company doesn’t keep an active count of how many active-duty and retired military personnel employed by Colonial Life and Unum. However, there is an informal veterans group of 42 that stays connected at the Columbia office under the leadership of Ed Tilden, a sales training and development consultant.

Ed said the group shares contact information with one another as a way to make new friends and learn best practices. The group also collects items for the U.S.O. and local veteran’s hospital, and supports Hero Mail operations. They stay connected through a Sharepoint site and email distribution list so they can communicate on topics of interest and importance to them.

Brigitte said the company is reaching out and sharing job opportunities through various military job boards, through partnerships with AcademyWomen, The Wounded Warrior Project and the Bobby Dodd Institute. As a member of the 100K Jobs Coalition, Unum is one of 160 companies committed to sharing opportunities and talent across a broad spectrum of industries and locations.

Both Colonial Life and Unum US recognize those employees with military experience with an annual Veterans Day celebration. And Debbie and Brigitte said they see opportunities for the company to expand its engagement with active and retired military personnel through recruitment, support and training for future positions (through skills such as resume-writing).

There’s plenty of opportunity. According to G.I. Jobs, a service that works to connect military veterans with private sector jobs, there are about 400,000 returning service members every year.

“I hope we can keep the momentum going,” Debbie said.

About Colonial Life

Colonial Life & Accident Insurance Company is a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, dental, cancer, critical illness and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. The company’s benefit services and education, innovative enrollment technology and personal service support more than 80,000 businesses and organizations, representing more than 3 million of America’s workers and their families. For more information visit www.coloniallife.com or connect with the company at www.facebook.com/coloniallifebenefits, www.twitter.com/coloniallife and www.linkedin.com/company/colonial-life.