Michigan Health Centers Celebrate Veterans and Give Back through Employment Opportunities

As we celebrated Veterans Day on November 11, we took time to honor the millions of service men and women across the country who have served or are currently serving our country, including the nearly 700,000 veterans who call Michigan home. Thank you for your brave service and dedication to this country.

All too often America’s veterans find themselves unemployed and even homeless when they return. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the rate of unemployment among veterans is higher than their civilian counterparts. Working at a Health Center offers veterans a unique opportunity to continue serving as team members who provide valuable skills. To connect talented veterans with employment opportunities at America’s Health Centers, President Barack Obama launched the Hiring our Heroes initiative in 2011, challenging the nationwide network of Health Centers to hire 8,000 veterans by 2014. In Michigan, Governor Rick Snyder recently proclaimed November as Hire a Veteran Month.

Michigan Health Centers are striving to help meet President Obama’s challenge by providing employment opportunities for returning service men and women. Health Delivery, Inc., recently hired two veterans as outreach and enrollment specialists who help consumers understand and enroll in the new insurance options provided by the Affordable Care Act. From their years of military service, these two new Health Center staff members bring loyalty, dedication, and compassion to assisting their uninsured neighbors in connecting with affordable insurance coverage that increases access to health care.

In the Greater Grand Rapids area, Cherry Street Health Services employs veterans in many capacities, including as a patient services program supervisor, systems manager in the Information Systems Department, clinical quality coordinator, and client benefits specialist. In West Michigan, Mercy Health-Saint Mary’s Community Health Centers currently employs one veteran who serves as a bookkeeper/accountant and another who is the lead community health worker serving as a liaison between health and social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve quality of service delivery. Also in West Michigan, Hackley Community Care Center’s chief medical officer and chief operating officer are military veterans who have worked at the Health Center for many years. Additionally, Hackley Community Care Center employs veterans in positions ranging from community health workers to administrative assistants to receptionists, demonstrating that miltary veterans are valuable assets to have in all positions within an organization.

The ranks of employed veterans at the Center for Family Health has steadily increased over the past year. Former military personnel working at this organization, which operates Health Centers in Jackson Count, now serve as medical assistants, health coaches, dentists, administrative assistants, and receptionists. In Detroit, Community Health & Social Services Center (CHASS) employs an Army veteran in the accounting department. In Northern Michigan‘s  Traverse Health Clinic, the medication access specialist, a former veteran, is instrumental to patient care by helping distribute over $3 million in prescription medication to the Health Center’s patients each year. In the Upper Peninsula, a licensed practical nurse working at Upper Great Lakes Family Health Center previously served as a nurse in the Air Force. These are just a few examples of how returning service members can use their skills and experience to protect and serve those most in need in their hometown communities.

Veteran Employment Resources for Health Centers

To help Health Centers reach the goal set forth by President Obama in 2011, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) partnered to create a wealth of resources  to guide Health Centers’  efforts in hiring veterans. One such resource is the Hiring Veterans: A Step-by-Step Toolkit for Employers.  NACHC also negotiated an agreement with the Uniformed Services Health Professional Placement program to provide discounted clinician referral services exclusively for current and former military clinicians.

Additionally, the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency compiled a list of suggestions for honoring veterans. MPCA also recently hosted a webinar focused on Hiring a Veteran into Your Health Center and stores a wealth of recruitment and retention resources in its online Education & Resource Center.

Veterans Day is a day to give thanks to all the men and women who have fought bravely for this country. It is a time to honor their accomplishments and memorialize those who have fallen in the line of duty. On Veterans Day and every day, we salute the troops who make our world a safer place. Thank you, veterans. MPCA and Michigan Health Centers commend your service and dedication. Your sacrifice will never be forgotten.

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