From Soldiers to Civilians: U.S. Bank Helps Veterans Transition and Thrive
Photo by Wes Battoclette
Individuals who make the decision to join the United States military and dedicate all or part of their lives to national and international protection are often praised for their bravery and commitment. However, a common image of these veterans, when they return from their service, is often one of transitional confusion and a lost sense of purpose. Because transitioning from military life to the world of a civilian one is no easy task, veterans appreciate a little help.
U.S. Bank has a strategic initiative focused on helping these men and women transition and enrich the workforce of both the bank and the country. Through the Proud to Serve program, and a military leader rotational program, veterans are being welcomed into U.S. Bank with open arms while being taught the intricacies of the trade.
“When we started this in 2008...there were four main things we were trying to accomplish,” says Steve Mullin, Cincinnati market leader for The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank. “One was just to say thanks to the vets and their families. Two is to really make sure we develop industry-leading benefits for veterans and military families. The third reason, which is why these guys are here, is talent acquisition and career opportunities and the fourth reason was about what we can do for our local communities which includes showcasing veterans for their service to our country.”
The program offers veterans an opportunity to rotate throughout various department of U.S. Bank, learning each niche and determining for themselves where they enjoy working and their expertise. Mullin says that one of the goals of the program is to tap into a veteran’s trained skill set and utilize their abilities to be mission and teamwork oriented leaders, while providing veterans with a secure and stable professional environment during their transition to civilian life. “I think it’s been very helpful coming from the military into this environment, because in the military you learn how to think about complex and very ambiguous problems where there is no definitive answer,” says Vince Bernatis, a veteran in the rotational program.
“That’s something any organization looks for – someone who has a framework for how to go about solving these challenging problems.” Particularly because military members are recruited at such a young age, the values of leadership, problem-solving and teamwork are woven into the fabric of who a veteran is in the professional world. These skills can be utilized if programs allow concessions for the needs of veterans – military leave, relocation support, time off for integration classes or medical needs. This is what U.S. Bank is focused on, with the new rotational program growing each year. “These men and women bring incredible integrity, work ethic and focused can-do attitudes,” says Mullin. “It’s a privilege to work with them. I mean, honestly, they motivate me every day. The veterans in this country have everything any employer would want – any employer would be lucky to have these guys on their team. Our goal is just to give them some experience.”
Each veteran in the program today will be rotated through various steps of U.S. Bank, learning each area over the span of several months. However, Mullin says the program is strongly tailored to what each individual veteran needs and wants from their experience with U.S. Bank.
David Hein, a veteran who found his niche during the recruiting process, explains, “I was hired as a wealth management portfolio manager for The Private Client Reserve, and my role is to support our more senior portfolio managers as they develop investment plans for their clients. I was able to come to the city, plant some roots for the first time since I’ve been in the military and gain some professional development. I’m really getting a chance to decide what I’d like to do and what I’m best suited for,” says Hein.
As the veterans cycle through the different areas of the bank, they also come into contact with a wide variety of people, gaining not just a trade or set of skills, but an overall experience as well. “We’re moving them through the bank, and honestly, my counterparts are already coming back and saying ‘wow, these guys are great, when can I hire them?’” says Mullin. “Well, you can’t – they’re ours!”
The reality that, after just a few short months at U.S. Bank, managers are turning to see what these veterans are capable of doing is an intriguing concept for both the company and the veterans. It proves Mullin’s point that veterans possess all the skills necessary to be excellent employees, if only employers will provide them with opportunities. “Transitioning from the military is tough sometimes, just because it’s a very different line of work,” says Robert “Chip” Heidt, a veteran in the rotational program. “What we (veterans) look for is to have a purpose AND do something that is bigger than ourselves, both of which we found at U.S. Bank.”
The Private Client Reserve of U.S. Bank is located at 425 Walnut Street, Seventh Floor, Cincinnati, OH 45202. You can reach them at 800.727.1919 or visit their website at reserve.usbank.com.