Texas Medical Center Veterans Hiring Initiative Closes in on 600 New Hires
At an Oct. 19 ceremony, the Texas Workforce Commission presented the Texas Medical Center with a Texas Veterans Employer Award. The award celebrates the Texas Medical Center’s Hiring: Red, White & You! initiative designed to increase hiring of military veterans. At the presentation, from left, are: Willie French, director of talent acquisition for The Methodist Hospital; Tom Pauken, commissioner of the Texas Workforce Commission; Richard Wainerdi, Ph.D., Texas Medical Center president and CEO; Jennifer Smith, equal opportunity advisor at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; Pat Mitchell, Texas Medical Center senior vice president; Bob Gear, director of the Texas Veterans Leadership Program; Brian Wilson, human resources recruiter at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; and Anna Odell, senior recruiter at Texas Children’s Hospital.
When the Texas Medical Center announced earlier this year an initiative to hire more military veterans, representatives from member institutions quickly mobilized, making it their mission to remove roadblocks to employment for veterans and offer job opportunities.
Since the Texas Medical Center-wide Hiring: Red, White & You! initiative began, participating Texas Medical Center institutions have celebrated their share of victories.
Take, for example, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. In the first nine months of 2012, the university, which goes by the abbreviated name UTHealth, added more than 50 veterans to its faculty and staff.
Brian Wilson, a health care specialist in the U.S. Army, was among those hired. His mission: to help recruit more veterans like himself. As the newest member of UTHealth’s human resources department, he works directly with hiring managers and veterans to identify job opportunities. He also has formed UTHealth’s Military Veteran Program.
“After the military, I started working with nonprofit veteran groups. It’s inspiring to see veterans coming together to work on various issues in our community,” Wilson said. “I want to create a network of UTHealth veterans that works together to build a better community. This group will be the first of its kind at UTHealth, a diverse group of employees sharing a common background of service.”
Veterans Steven Flemming and Reyna Banfill have joined the university’s Center for Translational Injury Research. Working closely with John Holcomb, M.D., a retired Army Colonel and founder of the Hiring: Red, White & You! campaign, they are conducting research and collecting data that could ultimately improve outcomes for trauma patients – both civilians and military personnel injured on the battlefield.
“I have been a Corpsman for seven years, providing medical support for the Marine Corps in both Afghanistan and stateside,” said Flemming, now a reservist. “I also spent 3 years on an ambulance working EMS. Unfortunately, I saw a lot of traumatic injuries. I never thought that experience would lead to a career doing trauma research as an assistant.”
Flemming had been unemployed for three months when he learned about job opportunities at UTHealth through Hiring: Red, White & You!
“The initiative helped get me a job that I enjoy and allows me to provide for my family,” he said.
Banfill, a U.S. Army medic who served one tour in Iraq, said a job fair hosted by Hiring: Red, White & You! helped her land not one – but two – jobs at Texas Medical Center institutions. A recent graduate of the University of Houston, Banfill handed out her resume and talked to human resources representatives in between her own volunteer shifts at the Lone Star Veterans Association’s booth at the job fair last June.
“I was lucky to talk to someone at UTHealth,” Banfill said. “Now I’m working on a study that will benefit those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Her work as a data collector on UTHealth’s research team helped her get another part-time job as a patient care tech at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center.
“Houston is No. 2 for the number of returning veterans. That’s one of the reasons this TMC initiative is so important. There are so many veterans coming back and looking for jobs,” Banfill said. “But this isn’t just about jobs. It’s also providing stability and improving well-being for veterans.”
Francisco Sauceda, a former personnel officer in the U.S. Navy, was hired by the Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center, which as a Texas Medical Center institution elected to participate in Hiring: Red, White & You!
In his new role, Sauceda works with new hires during the pre-employment process, which allows him to welcome other newly hired veterans. His supervisor, human resources manager Rodney Green, says Sauceda brings “energy, passion and a thirst to learn” to work each day. Green is a member of the hiring and recruiting committee for Hiring: Red, White & You!
It’s people like Flemming, Banfill and Sauceda who are the very reason the Hiring: Red, White & You! initiative was launched, said Holcomb, who also is a trauma surgeon at the UTHealth Medical School and Memorial Hermann-TMC. “We appreciate their military service,” Holcomb said, “and we are proud that they are now serving at institutions throughout the Texas Medical Center.”
James H. “Red” Duke Jr., M.D., co-founder of the TMC veterans hiring initiative, a Korean War veteran and a professor of surgery at the UTHealth Medical School and Memorial Hermann-TMC, said TMC institutions are going the extra mile every day to hire veterans.
“Like a spark on dry timber, this effort started as a small fire but it quickly caught on, and now it’s blazing,” Duke said.
Holcomb and Duke will speak at a breakfast Nov. 8 during which the Texas Medical Center and its member institutions will recognize military veterans hired recently as a result of the Hiring: Red, White & You! initiative. The breakfast takes place from 8 to 10 a.m. at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Mid Campus Building, 7007 Bertner.
In addition, the Texas Workforce Commission presented the Texas Medical Center with a Texas Veterans Employer Award for its Hiring: Red, White & You! initiative during the commission’s Texas Business Conference Oct. 19 in Galveston. This year to date, Texas Medical Center institutions have hired 574 veterans.
For more information on Hiring: Red, White & You! and for additional hyperlinks to organizations and agencies that assist veterans with job searches and career training,visit http://texasmedicalcenter.org/texas-medical-center-careers.