Anyone who has been around veterans knows they’re like-minded and share a common bond. It’s one reason organizations are creating employee resource groups (ERGs) that bring veterans and those who support them together while also supporting the organization’s mission.
Maryanne Kolisnyk never served in the military, but she considers herself “an extremely proud patriot.” For that reason, she joined VyStar Credit Union’s veterans VyStar Resource Group (VRG).
VyStar, with more than $13 billion in assets and based in Jacksonville, Fla., has a long history of serving the military. It was chartered in 1952 as Jax Navy Federal Credit Union and now supports more than 30 military-themed initiatives each year. As a military and specialty products manager, Kolisnyk says the group fits well with her job. “Our stated purpose is to assist in the development and execution of strategies to support employee engagement, professional development, and institutional networking while also engaging in the community and outreach within the veteran community,” says Kolisynk.
The group, which has 85 members. holds monthly meetings. Among its community activities are participating in parades, personally thanking veterans for their service, and assisting in the refurbishing of a ship for the Jacksonville Naval Museum.
“It’s a wonderful way to highlight the great things that VyStar does military-wise, and it gives us an important veteran presence in the community,” Kolisnyk says. “People are constantly thanking them for their service to the country. It’s nice that they are recognized for what they did before they came to VyStar.”
In July, the Credit Union Association of New Mexico (CUANM) announced a partnership with the Defense Credit Union Council (DCUC) to create CUheroes, an ERG dedicated to serving the veterans and first responders of New Mexico’s credit union industry.
The group is one of CUANM’s association-supported, employee-led ERGs, says Juan E. Fernández Ceballos, president/CEO of CUANM.
Kim Stark, director of foundation and development for CUANM, says the organizations are surveying potential participants and establishing a charter process for the veterans ERG.
“CUheroes can provide a supportive and familiar community where members can share experiences, develop their careers, and rise as leaders,” Stark says.
Yvonne Alaniz-Carpentier, chief financial officer at $854 million asset First Financial Credit Union in Albuquerque, N.M., and the ERG chair, agrees with Stark.
“The camaraderie you feel with a fellow veteran is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” says Alaniz-Carpentier, who served in the Air Force. “Being able to lean on each other and depend on one another is important in completing a mission in the military. This also serves the credit union mission of bringing people and communities together.