Advia Credit Union is committed to hiring and supporting local veterans.
The Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) has taken notice, recognizing the $3 billion asset credit union in Kalamazoo, Mich., with a Silver-Level Employer for Veterans certification. This is given to companies that have made efforts to employ veterans and provide a supportive, inclusive work environment.
“It’s a sincere focus,” says Kilee Gardner, manager of talent acquisition, noting the credit union was upgraded from the bronze to silver level this year. “It's a deliberate, intentional thing for us to be inclusive to veterans and veteran families.”
One vulnerable moment for many veterans is their transition into the civilian workforce. Advia Talent Acquisition Partner Nate Rupe, an Army veteran and former flight paramedic, says the U.S. military has improved its reintegration training for servicemembers, but there’s still room for improvement.
“It’s a different culture and work environment for a lot of veterans,” says Rupe. “Sometimes it’s a total culture shock. Veterans don't have their buddies around anymore, so it’s about putting them in a situation where they have someone to talk to and resources they can use to help them take back control during their transition.”
The credit union creates that environment in a variety of ways throughout the employment process. Advia posts openings on veteran-friendly job boards, including WhyMI, a veteran-friendly app that breaks Michigan into sections and displays veteran-friendly employers in the area.
“We want to make sure we're transparent with people that we’re open to veterans and veteran families,” Gardner says, noting Advia displays the MVAA certification on its career page. “We want to see your resume, we want you to apply with us, and we understand there are circumstances surrounding career moves. It's about making sure veterans know there are companies that want to support them. We exhibit inclusion so everybody knows they have a home here.”
The credit union also offers an Employee Veteran Connector Kit, a physical and digital kit linking veterans with contacts and resources compiled by the MVAA. Veterans can use the kit to connect with volunteer and consultation groups, veteran bonding opportunities, education benefits, mental health resources, suicide awareness kits, and more.
The MVAA also assists veterans with building resumes that show companies what they did in the service, and that how that translates to the civilian workforce.
“The biggest hurdle is getting that information to the veteran population prior to them finding themselves in a time crunch to look for employment,” Rupe says. “Our veterans do a lot for our country, and the best we can do for them is give back however we can.”
“Veterans bring a unique and valuable set of skills to the workplace, such as leadership, teamwork, and attention to detail,” says Advia President/CEO Jeff Fielder. “These are all assets that help to better serve our members, and are traits Advia looks for in our employees. As an organization and team, we become stronger as a result.”