By David A. Lee, Colonel, US Army (retired)
As our country prepares to celebrate our nation‚Äôs veterans, it is only fitting that I take time to highlight the innovative work by CVS Health to support the military community. I had the honor of joining this company 18 months ago in a new role that focuses on helping the company engage with our military customers, patients, candidates and colleagues. Many organizations have dedicated military recruiting teams but our work goes beyond hiring.
Veteran innovation is in our blood
CVS Health has a long history of history of colleagues who are veterans and the first known veteran is Ward Melville who served in the US Army during World War I.¬† Born John Ward Melville on January 5th, 1887 he joined his father‚Äôs shoe company, Melville Corporate in 1909 after graduating from Columbia University.¬† At the age of 30 he signed up for the draft and was called to service in the US Army.¬† While serving in World War I, Ward Melville struck up a profitable friendship with J. Franklin McElwain, a New Hampshire shoe manufacturer. Together they devised a method to mass-produce shoes and distribute them at low prices though a chain of stores, which they decided to name after a Scottish golfer, Thomas McCann, which they shortened to Thom McAnn.¬†In 1969 Melville bought three companies: Consumer Value Stores (CVS); Mark Steven, Inc., a firm that distributed products to CVS; and Retail Store Management, Inc. Melville would continue to grow Melville Corporation, to include CVS, through numerous acquisitions until his death in 1977. This entrepreneurial spirit of growth and innovation is still part of the culture at CVS Health today.
CVS Health Innovative Support of Veterans
In April, CVS Health announced a partnership with the Phoenix VA Health Care System and TriWest to provide care to veterans with minor illnesses and injuries. In August Army Colonel Heidi Mon, a Secretary of Defense Executive Fellow, joined the MinuteClinic team for a one year assignment and is helping our company gain a better understanding of how we can support active military, veterans and their families.
At CVS Health, we understand the value that veterans bring to our business and this goes beyond just hiring. There are currently 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in America, representing 9.1 percent of all U.S. businesses.¬†These companies generate $1 trillion in revenue and employ nearly 6 million Americans, many of whom are our customers and patients. This year we were recognized by the National Veteran Owned Business Association for our support to veteran owned businesses. Why is this important? After World War II, 47.9 percent of veterans went on to open their own business using money provided by the G.I. Bill. However, changes in this veteran benefit no longer provides access to low-interest loans to start a business.
Finding Innovative Ways to Hire Veterans
Having senior leaders who are veterans helps us continue to gain support for new innovative approaches to hiring veterans and their families.¬† In July, CVS Health opened our Talent Connect Center on Fort Bragg. This facility helps coach transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses on opportunities at our company and helps them with their resume and interview preparations. In addition, the Army Career Skills Program, provides soldiers an opportunity to train in our stores prior to leaving service. One of the most popular tracks is our 12-week store manager in training program.
In order to reach transitioning service members and veterans where they live we now conduct virtual career fairs every month. This is just the beginning, in 2018 we plan to find new ways to connect with the military community to help them to learn about our company and determine if we have an opportunity that provides the same sense of purpose they found in uniform. Since 2015 we have hired over 9600 people with military experience and almost 2900 military spouses. This year we were recognized with several awards for our work in hiring from the military community but I am optimistic that we can hire even more as the military learns all that we have to offer.
CVS Health is much more than you may realize.
When I was approached by a recruiter last year I thought CVS Health was nothing more than a small retail pharmacy company and I couldn‚Äôt have been more wrong! We are a Fortune 7 company with over 9700 retail stores that serve five million customers each day, 150 within 20 miles of a major military installation, 1100+ MinuteClinics, we‚Äôre opening our 20th distribution center in 2018 and call centers to support our 90 million PBM customers. We operate five mail order pharmacies and offer broad capabilities that include formulary management and clinical services. CVS Specialty supports individuals with chronic or genetic diseases who require complex and expensive drug therapies. The nation’s largest specialty pharmacy, we operate 24 retail specialty pharmacy stores and 11 specialty mail order pharmacies. Our Coram business is one of the nation’s largest providers of comprehensive infusion services. It cares for 140,000 patients annually through a national network of more than 85 locations as well as the largest home infusion network in the United States. Omnicare is a leading provider of pharmacy services to the long-term care market.
CVS Health Serves Communities Across the United States
This year we helped provide 10 scholarships for military spouses and dependents as part of a partnership with ThanksUSA. VALOR, our colleague resource group with national and local chapters, supports other veteran organizations across the country. But CVS Health serves more than just the military community. In 2016 our company made more than $90 million in charitable contributions, employee giving, in-store fund raising, and in-kind donations. Three years ago, the company became the first pharmacy retailer to stop selling tobacco and since that time have invested $50 million in a five-year commitment to help deliver the nation‚Äôs first tobacco-free generation. Click here to learn what CVS Health is doing in your state.
As a veteran, I am proud of the work we have accomplished this year and am excited about all that 2018 has to offer. If you want to join me check out our career opportunities at CVSHealth.com/military.