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Community Highlights: Highmark Health

Steven Rudy, senior IT systems analyst with HM Health Solutions and a veteran member of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard, finds that Highmark Health companies "go the extra mile in support of veteran employees."

Veterans' support continues to be focal point

At Highmark Health, diversity and inclusion are essential to both our business and our culture. Support of our military veterans continues to be a focus of our diversity and inclusion initiatives, with several noteworthy examples in 2014.

As a military-friendly employer, we employ many veterans across the enterprise, and we and our affiliates actively recruit veterans through community partnerships. We recognize that military experience has provided veterans with unique and valuable training and background. We also provide workplace accommodations for veterans with disabilities, and we strive to achieve inclusiveness for veterans through both community connections and through our own workplace business resource groups for vets. "It is hard to find an organization that will go this extra mile in support of its veteran employees," reflected Steven Rudy, an active veteran in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and a senior IT systems analyst with HM Health Solutions, our business solutions affiliate.

In May, Highmark Inc. partnered with the United Way of Allegheny County on a reception to benefit the agency's Project Serve, which supports military veterans on their journeys home to civilian life. Speaking on behalf of veterans and veterans with disabilities, guest speaker Edward "Ted" Kennedy, healthcare attorney, advocate for people with disabilities and himself an amputee as a result of childhood cancer, told members of the business community, "They don't want a handout. They want a job." The event served as a catalyst to connect veterans with employers and to mobilize the community's support for veterans and their families.

In August, Highmark Inc. and United Concordia Dental served as premier sponsors for the 34th National Veterans Wheelchair Games in Philadelphia, the largest annual wheelchair sports competition of its kind, where 500 athletes meet to compete in a variety of sporting events, including archery, swimming, weightlifting, basketball and quad rugby. The Games encourage veterans to become aware of what they can achieve with their disability, while fostering a healthy lifestyle of sports competition. "We thank Highmark and United Concordia for their generous support of this important rehabilitative event for our disabled veterans," said Al Kovach, national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. "Through their support of the National Veterans Wheelchair Games, they are playing an important role in what is often a life-changing experience for many of our veteran participants."

To help veterans engage in community volunteerism, West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh is piloting "Still Serving." This program provides veterans and military personnel the opportunity to continue to serve and help others by volunteering as hospital greeters, outpatient escorts and transporters. Following the pilot, the program is expected to roll out to Allegheny Health Network’s other six hospitals in western Pennsylvania.