- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

The 2012 Most Valuable Employers (MVE) for Military® So-W

by Heidi Russell Rafferty, Contributing Editor

Share |

Article sponsored by URS

Return to May/June 2012 Issue

Company profiles: A-C, D-M, N-Se, So-W

Below, please find employer profiles of the 2012 MVEs. The brief snapshots capture some of the highlights regarding why these military-friendly companies were recognized as winners, and why they are employers worth seeking out if you are a military-experienced job seeker.

Southern Company (Atlanta, GA)

Southern Company’s “employee programs and family support is unrivaled,” says Jerry Rowland, a veteran and equipment operator at Georgia Power. This premier energy company serves the Southeast. It is a recipient of the “Best Large Employer of the Reserve Component” Award from the Greater Atlanta Association of the United States Army for its military-friendly initiatives. Fourteen percent of all new hires in 2011 were veterans and the company has a military affinity group. Southern Company has participated in several USO events, including greeting redeployed GIs at the airport. It sponsors the National Guard Youth Foundation Annual ChalleNGe Champions Gala, which provides academic and life skills training for at-risk youth.


Southwest Airlines (Dallas, TX)

Southwest Airlines is known for providing “a friendly work environment while staying competitive,” says Olga Romero, communication specialist. Two specialized recruiters visit military job fairs nationwide. The company advertises in military-specialty magazines and encourages employees to refer veterans. “We are adding military-experienced employees in all areas of our operations, from the flight deck with our pilots, to our 72 stations across the country and our headquarters in Dallas,” Romero says. The airline offers a corporate culture with benefits that include profit-sharing, a 401k match up to 9 percent and health care coverage. It also created the University for People for continuing career education. and


Sprint (Overland Park, KS)

“Since 2002, I have been on military leave at different times for more than three years and never had to worry about my position,” says Bryan Wampler, a Sprint Business Manager and a Brigadier General in the Army Reserve. Sprint has plans to build on its success with military employees, adds Jerri Cofran, recruitment services manager. Sprint’s Employee Resource Group, Veterans and Employees helping others Through Sprint (V.E.T.S.), has more than 800 members. Positions are posted on military bases and transition offices, military websites and universities. Sprint engages in military-sponsored community activities and is also involved with the VFW and Park University’s Wounded Warrior Program.


Sunbelt Rentals (Fort Mill, SC)

Many staff at Sunbelt Rentals remains throughout their careers, often progressing from entry level to senior management positions, says Julie Burton, talent manager. Sunbelt is one of the largest equipment rental companies in the country. “Sunbelt takes care of its military employees without a doubt. They provide opportunities for advancement and actively look to hire people who have served in the military," says Jeff Harter, outside sales rep in Hilton Head, SC. The company employs 434 veterans, about 10 percent of its workforce. Of those, 73 were hired in 2011. Sunbelt has a dedicated military recruiter, participates in military job fairs and advertises in military publications.


United Rentals, Inc. (Greenwich, CT)

One noteworthy contribution that United Rentals has made to veterans is its participation as the rental equipment supplier for ABC’s “Extreme Makeover Home Edition.” In July 2011, the company provided equipment and volunteers for the Jubilee House, a shelter for homeless female veterans. United Rentals is involved with The Tower of Hope, a non-profit providing service dogs to wounded veterans and people in need, and Educated Dogs Assisting Disabilities Inc. The company has an award-winning Supplier Diversity program that includes suppliers from Veteran Business Enterprise and Service-Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise. Seven percent of employees are veterans. Nineteen percent of veterans are in management.


University of Phoenix (Phoenix, AZ)

As a top military-friendly school, the University of Phoenix provides “ideal access and opportunity for service members,” says John Ramirez, territory vice president of External Operations. In 2011, the University graduated approximately 12,000 active military and veterans. The University of Phoenix provides scholarships and attends and hosts military-benefitting activities. Veterans are employed within the “Apollo Group” as enrollment advisors, academic counselors, finance counselors and faculty. Benefits include a tuition wavier program. “Many employees feel a sense of community when working with veterans within the company, along with assisting veterans,” Ramirez says. Recruiters use the Marine 4 Life program, Wounded Warrior Project, Veterans Affairs office and military job fairs.


URS Federal Services (San Francisco, CA)

As a government contractor supporting the warfighter, veteran hires are desired at URS Federal Services, “based on their experience operating and maintaining equipment, vehicles and aircraft,” says Marian Hyder, VP of Talent Management. A recruiting team devotes about 80 percent of their time reaching out to veterans. The company attends numerous military job fairs, visits Military Transition Offices and the Department of Labor Local Veteran Employment Representatives. URS offers mentoring programs for new military hires. The company uses veteran-owned businesses and service-disabled veteran-owned businesses as suppliers. In 2011, URS was listed among “10 Best U.S. Corporations for Veteran-Owned Businesses” by the National Veteran-Owned Business Association.


USAA (San Antonio, TX)

Created in 1922 by Army officers as a mutual insurance company for military members, USAA has grown to more than 24,000 employees. In 2011, 25 percent of hires were veterans or military spouses, says John DiPiero, military talent management program manager. USAA has a Junior Military Officer Career Development Program and in 2011 brought in nine participants for the two-year development program. Other unique support measures are VetNet, a social media community designed for veteran and military spouse employees, which works much like LinkedIn; USAA Family Support Group Meetings; and a Pen Pal Program, to help deployed employees and coworkers maintain contact.


Verizon Communications Inc. (New York, NY)

Following 9/11, Verizon activated its Emergency Military Leave policy for employees called up for duty and for those who voluntarily enlist. Since that time, Verizon has been at the forefront of military-friendly support programs, says Emilia Williams-Gaston, manager of Leadership and Talent Management. Deployed employees’ families remain on Verizon medical, dental, vision and insurance benefits. More than seven percent of the workforce are veterans, and over 1,000 Verizon employees have been called to active duty since 9/11. The company has received numerous Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Awards across multiple business units in many states. Its top leadership supports deployed employees with care packages.


Waste Management, Inc. (Houston, TX)

Waste Management offers a number of veteran-supportive programs and recruits strongly from the military community. One in 12 employees is a veteran, and six percent of veterans hired each year are disabled. “We appreciate all veterans’ contributions to their country and are particularly proud of the 3,600 veterans who help make Waste Management not only an industry leader, but also a top military-friendly employer,” says David Steiner, CEO. The company has a veteran professional network, as well as a veteran employee on-boarding program. It offers student veteran internships and attends more than 50 military job fairs a year, including White House/National Chamber Hiring Our Heroes.


Whelan Security (St. Louis, MO)

Whelan Security uses a wide range of recruiting strategies to reach military-experienced talent. Currently, 17 percent of its workforce are veterans, says Allison Galanti, director of Human Capital and HR Services. “We feel employees with military experience easily transition into our culture.” Recruiters build relationships with military bases to provide information on open houses and/or career fairs as well as advertise open positions. The company also takes pride in its employee referral program. Whelan Security offers a “10-Star Training and Development Program,” which exceeds recommendations of the Private Security Officer Selection and Training Guideline. It also offers managerial and leadership training.


Company profiles: A-C, D-M, N-Se, So-W

The Most Valuable Employers (MVE) for Military serves to help military-experienced job seekers identify the top employers to target for civilian careers. MVEs are selected annually based on those employers whose recruiting, training and retention plans best serve military service members and veterans. More information can be found at


Return to May/June 2012 Issue