- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

ERGs: Taking Care of Our Own

by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Grantham

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ERGs offer established networks for career development and advancement. If you join a large organization or corporation, you may not see immediate opportunities to connect with everyone who can help you move forward. An ERG for veterans fills that gap for you.

For example, Massenburg is Senior Director of Mission Assurance Business Execution for Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems. He has five protégés, and four of them are veterans. “I think you’ll find that veterans who have been around Raytheon for a while are very passionate about mentoring individuals,” Massenburg says.

RAYVETS existed informally for four years before Raytheon CEO Tom Kennedy, an Air Force veteran, decided to make it an “official” ERG last year. The group has ballooned to more than 3,000 members. One in six Raytheon employees is a veteran, and RAYVETS has a presence at each one of Raytheon’s 44 business sites.

“Once a veteran finds RAYVETS, they start to build a network and get advice from veterans who have worked five to 20 years here. They can ask them, ‘If I want to get a job in this particular (Raytheon) business, how do I do that?’ It’s a strong program and key for newcomers,” says Marie Totah, Raytheon Enterprise Talent Acquisition.

ERGs allow you to “give back” through local community service projects for military families. Some people struggle emotionally when they lose their connection to the military community. But ERGs maintain an outreach to military families in need and also support families of the Guard and Reserve when those employees are called up for duty. As a member of an ERG, you can volunteer to be present for your former comrades. For example, the VERG at Level 3 Communications supports multiple organizations, including Wounded Warriors, Veterans Speak and Mission 22, McGrath says.

ERGs also serve as an important venue to organize fundraising for noteworthy veteran organizations. Raytheon and its employees donated more than $630,000 to veterans in 2014, through the Wounded Warrior Project and the Fund in Support of Our Troops. Additionally, members of RAYVETS and another ERG called “Young Employee Success Network” came together to raise funds to support veterans through the Wounded Warrior Project. This year, that team raised $76,634 and volunteered more than 1,200 hours toward the cause.

ViaSat has an active community outreach program called “V Partners,” Del Toro says. “ViaSat likes to support causes that employees care about, and one is veterans’ causes. In the last year, we’ve donated around $75,000 to a wide range of different organizations. This group has packed lunches and also sent necessary materials like clothing supplies that are in demand for military families.”

Del Toro adds that the group’s charter includes a mandate to provide support to spouses of veterans, because many of them are also among ViaSat’s workforce. “This cause is near and dear to employees,” she says.

Heidi Lynn Russell writes about employment and business issues.


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