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Recruiting veterans & other military providers - Spring 2015
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By Miranda Grace, FASPR, Professional Staff Recruiter, Geisinger Health System

Active, transitioning and retired military veteran providers serve as a great and growing candidate pool. Not only do they possess the same level of skill and training as civilian candidates, but they also offer the special strengths that we’ve come to love of our service men and women: Dedication, loyalty, determination and excellent communication skills.

Recruiting and employing these providers, however; can bring both stability and uncertainty to healthcare organizations. What is to happen during a military leave? What are the rights of the organization and what are the rights of an individual? Are organizations required to hire veterans over other providers? These and other questions will be addressed in this article, along with helpful tips for employers of active/reserve military physicians.

Recruiting veteran providers

Unfortunately, even after serving our country, many United States military veterans are having a hard time finding and landing civilian jobs. In fact, according to the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP), “In 2012, the unemployment rate for Gulf War-era II veterans was 9.9 percent, compared to nonveterans at 7.9 percent.” To combat this and other discrepancies related to the employment of veterans, a new regulation under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) was published in September of 2013. This rule now requires all employers currently doing business with the United States government, directly or indirectly, to actively recruit, hire and support veterans, both disabled and transitioning from service.

Arthur Breese, Geisinger Health System’s Director of Diversity, explains how Geisinger is meeting the regulations required of Equal Opportunity Employers (EEO), “We are asking veterans to self-identify pre-offer and post-offer. If they choose to do so, the recruiter (and only the recruiter) will know if a candidate is a veteran or not. On a similar note, recruiters must complete a self-assessment of their good faith outreach efforts, which must be documented in our Affirmative Action plans. We’ve also established a “valet service” on our website for veterans and military personnel, since many times they have a difficult time translating their resumes from military to civilian. Finally, we, like all other EEO employers, are also required to survey our entire workforce to identify what percentage are disabled and/or veterans. That process needs to be completed every 5 years.”

The consequences for not complying with the program are severe. “Organizations could receive a conciliation agreement, and the penalties could vary: Fines, data collection, discontinuance of funds, or even debarment from future government contracts. It could certainly affect patient care, particularly if, like us, federal funding is paying for patient research,” said Breese.

Employing reserve military providers

In order for an organization to employ reserve military employees, they must be well versed on the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), which outlines the rights and responsibilities of uniformed service men and women as well as their civilian employers. As a retired Army veteran, Trevor Bethel, DASPR, is as well-informed as they come. After 21 years of military service, Bethel spent the last 16 years in healthcare, most recently, physician recruitment. Currently a physician and faculty recruiter at The Ohio State University, Bethel offers great insight into the role of employers during an employee’s military leave.

A common question that arises when a provider, or any reserve military employee for that matter, is called to active duty is: Are employers required to hold a job until the employee on military leave returns? Bethel says, “In general, if the employee is entitled to reemployment, they will have that option as long as there is reasonable certainty that the absence was due to qualified military service. If they have received a dishonorable discharge, which means that they no longer hold the skills to maintain the position they left (a certification has lapsed, etc.), then they may not be qualified for the position.” Upon their return, however, the position can be another job, in another department, within the system. “As long as they return in the appropriate period of time,” explains Bethel. “They must, at the very least, be able to get their previous job back. However, because of the nature of the business, if they are gone for a long period of time, there might be several weeks or months before they re-start their same position.”

During the leave, employers are also required to provide continuation of benefits. Bethel explains, “If the current employee gets called up and has a specific employer sponsored plan that they are enrolled in, the service member has the option to elect to continue their civilian paid health plan or take the military’s package. They also have the option to choose both plans.”

Time off is another gray area, though each individual employer should have their own policies in line with federal law. “Military employees typically get 30 days for paid military time off for weekend drills,” explains Bethel. “Anything over and above 30 days is subject to employer. In some cases, the employer will make up the difference of an employee/service members civilian pay lost during periods of military activation or deployment greater than 30 days if their military pay is less than what they usually earn. None of the time on their deployment is counted against PTO time, sick leave or vacation.” Bethel urges employers not to terminate because of military status, “Most are placed in furlough status. This way, they can maintain seniority and be eligible for future seniority positions or advancement.”

Finding military candidates

Most military physicians utilize all the same platforms as civilian physicians. Bethel recommends looking into the military’s employment programs. “In addition,” he says, “find out whom, on your medical staff, is on military service and tap into their networks. Make sure to network with those retired, on staff or still serving.” Many times, a physician will travel over multiple states to fulfill their one weekend per month reserve requirement. “You may find someone from another state who will relocate because it’s closer to their military unit,” Bethel says.

As organizations struggle to understand new laws, guidelines and best practices, ASPR is proud to help de-mystify the process from recruiting, retention and beyond. To learn more about the VEVRAA, please visit: http://www.gpo.gov/ fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-09-24/pdf/2013-21227.pdf or http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/regs/compliance/ factsheets/VEVRAA_FactSheet_QA_508c.pdf

http://www.esgr.mil/USERRA/Frequently-Asked- Questions.aspx

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