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Tara Lane-Schmitz and her dad at the 2018 USO Illinois Gala (provided photo)

Translating Military Experience to Serve Members

Growing up with a dad who is a Vietnam veteran and served as a Colonel in the Army, Tara Lane-Schmitz learned from a young age the value of structure and preparation.

For instance, when a 6.7 magnitude earthquake struck in the middle of the night, her dad took immediate action. “He gave everyone a task, and by sunrise … the house was clean, and we were set.” she recalls. “It was very structured, regimented, and organized.”

Lane-Schmitz’s brother is also a commissioned officer in the Army, but she took a different path, studying industrial and organizational psychology to receive a master’s degree and then continued to earn a doctorate in business psychology.

She joined Health Care Service Corporation (HCSC) in 2008, eventually becoming a manager of learning solutions for Blue University. 

But she carried pride and respect for her military family with her to work. So, when the Supporters of Military Veterans at HCSC business resource group (BRG) launched in 2010, she jumped at the chance to be involved.

“Veterans are the heroes of our country, they keep us safe,” she says. “When I heard about it, I joined and got active.”

Lane-Schmitz is now the state chairperson of Illinois SMVH. There are active chapters in Texas, New Mexico and Montana as well, with more than 800 members total.

"They have a wealth of experience, leadership capabilities and discipline.”

The employee-led group contributes to the company’s efforts to attract, retain, advance and support employee veterans and their families.

About 2% of HCSC employees self-identify as a veteran — and one of SMVH’s key priorities is to educate hiring managers and recruiters to support the increase in veteran hiring.

“It’s a large untapped resource,” Lane-Schmitz says. “They have a wealth of experience, leadership capabilities and discipline.”

The problem is that certain job descriptions from the military don’t always translate perfectly to the corporate world, even though the experience does.

“It’s a matter of helping make that translation,” Lane-Schmitz says. SMVH collaborates with talent acquisition to create and update a playbook for the recruitment team that goes over military branches, ranks, and key words to translate military resumes to align with corporate job descriptions. 

The group also supports veterans once they’re employed. This year, Illinois chapters launched the Battle Buddy program. It matches new employees who are veterans with veterans who have been with the company to mentor them as they transition to a corporate job.

The group supports veterans, active duty military members and military families in the community as well, through donation drives and volunteer work. One main beneficiary is the Fisher House Foundation, which runs homes where military and veteran families can stay while a loved one is in the hospital. 

Lane-Schmitz has been based in Illinois with HCSC for the last 12 years, far from her family in California and Washington, D.C. But she says being an active part of the Supporters of Military Veterans at HCSC means she is never far from her roots.

“I value the camaraderie,” she says. “Not everyone (in the group) is a veteran — we have veteran supporters. But it’s being with people who really understand what it’s like to be part of that family and to want to help our veterans. It’s a sense of family.”

Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company.