Going above and beyond to support our nation’s heroes
I was just 19 years old when the United States was attacked on September 11, 2001. I was a student at Iowa State University and a lower enlisted member of the National Guard. I graduated from college in 2004, was commissioned as a second lieutenant and started my first job. In 2007, I began work at General Mills.
Then I was deployed to Kuwait and Iraq where I served as a platoon leader and executive officer of a Heavy Equipment Transportation company. I was deployed for duty for 13 months and was able to return to work at General Mills at the end of 2009.
During my deployment, General Mills gave me invaluable peace of mind that no single person could – security. In addition to retaining my position, General Mills provided me with differential and supporting pay throughout my transition to and from active duty, and implemented merit increases and 401(k) make-up matches for the time I would have been serving with the company.
And at home, the company continues to allow me the flexibility I need when I am called to orders throughout the year for training and active duty.
Today, I continue to serve as a dual-status individual managing a career in both the National Guard and at General Mills. Thanks to unwavering support from my family, friends and colleagues at General Mills, I’ve had the opportunity to serve the country that I love for over 15 years and counting.
Like me, more than 800 General Mills employees who currently serve or have served in this nation’s armed forces have benefited from the company’s commitment to veterans.
Earlier this year, I nominated General Mills for the highest honor the U.S. government can bestow on an employer for its support of military members – the Secretary of Defense Freedom Award. I was thrilled to learn the Employer Support for Guard and Reserves (ESGR), an office of the Department of Defense, felt General Mills was a standout among the more than 2,800 nominations for going above and beyond their call of duty to support veterans in the workplace, the community and overseas each and every day.
This isn’t the first time General Mills has been recognized either. The company has received three ESGR “Above and Beyond” awards in the last seven years; the “Pro Patria” award, the highest ESGR recognition that can be given at the state level; and received a Yellow Ribbon Company Designation by the state of Minnesota.
For the past 13 years, over 3.3 million Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq as part of the longest-running war in our nation’s history.
Whether you’re a small business owner or employed by a major corporation, we all have a role to play to honor and embrace our service members and their families during their military deployments and transition home.
Editor’s Note: General Mills has been a longtime supporter of U.S. military veterans and their families and has received numerous honors for doing so. The General Mills Veterans Network formally launched in 2012 with a mission to strengthen the company and community by harnessing and retaining the unique skills and experiences of veterans. Members of the Veterans Network are involved in activities such as sending holiday cards, care packages and phone cards to troops as well as a mentoring program that matches current employees with returning veterans.