We recently spoke with Don Weber, founder of the La Crosse-based Logistics Health Inc. (LHI), about the company’s support for service members and veterans, and why his company strives to have a staff that includes veterans, service members and military spouses.
Weber formed LHI in 1999 to address critical military medical readiness concerns, and today it designs and manages large-scale workforce health programs, including medical and dental readiness services, veteran disability examinations, and secure data management for government agencies.
Here’s what we learned during our conversation with the retired Marine.
Q: Why does LHI actively recruit veterans to join its workforce, and what does LHI do to actively recruit veterans?
A: Those who serve in our nation’s military come to us with a unique and powerful set of skills that are invaluable to any company. We’re talking about essential leadership skills, skills related to taking risk, and much more. Our veterans bring those skills to every job because they’ve honed them during their time of service. For us, as a company that provides services to our veterans and their families, there is an added bonus: our veteran employees have a deep understanding of what it means to serve our country, and what it means to be a military family, providing insights that most people who have never served simply don’t have. This helps us know and better understand our customers, anticipate their challenges and forge better solutions, faster.
We recruit our veterans in a number of ways. We participate in and host career fairs specifically for veterans. We work with the Department of Defense and go on military bases and to armories on weekends when service members are training, and we show them the important work we are doing as a company. We also bring them on as interns when they are transitioning from military to civilian life, so they can get a better sense of the services we provide and how they fit in as an essential part of the big picture here at LHI. As a company, about 12 percent of our employee population of about 2,300 are veterans or military spouses; that’s really incredible and something we’re proud of. But we believe we can and will do better. Through our strategic hiring and recruitment practices, we hope to eventually have a staff comprised of 20 percent veterans, service members and military spouses. I know we can get there.
Q: Why is it important for LHI to have the “Military Friendly Employer” designation, and what does it mean to LHI to have that designation?
A: I believe every organization should strive to be a military friendly employer. Only about one percent of our population serves, and when they transition out of military life, we as business leaders have the opportunity to put their unique skills and integrity to work for us. They make extraordinary employees—I’ve seen it first hand, time and again. But to be military friendly also requires us to be agile as employers, to understand that the call of duty can come at any time, and that we must enable our service members to answer that call without fear of losing their financial security and professional footing. To me, that’s just what it means to be a good corporate citizen: we support the people who protect our country, and we support the families who wait for them, at home. Then, when the time comes, our veterans return to the workplace ready to give their all, knowing that we’ve got their back. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s perhaps the best way to say thank you for your service, but it’s also just smart business.
Q: What can veterans expect when they are hired by LHI?
A: We are a unique, mission-driven organization that values giving back to our veterans above all else. So, if they’re passionate about supporting our military and military families, they will find a family of like-minded people here. And we would love to have them, because we are profoundly grateful for their service, and we know the incredible skills they bring to the table.
Q: How can veterans translate their military background to what they do at LHI?
A: There are so many skills our veterans have that don’t fit into any algorithm—skills that might not be caught by an electronic candidate screening process, but are more valuable than any keywords someone could use to try to game the system. So, we have to be aware of those blind spots and take steps to make sure they don’t impede our quest to hire the best talent for the job. Once they’re in the door, our veterans will easily find ways to put their leadership experience to work. We’re in a fast-paced, rapidly changing industry, and that requires courage and the ability to take calculated risk—both skills that our veterans have gained through their military training and service. It all translates easily into the work they do here. Also, they have a deeper understanding of our customers’ needs and wants, and they live by a mission similar to ours. Their background in the military translates easily and almost effortlessly into the work we do here at LHI.
Q: Why do you think Wisconsin is a great place for veterans to live?
Without a doubt, Wisconsin has a quality of life that is second to none, particularly here in the La Crosse area. And there’s a culture of deep appreciation for our veterans here in the Upper Midwest; we know and honor their sacrifice, and we give our service members the respect they’ve earned. So, the culture and quality of life are big reasons this is a great place to make a home for our service members and veterans. But there are other, more practical reasons Wisconsin is a great place for our veterans, service members and military families. Wisconsin leads all other states in veterans benefits—we’re ranked number-one in the country, not only for opportunities for employment, but also continuing education, and the GI Bill. So, it’s no surprise many veterans do make a home here, and raise their families here.
Q: What benefit do you think veterans receive from working with fellow veterans at LHI?
A: When veterans work with veterans, they form a brotherhood or sisterhood. Our veterans are a unique group of individuals; first of all, for them to even consider to volunteer to serve is extraordinary—it sets them apart. Once you decide to serve, it’s the first step in the long march toward honor. They’re all on that path. So, they come from a unique and special segment of our population. They don’t do it for the pay—to them it’s an honor and a privilege to serve. So, they form a powerful bond based on these commonalities, and when they have the opportunity to work with their brothers and sisters in arms, providing services to other veterans, it’s really special. It’s not a job; it’s a calling. It’s a mission to be a part of something greater than ourselves, and when things get tough, those are exactly the kind of people I want to serve alongside.
Note: Some of Mr. Weber’s answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.