Ken Ervin                                                                         Angie Richardson, Caroline Magruder                            Brian Anderson, John DeWitt, Henry Parente
Kansas City,
10:06 AM

Children's Mercy Dedicated to Supporting Service Members and Hiring Veterans

The skills and experience Children’s Mercy (CM) employee veterans have brought to their post-military careers have served them and CM well through the years. So it’s no wonder CM is dedicated to helping future veterans transition to the civilian world as a founding partner of the Kansas City Veterans Coalition (KCVC) and as an employer who goes the extra mile supporting colleagues who continue to serve.

Take CM’s Ken Ervin, for example. He was a teenager when he joined the U.S. Air Force. Twenty-three years later, he was ready to retire from military service, but not from the world of work. Today, he’s Director of Biomedical Engineering at Children’s Mercy, overseeing the work of some 60 CM employees who are responsible for the maintenance and safe use of all medical equipment.

John DeWitt served five years in intelligence for the Air Force and now brings skills he learned in leadership, discipline and planning to his position as Vice President of Facilities Management. Nearly 430 CM employees report through John, taking care of all construction, security, real estate, environmental services and maintenance for CM facilities.

Henry Parente’s route to military service came through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps in college. Today Henry applies what he learned as an Air Force officer about planning, developing strategy and working with people from all walks of life to his current role as Director of Operational Excellence.

And Brian Anderson knows about flexibility and adapting to change after spending five years as a U.S. Army Ranger in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those qualities come in handy in his current role as a CM Desktop Analyst in IT.

“These individuals have made a sacrifice for our country and deserve advocates for their employment,” said Talent Acquisition Manager Angie Richardson, who represents CM as a founding partner of the KCVC. “Their experience can be relevant for a lot of non-clinical roles, it’s a population whose skills we can tap into and it’s the right thing to do, whether they join CM or another employer in the region.”

Boots in Cubes

KCVC was founded in 2016 to link local employers with men and women who have recently left the military or will soon make that transition. Angie has participated on CM’s behalf from KCVC’s start; she and her team have since reviewed KCVC members’ résumés, conducted mock interviews and offered counsel on how to express relevant experience in words the corporate world understands, whether they’re interested in employment at CM or elsewhere in the region.

“These are accomplished people with many transferable skills, but it can be difficult to identify what they are,” Angie said. “When it’s easy for hiring managers to see how experience translates, they’re more likely to want to learn more.”

This past summer CM recruiting staff and a handful of employee veterans, including Ken, John, Henry and Jason Halstead, Security Supervisor, participated in KCVC’s Boots in Cubes program, offering KCVC members in the process of making the transition to civilian employees with a behind-the-scenes tour and panel discussion sharing perspectives from “the other side” about opportunities in health care.

The CM veterans were happy to help, and their tips were well-taken.

“At the end, several of the military people came up to me and said, ‘I’d never considered health care before, but now I will,’” Angie said.

And that, said James Elliott, Sprint Chief of Staff and Chairman of KCVC, is what makes CM’s participation in the program, along with 65 other local employers, so valuable.

“Angie and her team have been huge supporters,” James said. “We’re averaging three members a month getting hired by various employers through KCVC, and our success can be directly attributable to organizations like Children’s Mercy.”

Angie’s enthusiasm for the group’s work has garnered support from HireVue, the vendor who partners with CM on video interviews, the Introduce Yourself program and other screening tools. After learning about KCVC from Angie, HireVue has offered to provide services to KCVC individuals starting later this month.

“I’m super excited about that,” Angie said. “For many employers, putting a name and a face to a résumé can get an applicant in the door for an interview more quickly.”

‘Above and beyond’

Those who serve while holding down jobs receive support from CM and their work groups, too. Amy Vorbeck, Assistant Director of Nursing Operating Room, knew flexibility would be required when she hired a new employee who had just enlisted in the Army reserves.

“I knew she would go through six months of basic training at an unknown date, and there was a learning curve involved in figuring out paperwork and the logistics of covering her shift temporarily in her absence,” Amy said. “But my team stepped up and supported her through this journey.”

Amy’s team’s efforts were recently acknowledged by the Missouri Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve with its “Above and Beyond” award honoring Missouri employers supporting Guardsmen, Reservists, transitioning service members and veterans. CM was nominated for the award by Jasmine Smith, Operating Room Administrative Assistant, who also serves in the Reserves.

Amy attended an event in Jefferson City to accept the award on behalf of Children’s Mercy, an experience that left her both humbled and inspired.

“I will strive to be an even better employer to not only National Guard and Reserve Members, abut also all active duty and veterans of our military. They support our freedom without hesitation and give so much to do it.”

Worth the time

It’s not always easy making the transition to civilian employment, and it helps to have mentors and supportive colleagues, CM’s veterans said.

“There is some adjustment if all you have known is military service,” Ken said. “If you go into the service at 18 and spend 20 or 25 years in the military, you think that’s the way the world works.”

Which in many cases, it doesn’t.

“It’s a huge shock, going from the front-line environment to one that’s a lot more peaceful,” Brian said.

But the rewards for the organization can be great.

“We’re comfortable with teamwork and planning,” Henry said. “We learn to work with people of all races, religions and cultural traditions, to listen to everyone and appreciate the skills different people bring to the table.”

“Veterans have the ability to see the larger picture,” Ken said. “They see the mission, vision and values, and align processes around that with what senior leaders expect.”

Henry and James agreed that the ability to build teams quickly to accomplish goals is another attribute of men and women with military experience.

“Every three or four years they move to a new place and have to adapt rapidly, with limited time to affect change,” Ken said. “People in the military learn to be adaptable.”

The ability to react to change helps veterans adapt to work in a civilian organization, added Brian, who also counsels coworkers to be flexible and patient with military colleagues as they make the adjustment.


Learn more about careers at Children's Mercy.