Honoring veterans in 2020: Virtual employee celebration and serving those who served our nation

By Regence
November 11, 2020
Regence employees Veterans Day celebration 2020

Regence’s executive medical director and veteran Dr. Jim Polo emcees virtual Veterans Day event featuring employee stories

Company employees speaking about their military service and the meaning of Veterans Day. Clockwise from top left: J. Hootman (Navy) Timshel Tabet (Airforce), Shane Addis (Marines) and Kein Brunner (Army)

As part of a larger effort to stay safe and slow the spread of COVID-19 this winter, Regence employees celebrated Veterans Day a little differently in 2020. Traditionally, the company’s Military Community Employee Resource Group hosts its annual Veterans Day Tribute with in-person gatherings where employees can also join virtually. This year veterans and their loved ones were honored with a completely virtual event—though certainly with as much passion and emotion as years past.

Dr. Jim Polo, executive medical director at Regence and a veteran himself, emceed the hour-long event. After the U.S. flag – “Posting of the Colors” – was displayed during the National Anthem, Dr. Polo spoke with CEO Mark Ganz about the importance of celebrating Veterans Day. “Our veterans are incredible inspirations for us to think about the importance of unifying out of love of country, love of each other, and the importance of working together to get something done,” said Ganz.

Mark Ganz and Dr. Jim Polo
CEO Mark Ganz (left) and Dr. Jim Polo (right)

Four employees then spoke with Dr. Polo about the meaning of Veterans Day and service, each sharing personal experiences and perspectives from having served themselves. “The biggest thing is the sense of purpose—understanding that you are a part of something bigger than yourself,” said employee and navy veteran J. Hootman. “Hopefully I bring that to my team (at work) every day, that sense of teamwork.”

Serving those who served our nation

Throughout 2020 and every year, company employees support veterans across Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington in a variety of ways. Funds raised during the annual 22-push-up employee challenge, for example, are donated to organizations like Operation Homefront, Semper Fi & America’s Fund, Paws Assisting Veterans and Growing Veterans, to name just a few of the incredible community partners in Regence’s four-state footprint.

Employees also volunteer and make in-kind donations to support veterans experiencing homelessness, as well as write letters to active military members and veterans through the nonprofit Operation Gratitude. Additionally, Regence recognizes veterans’ unique health care needs and experiences. For this reason the Regence Valiance health plan was designed to work with retired veterans’ VA (Veterans Affairs) medical and prescription drug benefits for more coverage and choice. This includes coverage of behavioral health support for issues like depression or PTSD with in-person or virtual appointments.