Two the La Crosse area's biggest employers are teaming up to help veterans transition into civilian life.
Gundersen Health System and LHI are joining the U.S. Army's "PaYS" program, which helps service members find work after leaving the Army by matching veterans with employers that fit their skillset and guarantees the soldiers a job interview.
Army 3rd Medical Recruiting Batallion Commander Daniel Woodlock says it's a partnership that's beneficial for everyone involved.
"It really benefits community, it benefits corporations, it benefits the Army. In all three levels, this is really about taking care of the soldier," said Woodlock. "The soldier has a way to easily transition into a community he wants to be a part of and into a corporation that gladly wants him."
Gundersen Health System CEO Dr. Scott Rathgaber says often times, the skill-set of an Army veteran fits what they're looking for in new employees.
"First of all, they're already trained. But in addition to that, folks who are in the service learn teamwork, which is really important in providing our care as well, they learn leadership skills, which help us have a better workforce," said Rathgaber.
Gundersen and LHI join more than 550 companies across the country in the program, but are the first employers in Wisconsin to join the effort. LHI CEO Rob Betchley says he believes this partnership could inspire other company leaders to get involved in what he calls a "no brainer" -- a program supplying access to a pool of highly-skilled, highly trained men and women, as well as an opportunity to show appreciation.
"They [service-members] are making sacrifices for me and my family," says Betchley. "I believe, for every American, you owe it to those service-members coming back into the business community, who protected your freedoms, to give them an opportunity to succeed when they come out. To me, that's what this allows us to do."