Supporting Our Veterans: It’s Personal
GE is respected worldwide for the quality of its business leaders. In fact, Aon Hewitt, the global human resources and consulting company, ranked GE first on its annual Global Aon Hewitt Top Companies for Leaders list. We are a little obsessed with this whole leadership thing. It’s ingrained in the very DNA of the company: we seek to find the best talent, to nurture and develop the world’s best leaders.
There is another “organization” out there that is just as obsessed with leadership – the armed forces of the world. So it is only natural that GE seeks to fill its ranks with veterans - a highly skilled and disciplined talent pool of natural leaders. It’s not about charity – it’s about gaining a competitive business edge in the markets that we serve.
The GE Veterans Network aims to make GE the employer of choice for veterans, reservists, and guardsmen while creating a GE community of veterans and veteran leaders. It supports and encourages the career development and growth of all its members while also serving the veteran community nationwide through national and local community service events.
That commitment isn’t all business, though. It’s also a commitment felt profoundly by individuals within our organization – individuals like John Chehansky, who is our Director of Business Development here at GE’s Intelligent Platforms Military and Aerospace business.
John served as a jet, carrier-based, fighter pilot and was decorated for significant combat experience during the Vietnam conflict. A US Navy Fighter Weapon’s School “Top Gun” graduate, he culminated his military career with a three-year tour as a demonstration pilot with the US Navy Flight Demonstration Team, the Blue Angels. He now serves as a Board Member for the Blue Angels Foundation (BAF).
Each year, for the past seven years, the BAF has held numerous fundraising activities including a Blue Angel Golf Tournament at the prestigious Del Mar Country Club in Southern California. These events are supported through contributions from major corporations including GE, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems and DynCorp International, to name a few, as well as private donations.
The bulk of the money is presented to The Warrior Foundation which helps the seriously injured who are assigned to the naval hospitals in the US as well as those individuals going through rehabilitation. In addition to monetary assistance, the Warrior Foundation provides transportation and accommodations for family members of the seriously injured upon their return, and anything else that will help the warrior with his or her recovery.
As John said: “I can think of no cause more noble than to assist in the rehabilitation of these fine military men and women who have so bravely served and sacrificed for our country.”
Recognizing that most of the fundraising effort has been focused on the west coast, this past year John turned his attention to organizing a similar fundraising activity on 13 September, when the Blue Angels performed for the Star Spangled Banner Spectacular over Baltimore Harbor to honor the 200th anniversary of the writing of our National Anthem.
Working side by side with Sergio Galindo, Senior Vice President of Wealth Management for Merrill Lynch, a Baltimore resident with city government contacts, they aligned with the show sponsors to arrange a Blue Angel Foundation VIP venue, on a World War II Liberty Ship, which they had anchored in the harbor, along the Blue Angel flight line.
Accompanying the Blue Angel Foundation group were the wives and families of the present Blue's team as well as VIPs from industry, the city and state. The industry participants used the venue as a way to provide a special "treat" for their senior leaders, key employees and special customers. In turn, they provided the Blues Foundation with a donation. This event alone netted $50,000 which was given directly to the Warrior Foundation.
Because of the success of the Baltimore VIP event, attended by more than 400 people from a dozen different corporations, John is planning a similar fundraising activity for 2015 to coincide with the Blue Angel air show over the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
We’ll be bringing you more news of how GE is working to help veterans during the year. In the meantime, to find out more, check out www.warriorfoundation.org