Warriors within our ranks: Military veterans at MD Anderson
Leadership. Dependability. Teamwork. Problem-solving. These attributes essential for U.S. service members also are highly sought after by top employers such as MD Anderson, and they’re just a few of the reasons recruiting and retaining veterans are priorities here.
“Veterans have numerous strengths, but at their core is a willingness to serve,” says Larry Perkins, Ph.D, who accumulated more than 35 years of experience in human resources, education, training and leadership development while in the Army and is now our associate vice president for talent and diversity. “We’ve had great success recruiting veterans in recent years because their service-oriented nature aligns with our mission.”
MD Anderson’s workforce includes many veterans, active duty service members, National Guard members or reservists. Here are the stories of three of these warriors.
Lieutenant Colonel Carilynne Miller, United States Army Reserves
Carilynne Miller served in the U.S. Army for five years, which included a deployment in Iraq. After leaving active duty in 2006 and moving to Maryland, she joined the Army Reserves and had the opportunity to work closely with the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. On the civilian side, Miller was hired by Deloitte as a project manager assigned to the State Department.
In 2011, Miller’s husband accepted a job at an Army base in Italy. She moved with him and transferred her duties to a nearby Army Reserves camp in Germany. After five years, Miller and her husband wanted to be closer to family and decided to relocate to Houston.
Miller joined MD Anderson in 2016 as a project manager in Facilities. Immediately after beginning her career at MD Anderson, she felt a strong connection with other veterans who worked here.
“I hadn’t been on the job a week and someone from the Military Veterans Connection network reached out to ask if they could do anything to help my transition to MD Anderson. I know firsthand, that’s something you can’t find everywhere,” Miller says. “The fact that there’s a network of people who have gone through life circumstances that can help build each other up within an organization is one of the things that stand out about this institution.”
In her current role, Miller uses her expertise building strong teams to provide facilities and operational support to our employees and buildings. She is still a member of the Army Reserves group based in Germany and holds the rank of lieutenant colonel. But instead of spending one weekend a month like typical reservists, Miller spends a week and half in Germany three times a year as an instructor for an Army Major’s course at the Command and General Staff College.
“I know it can be challenge at times, but MD Anderson and my colleagues are so supportive of my role in the reserves,” Miller says. “This is one of the most diverse places you can work. And having veterans like me working here, who have been through different experiences in life and molded to work as a team, brings such value to the institution and how we care for people.”
Former Petty Officer Second Class Keith Harris, United States Navy
Keith Harris served as a yeoman for seven years in the Navy before leaving in 1997. He worked briefly for Union Pacific before landing a position here in Payroll.
Harris has spent 21 years at MD Anderson and currently is an associate business systems analyst in Payroll. He vividly recalls having to manually enter time sheets when he was first hired. He says the clerical skills he honed during his time in the Navy made this work a natural fit for him.
“Being in the Navy helped me develop a strong work ethic and attention to detail, as well the ability to adapt to change,” Harris says. “When I first came here, I was heavily involved in manual payroll processing. But being able to adjust to technological advances in our systems over the years has enabled me to interact with employees more to explain our payroll process and help them really understand their pay.”
Captain Richard Morse, United States Army, Retired
Richard Morse served as a member of the Air Force Air National Guard for 10 years before leaving to pursue a nursing career.
He returned to the military by joining the Army Reserves, however, and was deployed to a combat zone in Iraq as a company commander in charge of 86 soldiers in 2005.
Next Morse held roles as both an Army training officer and captain before deciding to hang up his military uniform for good in 2011, after 24 years of service.
Today, Morse serves as a program manager for our Nursing Workforce Development team and has worked here for nearly 20 years.
He says he never imagined having the opportunity to renew his civilian career at MD Anderson.
“No one can beat the camaraderie you find in the military, but working here comes close,” Morse says. “I’ve always liked collaboration and teamwork, and I’ve been fortunate to work with some great teams here who know how to tackle challenges with a positive attitude.”
Opening up opportunities
For qualified veteran candidates interested in joining our team, MD Anderson offers targeted employment counseling and an online career tool to help them identify opportunities and translate their military experience to relevant positions.
“These resources help veterans control their development journey and assimilate to the civilian workforce,” says Jamie Bernard, a recruiter in Human Resources.
In addition, MD Anderson’s Military Veterans Connection Employee Network plays an integral role in advancing career opportunities for veteran employees. The network – the first of its kind within the Texas Medical Center – uses proactive dialogue, education and collaboration to increase awareness of our veterans’ presence, achievements and contributions. This group partners with Human Resources and Institutional Diversity to lead veteran advocacy and engagement initiatives.
MD Anderson also participates in the Texas Workforce Commission’s Hiring Red, White & You campaign, which connects veterans with employers in the Texas Medical Center and throughout the state through job fairs and a jobs site. The state agency estimates that there are 1.7 million veterans in Texas, of which 967,000 are working or actively seeking work.
These kinds of dedicated efforts have helped MD Anderson earn a place on Military Times’ list of the nation’s 100 Best for Vets list of employers.
“Hiring veterans who have served our country honorably, respectfully and in special ways is a great opportunity for us to give back to the people who’ve given so much to us,” says Perkins.
A longer version of this story originally appeared in Messenger, MD Anderson’s quarterly publication for employees, volunteers, retirees and their families.