It’s the time of year when the Pentagon lauds employers for supporting part-time troops. And one Colorado Springs business picked up a pile of plaudits.
UCHealth, which runs a pair of hospitals in Colorado Springs, earned six awards for helping National Guard and military reserve troops and their families.
As the military moved toward an all-volunteer force, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program was established in the 1970s to recognize businesses that give workers the flexibility to also serve in uniform part time.
Retired Army Col. Ron Fitch, who oversees military programs for UCHealth, said helping troops has paid dividends by bringing veterans into the hospital chain’s workforce.
“When you look across the organization, it’s amazing how many veterans we have in positions of leadership who then fully commit to that support for our service members who are still serving in the Guard and Reserve,” Fitch said. “In addition, the ability to work with active duty military to maintain their skills and increase their skills for when they deploy has just been a great continuation of the mission here.”
For any business, having Reserve and Guard employees can present scheduling nightmares. In times of strife, those workers can be called up on little notice to carry out military missions.
But the hospital also gets medical workers with some of the world’s top trauma care experience, earned on the battlefield.
The relationship between UCHealth and the military has grown so close that the hospital chain regularly invites in active-duty troops as part of a training partnership.
Army Reserve Sgt. Leticia Reynolds, who works at Memorial Hospital Central, was among those who nominated UC Health for the honors.
“My manager has always been supportive of my military career but also the military careers of the past guard and reserve members we have in the shop,” Reynolds wrote. “A big portion of our past and present employees since I have started have been either serving or have served in the past.”
That kind of relationship between military commanders and local employers will only grow in importance.
The military’s part-time troops take up an outsized proportion of some of the military’s most highly skilled wartime jobs.
Medical fields are one big examples, with the Army especially reliant on its part-timers.
But soon even more high-tech workers in Colorado Springs will wear uniforms on weekends.
The new Space Force, formed in December, is expected to soon get its own Reserve component. And most of those troops will live and work within sight of Pikes Peak.
That’s because while the military is a great place to earn initial training in satellite fields, it can’t hope to compete with the booming salaries civilian space firms are offering here.
That means plenty of former troops finding work, and many of them wouldn’t mind keeping their uniforms around for use on the weekends.
For taxpayers it’s a good bargain, something seldom said in regard to the Pentagon. Part-time troops are just as skilled as their full-time counterparts, but only cost a fraction of the price in peacetime.
For the military, it’s an even better deal. Those medical and space experts bring a level of technical skill to the military the services couldn’t otherwise find. Their part-time work goes a long way to making the country safer.
Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240