Veterans’ Advisory Panel: Bridging the Gap for Veterans

Learn more about how we bridge the gap for veterans at Consumers Energy.  

As the Vice President of Generation Operations, and a former Naval Officer, I consider my military service as the foundation and springboard for the successes I’ve achieved in my civilian career.  To this day, I apply experiences and lessons I learned in the Navy to improve my corporate leadership effectiveness.  But it hasn’t always been easy – especially when I was new to the job.

Whether permanently moving from active military into a new role at Consumers Energy, or balancing duties of both worlds, transitioning to the civilian world brings unique challenges. There are many misconceptions about military veterans; but my experience has shown us to be highly-trained, goal-oriented individuals who work together to achieve success – valuable traits at any company.

At Consumers Energy, we strive to take care of our veteran employees. One way we do this is through the work of the Veterans’ Advisory Panel (VAP), formed in 2015 to support former and active military personnel.  I am honored to serve as the executive sponsor for this group of committed individuals who are improving and finding new ways to help our veteran employees, including: 

  • Supporting VAP’s 86 members – and growing. Members include military personnel along with parents, spouses and children of veterans.
  • Hosting 150 employees at the “We Bridge the Gap” event on Nov. 10, which featured keynote speaker Brigadier General Michael Stone, Assistant Adjutant General Michigan Army National Guard, and focused on the history of Veterans Day and VAP’s mission.
  • Collaborating with Blue Star Mothers of Greater Kalamazoo to support their annual fund drive for soldier care packages. Last year, 115 boxes were sent to our soldiers overseas.
  • Assigning trained VAP mentors to new employees who are veterans to assist with transition issues and provide an immediate connection to our internal veteran community.
  • Working closely with other company employee resource groups (ERGs) to ensure Consumers Energy is a great place to work for every employee regardless of race, gender, abilities, sexual orientation or background.

Our company’s support of veterans and the military extends beyond VAP. This year, we were named a silver level Veteran-Friendly Employer by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency for our efforts to recruit and retain military veterans. A few other examples of our company’s recent efforts include:

  • Natural Gas Boot Camp: We collaborated with the Michigan National Guard and Power for America to create a program to train qualified military veterans and provide them with job opportunities.
  • Recruiting: We engage with veterans organizations to recruit potential employees.
  • Michigan National Guard: We collaborate with Ft. Custer to support Department of Defense grant initiatives focused on energy asset innovation.

On this Veterans Day, we recognize the sacrifices veterans and their families have made. Time, energy and lives have been given to serve our country. We are proud to give back when the tough decision is made to leave the military and move on to a new career. It goes beyond saying thank you for your service; it’s putting that appreciation into action. At Consumers Energy, we hope our actions speak loudly and inspire other employers to adopt similar means of veterans’ support.

 -John Broschak, Vice President of Generation Operations