Originally published at newsroom.cigna.com. Cigna ranked No. 33 on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list in 2021.
This Veterans Day, we’re reflecting on our commitment to support veterans and those currently serving who selflessly dedicate their lives to protecting our country. Nearly 4% of Cigna’s more than 70,000 employees self-identify as veterans – their unique skills, character and sense of purpose are felt in every part of our company, and in every customer interaction.
“The members of our military made a multitude of sacrifices to serve and protect our country,” said Wendy Barnes, president of the Express Scripts Pharmacy, executive sponsor of Cigna’s Salute Employee Resource Group (ERG), and U.S. Air Force veteran. “At Cigna, we believe their fortitude to innovate and their ability to work as a team directly correlates with our success in providing the highest quality of care and service to our customers around the world.”
We are committed to the veteran community here at Cigna, and have received the prestigious Military Friendly Employer designation four years in a row (from 2018 through 2021), surpassing Military Friendly benchmarks in all categories including hiring and onboarding veterans and military spouses, opportunity and advancement, culture and commitment, support and retention, policies and compliance, and recruiting and sourcing. In recent years, Cigna has also received recognition as a Military Friendly Spouse Employer, and was named a top company on the Military Times Best for Vets Employer list. Watch the video below for some highlights on our committment to the veteran community.
To support the health and well-being of the veteran community – both within our own workforce, and in the community at large – Cigna has established a number of programs and resources, and through the Cigna Foundation, has made charitable grants to support nonprofit organizations serving veteran needs. Read on to learn about what we are doing.
Creating a Safe Space for Veterans and the Military Community: Cigna’s Salute Employee Resource Group
Employee Resource Groups play a critical role in Cigna’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion by encouraging all employees to bring their whole self to work. Our Salute ERG provides Cigna veterans, spouses and families, and their allies opportunities for networking, mentoring, personal and professional development and community service.
One vital role Salute serves within Cigna includes educating the business on the unique skills that our veteran and military colleagues offer. In recent years, Salute has partnered with Cigna’s talent acquisition team to help recruiters and hiring managers understand military-specific resumes, connecting human resources directly with employee veterans from all branches of the military for collaboration. Additionally, Cigna has ambassador teams in local communities partnering with military installations, colleges and community programs to translate and match the job skills of veterans and military spouses with open roles.
“The lived experiences are really different for military families and veterans,” said Alexandra Bradley, Salute co-lead, informatics consultant, and lifelong member of the military community. “Millions of Americans have served in the military – ensuring military skillsets are better understood and valued by our organization, and building relationships and trust, is crucial.”
Salute also hosts programming, discussions and networking events to support veterans and build relationships among their coworkers. Programming includes a monthly coffee chat for military spouses, sessions on how to build resilience, activities that promote personal well-being, and more.
“Recently, the Salute ERG recognized the evolving events related to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan may be stressful and can bring on a range of complex emotions for our veteran and military population here at Cigna,” said Ayanna Bernard, Salute co-lead, scrum master senior advisor, and U.S. Army veteran. “The group hosted a supportive call for employees, offering a safe space to listen and share personal experiences and resources… a lot of people expressed they were grateful for the opportunity.”
Giving Back to the Veteran Community at Large
Cigna has long been involved with volunteer efforts in veteran communities. One of the many examples is our continued partnership with Achilles International, a global organization that transforms the lives of people with disabilities through athletic programs and social connections. Cigna is proud to serve as the presenting sponsor of the Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans, specifically adapted to the specific needs of members of the U.S. military. Over the years, Cigna has proudly sponsored the Walt Disney World Marathon, the Hope and Possibility 4 Mile Run and the Marine Corps Marathon. At all of these events, Team Cigna guides and support runners were side-by-side with Achilles’ athletes, encouraging and supporting them mile-for-mile to the finish line. Most recently, Team Cigna guides helped the Freedom Team finish a 650-mile relay from Charlotte, North Carolina to New York City.
Another example of Cigna’s longstanding commitment is our support for the Greater St. Louis Honor Flight, which arranges transport for America’s most senior military veterans to Washington D.C. so they may experience the memorials honoring those lost. After having been grounded nationwide due to COVID-19, the flights resumed in 2021, with Salute “Go Local” ambassadors and volunteers helping support veterans during their arrival and departure, as well as accompanying them on their flights.
Providing Mental Health Support for Veterans Across the Nation
Deployments can take a toll on the mental health and well-being of veterans, those currently serving, and military families. Left untreated, these invisible wounds can have devastating effects on veterans and their families. According to the RAND Center, people affected with depression, PTSD and traumatic brain injury can exhibit higher rates of other unhealthy behaviors, higher rates of physical health problems, and higher rates of suicide.
Cigna established the Veteran Support Line, a free, 24/7/365 days a year resource for veterans and their families. Those in need can call 1 (855) 244-6211 toll-free to receive information on services and resources for pain management, substance use counseling and treatment, financial issues, food, clothing, housing, safety, transportation, parenting and child care, aging services, health insurance, legal assistance and more. Cigna also offers a number of resources for veterans, including training in mindfulness stress management, acceptance and compassion.