Farmers Insurance Suits Up Transitioning Military

With more than 1 million members of the armed forces preparing to transition from service to the civilian workforce over the next few years, many will find themselves trading in one uniform for another; replacing camouflage and combat boots with a suit. While business attire is commonplace in corporate work environments, those who have served in the military may not have had the time or resources to invest in the wardrobe necessary for a civilian career.

Understanding this need, Farmers Insurance launched Suits for Soldiers in the fall of 2016 with the goal of collecting 50,000 items that can help veterans to be professionally dressed for networking events, interviews, and work. To date, Farmers® has collected more than 70,000 pieces of attire, far exceeding the initial target. “We know from experience how challenging it can be to navigate life after service,” said Russell Lee, vice president, territory product lead-Texas for Farmers Insurance and executive sponsor of the Farmers Veterans and Advocates employee resource group. “For nearly a decade while I served in the U.S. Army, I wore one uniform. Once I was discharged, I realized that I needed professional clothing in order to take the next step in my civilian career. Through Suits for Soldiers, Farmers is helping to ease that transition for military members into civilian life.”

Thousands of Farmers employees and agency owners across the country, many of whom are veterans themselves, participated in the campaign, rallying their communities to donate new and gently used suits for our nation’s heroes. Now, Farmers has undertaken the process of distributing 70,000 articles of clothing to veterans nationwide, beginning in January of 2017 at the Farmers Insurance Open.

During a ceremony at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego, Farmers Insurance CEO, Jeff Dailey, was joined by PGA players to announce the results of the Suits for Soldiers campaign and give out the first of the 70,000 articles of clothing. “We have a proud tradition of working with veterans to assist with their transition from active duty responsibilities to the civilian workforce,” said Dailey during the event. “As one of the nation’s largest insurer groups, Farmers helps insure homes, cars, and life. Meanwhile, Suits for Soldiers is another way Farmers can give back to members of the military who have given to their country.”

A COMMITMENT TO VETERANS

At an event in Woodland Hills, CA, in January, 2017, Farmers recognized California State Assembly member, Matt Dababneh. Dababneh’s San Fernando Valley office single-handedly collected 450 suits for the campaign. “Initially, the goal was to collect 45 suits from residents in the 45th Assembly District,” said Dababneh. “However, due to the incredible amount of support from members of the community, we were able to collect over 450 suits and outfits which will benefit local veterans.”

In February, 2017, Farmers employees and agents in Colorado partnered with Public Service Credit Union to give away 500 suits from the campaign and provide résumé writing and interviewing workshops to military members. “Suits for Soldiers is a campaign which I personally care deeply about. The program represents my company’s commitment to veterans,” said Thomas Swenson, a Colorado-based Farmers Insurance agent who sponsored the campaign locally by opening his agency office to accept suit donations. “We all have a chance to contribute and have a real impact on someone else’s life.”

In March, 2017, Farmers made another major commitment to support America's veterans by extending its unique collaboration with Team Rubicon, a Los Angeles-based national nonprofit organization that unites the skills of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams. Farmers and Team Rubicon first launched their partnership in late 2015, integrating assistance from Team Rubicon's 43,000-strong veteran membership into Farmers robust disaster response efforts."The missions of Team Rubicon and Farmers Insurance align greatly," said Keith Daly, chief claims officer of Farmers Insurance. "We both want to see communities recover quickly from disasters and get back to their normal routines as soon as possible. This is just another way we can help with responses in the communities where our customers live and work."

Through the collaboration, Team Rubicon will continue to support Farmers and their on-the-ground efforts. Farmers offers customers assistance in the areas of home repair and debris management, securing properties to prevent looting, searching for valuables, and tarping roofs to avoid further damage. Team Rubicon will also support local authorities as requested with disaster readiness, relief, recovery and search, and rescue missions. Up to 100 veterans at a time can be deployed to an affected area.“Disasters are our business, but veterans are our passion," said Jake Wood, CEO of Team Rubicon. "Our collaboration with Farmers allows us to continue providing a better transition for veterans who are entering civilian life through service. Together, we can work to help communities return back to normal even faster and stronger than before."

Team Rubicon also honored Farmers with its Veteran Advocacy Award for its commitment to employing military veterans as agency owners.

Also in March, Farmers hosted its largest distribution event yet to benefit veterans living around Fort Meade, Maryland. Farmers teamed with ZIPS Dry Cleaners, St. John Properties, and Fort Meade to donate 2,600 suits and pieces of business attire during the Marching Our Veterans Back to Work event, where 720 military members shopped for new suits to enhance their wardrobes. “Farmers has a passion for veterans,” said Mike Haas, a Pennsylvania-based Farmers Insurance agent and U.S. Air Force veteran who spoke at the event. “As a recognized military friendly organization, Farmers understands the value of the training, skills, and work-ethic of veterans and how that benefits business.”

CREATING OPPORTUNITIES

In addition to helping veterans through the Suits for Soldiers program, Farmers also recognizes there are a number of possible career opportunities that may be available for strong, determined, and goal-oriented individuals upon their exit from service. Not only is Farmers one of the country’s largest insurer groups, the organization has a long-standing and proud commitment to veterans and military families, having been founded by two World War I veterans nearly 90 years ago.

In 2014, Farmers signed a statement of support with the Department of Defense office of Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, committing to seek ways to increase opportunities for veterans, reservists, and members of the National Guard. Many of Farmers 22,000 employees and nearly 14,000 exclusive agents are military veterans, and Farmers has an active employee resource group dedicated to former military members. “We believe in the unique skill-set veterans can bring to a company through their experience and training as well as their values,” Lee said. “Veterans self-elect to join the armed forces and defend the country, which says a lot about a person’s character. We’ve seen great success with employing and insuring veterans at Farmers.”

From agents to the corporate office, Farmers gives back to the brave men and women of the military as much as possible through employment, charitable activities, and providing a variety of comprehensive insurance services. “We want to do what we can to help our transitioning heroes as they re-enter civilian life as successful entrepreneurs and industrious employees,” said Luisa Acosta-Franco, vice president and head of recruitment and field marketing for Farmers Insurance. “At Farmers, our agency owners are in business for themselves, not by themselves. Farmers fosters an environment where veterans can translate and adapt their skills to help families.”

Today, Farmers is recognized as a military friendly organization and a winner of RecruitMilitary’s 2017 Most Valuable Employers (MVE) for Military® award.

For more information about veterans’ resources and opportunities at Farmers, visit BeAFarmersAgent.com or www.farmers.com/careers/veterans-resources/.

Friday April 28, 2017

This article appeared in the May-June 2017 issue of Search & Employ Magazine