Veterans connect through an employee resource group

Veterans connect through an employee resource group

Design: Lorena Lopez/University of Miami
By Jennifer Sanchez

Design: Lorena Lopez/University of Miami

Veterans connect through an employee resource group

By Jennifer Sanchez

Reestablished in 2019, the Veterans Unite Employee Resource Group (ERG) functions as a networking platform for University employees who are serving as reservists or who are veterans of the armed forces. With 82 current members, the group continues to expand its outreach and support for the community. While this year’s pandemic has changed the course for much of the group’s programming, it looks forward to safely resuming operations in the future.

Like many of the University’s ERGs, Veterans Unite strives to enhance the professional experience of its members by providing guidance, support, and encouragement—ultimately building community and partnerships among the University’s veterans. 

In honor of Veteran’s Day, Veterans Unite and the University of Miami celebrate the diversity of service backgrounds and roles in which veterans and reservists are a part of on each campus. Regardless of the military branch or time served, veteran employees have unique experiences that have shaped their successes, and their contributions continue to make a positive impact on the University community. 

Craig Cromer, senior manager for Facilities Operations and Planning, gave insight into his personal experiences about how the University of Miami supported his transition to civilian life, while creating new opportunities—including Veterans Unite.

“I served the United States Air Force as a Utilities Systems Specialist for 21 years. After retiring from the Air Force in 2007, I began as a journeyman plumber at the University in 2008 and have advanced to my current position. My military experience coupled with the pursuit of my bachelor of general studies degree has made all the difference in my career advancement. I am grateful for the support I have received from the University and my colleagues and I am proud to work for the U,” said Cromer. 

Anthony Thomas, manager for security for Housing and Residential Life, retired from the United States Marine Corps in 1997 and completed his enlistment in 2000, said that Veterans Unite has enhanced the sense of belonging for veterans on campus. 

“The ability to connect with colleagues, by sharing stories and parts of our lives, has created a sense of community for veterans that was greatly needed on campus,” said Thomas. 

In addition to building his professional network, Thomas also finds opportunities to share important lessons with students. “As the primary overnight crisis responder for the residential colleges, I enjoy connecting with students to share helpful tips when reacting to difficult situations,” he said “Through a class, ‘I Will Bounce Back,’ I teach engaging ways to foster resilience in various circumstances,” he added. 

While Cromer and Thomas only represent a small portion of Veterans Unite members, their pride for the University and their colleagues is reflective of the group. 

“While we are currently limiting gatherings and events, we continue to share resources that are available through the University and Veteran’s Health Administration,” said Lonnette Hall, who served in the United States Navy and is now the director of women’s basketball operations and president of Veterans Unite. “It’s one small way we can continue to support each other and build our community,” she pointed out. 

Learn more about the recruitment and hiring opportunities, including Hiring Heroes, the University’s veterans virtual career fair, or email VeteransUnite@miami.edu to be notified about upcoming events and outreach opportunities.

In addition to Veterans Unite, the University is home to several ERGs. For more information on the active groups or how to start your own, visit hr.miami.edu/erg and follow Life@TheU for ERG spotlights and features.

Visit the Veteran Student Services website to find additional information and resources for student-veterans.