By Ellen Nason
Steve Costello received one of the biggest surprises of his 37-year career at Humana when he arrived for work on Monday, March 18, and learned he was the recipient of a Department of Defense Patriot Award because of the support he has shown to James Tongate, a member of Steve’s Medicare team and of the Kentucky Air National Guard.
Tongate, an associate at Humana for 16 years, nominated his supervisor for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) award because of the respect and support he has shown during Tongate’s multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq and his participation in airlifts during several hurricanes and natural disasters.
“My manager has consistently and positively supported all of my efforts to deploy and train to be ready for any mission,” Tongate wrote when nominating Costello for the award, which recognizes supportive employers of National Guard or Reserve members. “He is a very humble man and needs to be recognized for his support.”
Costello remained humble during Monday’s ceremony, pointing out that anything he has done is insignificant compared to the enormous sacrifices veterans and active-duty military personnel make for all of us.
He also praised the leadership and other skills current and former servicemen and women bring to Humana. “It is rewarding to have them here,” Costello said, adding that Humana also has the best leaders in the industry. “At the end of the day, it all adds up to show that together, we are the best of the best.”
U.S. Air Force Major General Edward Tonini, who is Adjutant General of the Kentucky National Guard, attended the ceremony, and thanked Humana for its continuing support of veterans and members of the military, calling the company a long-time “five-star partner of ESGR.”
Retired U.S. Army Major General Robert Silverthorn, Chairman of the Committee for the ESGR, also praised Humana and its supervisors who must learn to cope with long or unexpected absences when members of the Guard or Reserve are deployed. Silverthorn said it works because of supervisors like Costello, who say “I’ll stand by you and with you, and we’ll get through this together.”
He noted that Humana was a finalist last fall for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest recognition given by the U.S. government to employers for their outstanding support of employees serving in the Guard and Reserve.
“You have been nominated again this year, and I am confident Humana will win,” he said, noting the many ways Humana supports members of the military, including being one of the first to answer President Obama’s 2011 challenge to U.S. companies to hire 1, 000 veterans and/or their spouses over three years. Humana not only surpassed that goal in less than two years, but has made a new commitment to hire another 1,000.
“Humana is a wonderful partner, and stands second to no one in terms of commitment to our servicemen and women,” Silverthorn added.
Veterans who want to learn more about Humana’s hiring program should visit www.jobs.net/jobs/Humana-Veterans.