Tyson Foods Honored for Support of Veterans, Military

Tyson Foods has been a long-time member of the Indiana Chamber, and the following report isn’t the first time its benevolence has been noted here. Kudos to the company for its ongoing support of American men and women in the military.

Two Tyson Foods team members – Russell Tooley, senior vice president of corporate and international human resources, and James David, pricing manager with the company’s consumer products division – were recognized as “Champions of Change” by the White House today. Each week, President Barack Obama’s Administration recognizes individuals and businesses that create jobs in the United States and make positive impacts in the communities where they operate. Different issues are highlighted each week and Tyson was chosen to participate in this week’s discussion about the benefits of hiring military veterans in the corporate world due to the company’s continued efforts to employ veterans, reservists and their family members.  
“These are the leaders this country needs, people who are working to build in America and create jobs in America,” the White House states on its Champions of Change website. The event was broadcast live of online at 11:30 a.m. CST, but will be available for playback on the White House’s YouTube channel
Tooley is instrumental in Tyson’s recruiting of military veterans for both the corporate headquarters and international teams. David was a United States Air Force Captain and now, in addition to his duties at Tyson, serves as an Executive Officer with the 22nd Air Force Detachment 1 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base. Tooley is one of six individuals recognized as a Champion; David is one of five military veterans who participated in the roundtable.   
“In my experience, current and former military personnel are quality hires for many positions at Tyson Foods,” Tooley said. “They’re well-trained and frequently have developed leadership skills. They also fit well with our culture, which places emphasis on honesty, accountability and dedication.”
Tyson employs about 3,000 military veterans and is a member of the American Logistics Association, which recently committed to hiring 25,000 veterans and their family members over the next two years. Tyson Foods also employs more than 500 military family members and veterans who help stock Tyson products at military commissaries. The company regularly makes a concerted effort to hire junior military officers who have received training from an outside agency on how to transition from the military to the business world.
Another way Tyson Foods supports the military is by providing differential pay for all employees called to active military duty, making up the difference between military compensation and pay they normally receive from Tyson. Since September 11, 2001, Tyson has provided $2 million in differential pay to almost 400 employees.
Other ways the company supports the U.S. military include:  

  • Since 2009, Tyson Foods has been a major sponsor and coordinator for Northwest Arkansas Honor Flight, which flies World War II veterans free of charge to Washington D.C. to spend a day visiting the World War II Memorial and other military memorials.
  • Tyson Foods has a Veterans Business Resource Group for military veterans who work at the company’s corporate headquarters. The group gives the veterans employed by Tyson the opportunity to become active in community initiatives like Honor Flight, and it is also involved in sending holiday care packages to fellow employees, family members and friends serving the U.S. military in the Middle East.
  • Tyson has been a winner of the National Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Freedom Award, primarily because of the company’s differential pay policy. 
  • The company is one of the leading suppliers of food to the Defense Commissary Agency (DeCA) and has been helping feed the U.S. military and their families for more than 50 years. 
  • In recent years, Tyson Foods has also provided food for the Wounded Warrior Picnics at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and for certain welcome home parties for soldiers returning from overseas assignments.

Companies Awarded for Supporting Employees in Uniform

Serving your country is no easy task. It takes heart, dedication and a love for country over a love for self.

Leaving family, friends, and oftentimes their full or part time jobs behind, American men and women in the National Guard and Reserves spend their precious time keeping us safe. It’s a common thing for families and friends of Guard and Reserve members to show their support through cards and care packages. What’s less common is the employers getting in on the action and lending a hand to the families and soldiers themselves.

However, some employers are working very hard on behalf of their men and women in uniform. Those employers are honored with the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, the highest honor given by the United States Government to employers for their support of employees who serve in the Guard and Reserve.

Just 145 companies have been given the award since it was established in 1996 with the backing of the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). Fifteen awards are given each year and we’re pleased that a company with an Indiana presence – Hanson Professional Services, Inc. (headquartered in Illinois with a branch in Indianapolis) – is a recent recipient of the Freedom Award.

Hanson, an engineering consulting firm, was nominated by an employee serving in the Army National Guard, who wrote that Hanson provided pro-bono engineering assistance to a military unit working on a bridge in Iraq. Also, while he was deployed, the family of Hanson’s CEO took the Guardsman’s wife and daughters on a shopping trip to pick out care package supplies using money collected by co-workers. He also cited receiving care packages, letters and other correspondence from the company.

Other past recipients with Indiana ties include Indianapolis-based Perpetual Technologies, Inc. in 2009, Con-Way Freight (with a branch in Plainfield) in 2007, as well as Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Group (Midwest Airlines) in 2000.

Companies are nominated by their Guard and Reserve personnel, as well as their families. A national selection board of senior Defense officials and business leaders select the award recipients. The 2011 honorees will be recognized in Washington, D.C. at a ceremony on September 22.

For a full list of current and past recipients, visit www.freedomaward.mil.

Group Should be Red-Faced Over Green Effort

I have the opportunity to work with lobbyists at the Indiana Chamber who strive to produce the best possible business climate for Indiana companies and their employees. While those individuals have the goal of winning on the issues they pursue, success does not come at the expense of ethics. In other words, winning at all costs doesn’t apply; honesty and integrity remain at the top of the priority list.

That brings us to a group (not sure who it is and wouldn’t want to give them exposure by naming them if I did) that wants Congress to pass a clean energy climate plan. The group is airing a television commercial among other outreaches. Free speech is good; what they are saying is bad.

As bombs go off in the background and there are images of wounded and fallen soldiers, the message is that for every $1 increase in oil prices, terrorists receive $1.5 billion to buy weapons to kill our service men and women. No argument here that less dependence on foreign oil is a good thing. But to directly contend that wind turbines and solar panels (images of both are shown in the ad as alternatives to oil) would change the world as we know it is ridiculous. Oil contributes less than one percent of all of our country’s electricity.

The brave and heroic efforts of our country’s soldiers should not be used in this manner. No matter one’s opinion on U.S. military operations around the world, trying to say that more wind and solar power will replace oil — and save lives — is disingenuous, unethical and a few other words we won’t repeat here.

ISRs Mean JOBS for Someone

When the IRS comes calling, most people are worried. Switch two letters to ISR and the tone switches from potential tax troubles to economic opportunity.

Although health care reform still dominates the discussion in Washington, those engaged in the military are preparing for a 30,000-troop expansion in Afghanistan. And they will need ISRs — intellligence, surveillance and reconnaissance products. Those are vehicles, manned and unmanned, and the accessories that go with them that can be deployed quickly.

In fact, Army General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, told a Senate committee, "There’s almost no amount of ISR, in my view, that would not be value added to my effort in Afghanistan."

Indiana has a growing defense industry, with state officials recently compiling more expansive information on the key players and their assets. Will the state benefit directly from this opportunity? I’m not sure our capabilities are at that level, but maybe I’m off base. I do know of some Hoosier companies that have been big beneficiaries of military contracts in other areas. Can anyone provide more insight?

Let’s leave the "should we be there or not?" thoughts out of this discussion. We are, products are needed to support our troops, our state makes things and I don’t think anyone is in a position to turn down development that means more jobs and healthier businesses.

Coburn Slices Wasteful Spending in 2008 Report

No matter your political leanings, you’ll likely find this report by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, 2008: Worst Waste of the Year, to be worth perusing. He basically takes government to task for what he perceives to be a national barrage of pork. Many of these programs are laughable, while some might be defendable depending upon your perspective.

Here’s an example:

First Tee Program – South Carolina ($3 million)

Kids around the nation will be invited to learn and appreciate the game of golf through a $3 million grant from the Pentagon to First Tee. First Tee is a non‐profit organization that was founded to bring underprivileged youth off the streets and onto the golf course. When one member of Congress responsible for arranging the grant was asked what childhood golf had to do with the military, he responded that golf “helps you make generals and colonels.”

I remember hearing about this one when it earned Rep. James Clyburn (South Carolina) a nomination for the Citizens Against Government Waste’s Porker of the Year Award. I must agree that there are some holes in the logic. For starters, I played quite a bit of golf as a youngster (in the converted cornfields of Boone County, not fancy golf with sand traps and such), and I’m hardly qualified to lead an army of ants, let alone becoming a general or colonel. Nor did it teach me about decorum as I was a known club-thrower, and I learned little about finishing what I start as I became a master of the four-foot gimme.

Worst of all, I never actually became good at golf, which led to a poor self image (frowny face).

Hat tip to Chamber staffer Chase Downham for passing the report along.