Different Front Lines, Same Heroics: The Case for Hiring Military Vets in Healthcare

How our multifaceted Hero Experience Program is a win for all involved

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In the winter of 2020, Cleveland Clinic piloted a four-week program to train independent duty corpsmen. These sailors serve side by side with Navy and Marine Corps warfighters, typically at isolated duty stations with no medical officer. The intensive training program was designed to help independent duty corpsmen strengthen their existing skills and learn new ones in order to provide better medical care down range when they are deployed to their first duty station.


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The training, created in partnership with the U.S. Department of the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, is just one offering of Cleveland Clinic’s Hero Experience Program. Launched more than a decade ago, the Hero Experience Program has a primary mission of helping military veterans transition from service to a career in healthcare. Each year approximately 240 veterans are hired at Cleveland Clinic through the program, in jobs as varied as nursing, patient transport, facilities and maintenance, and environmental services.

An ideal match for healthcare

Veterans make great employees in healthcare. Cleveland Clinic’s guiding principle is “patients first.” For service members accustomed to putting mission, team and teammates ahead of self, it’s easy to plug into the healthcare system and focus on making things better for patients and their families. Metrics back up the claim: Our employees who are veterans are retained at a rate nearly 10% higher than their non-veteran counterparts.

The Hero Experience Program helps veterans succeed because our staff identifies translatable skills from each person’s time in the service, and then helps connect him or her to the right job within Cleveland Clinic. In 2020, when many people were apprehensive about exposure to the coronavirus, nearly 50% of new hires through the program went into nursing. Veterans wanted to jump in during the pandemic and help people in the ways most needed — a mindset they honed in the military.


Proliferating partnerships

In the past couple of years, the Hero Experience Program has expanded its reach through partnerships, such as the one with the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. The program also partners with local corporations to advance veteran hiring throughout Northeast Ohio. It runs an advisory board with representatives from several leading area companies to discuss roadblocks to hiring, brainstorm ways to improve the employment landscape for service members and share veterans’ resumes. Recently, a veteran relocated from Hawaii to Cleveland to take care of his elderly father. The Hero Experience Program shared his resume with the advisory board, and the sailor landed a job with one of the companies on the board.

The pilot training program for independent duty corpsmen highlights the Hero Experience Program’s commitment to service members — not just to fill jobs at Cleveland Clinic but to provide support throughout the career arc of military personnel. The second group of corpsmen began the training program in spring 2021. Two participants are moving with one U.S. Navy preceptor through several rotations, including stints in emergency departments at two local hospitals, a pain management clinic and a cadaver lab. They will sharpen skills required during future military engagements, such as in deep suture techniques and caring for people with traumatic brain injuries.

Employer of choice for vets

The goal of the Hero Experience Program is to hire more than 300 veterans a year to join Cleveland Clinic’s team of 68,000-plus caregivers worldwide. At Cleveland Clinic, veterans can make an immediate impact on people, whether by caring directly for patients or ensuring that clinicians have enough personal protective equipment. Putting patients first is a team-of-teams effort.


Cleveland Clinic strives to be the employer of choice for military veterans. If you know a veteran — whether a helicopter pilot, a diesel mechanic or an 11 Bravo — there’s likely a place for them at Cleveland Clinic. For more information, have them contact a recruiter at militaryrecruitment@ccf.org.

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