I’ve worked in a number of different places and have even been the boss at a few of them. And I can tell you that few things have brought more “feel-good” spirit to a workplace than NJHA’s hiring of 25 U.S. veterans last year.
These smart and dedicated men and women have served our country at home and abroad. And today, they’re on a new mission as “Certified Application Counselors.” Their job is to help uninsured New Jerseyans navigate the healthcare marketplace and sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
It is a job they have taken on with energy, commitment, good humor and a great esprit de corps. They really care about this mission, but most importantly, they really care about the people they are helping. One of our CACs helped a woman who was ready to halt her cancer treatments because she had lost her health insurance; he quickly guided her through the online Health Insurance Marketplace and helped her find coverage under another plan. Several of our CACs were on the ground in Atlantic City to assist the thousands of casino workers who lost their jobs.
All told, our CACs have reached nearly 60,000 New Jerseyans in the past year with information on their health insurance options. They’re now gearing up for Nov. 15 – the start of the ACA’s next open enrollment period.
For the rest of us working at NJHA, this program has made us feel good, plain and simple. We’ve helped people access healthcare. We’ve supported our veterans. And we’ve welcomed some wonderful new co-workers like:
- Norm Glover of East Windsor, who served in Vietnam and who remains active with the Military Order of the Purple Heart
- Piertus Esperience of North Brunswick, who not only served two tours in Iraq with the Marines but also served a tour in Afghanistan with the Army. He and his wife recently welcomed their second child.
- Hilda DeMello of Edison, a Navy veteran who now serves as one of our CAC team leaders.
- John Rodriguez of Bayonne, an Army veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
- And Fred Kariuki of Phillipsburg, who grew up in Kenya and later became a U.S. citizen and joined the Air Force. He continues to serve in critical missions as a member of the Air Force Reserves.
I would love to list each one of our CACs but suffice to say that every one of our veterans has a legacy of service.
NJHA is fortunate to have these dedicated individuals on our side, not just on Veterans Day but every day. So to them and to all the veterans out there, thank you for your service.