Originally known as Armistice Day, Veterans Day was established to commemorate the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. The Armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, marked the end of the war and victory for the Allies in the end of one of the most devastating conflicts in history. In 1954, after the conclusions of World War II and the Korean War, the U.S. officially renamed the holiday Veterans Day to honor all American veterans.
On Veterans Day, our thoughts turn to the countless heroes who have served in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard. When first introduced, Veterans Day was formally recognized on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month in 1918. This year, the United States pays tribute to its veterans at 11 a.m. on November 11, when there will be a moment of silence observed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D.C. Veterans Day is also filled with parades, church services, contests, food, and more to honor and thank all who have served.
The role of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for building community and celebrating milestones
Employee resource groups (ERGs) serve as active communities, providing touchpoints for various groups across an organization that share interests, cultures, identities, and backgrounds. There are ten ERGs at WEX, including: WEX NexGen, Women of WEX, Parents@WEX, WEXPride, WEXVets, Black Growth Council, WEXcessibility, Women in Tech @ WEX, Latin X @ WEX, and Asian Alliance. WEX honors its veterans and military families through its WEX Vets ERG.
How the WEX Vets ERG celebrates and supports veterans throughout the year
WEX Vets’ focus this year has been creating a community within WEX for veterans to not just support each other, but have a place to bond with other veterans.
Abigail Blais has been at WEX for over six years and is the chair of WEX Vets. She says that, “Sometimes, it’s just one of those days and you want to talk to somebody who speaks the same ‘military language’ as you do. WEX Vets is a safe space to create connections between people who have shared the same experience.”
“Sometimes, it’s just one of those days and you want to talk to somebody who speaks the same ‘military language’ as you do. WEX Vets is a safe space to create connections between people who have shared the same experience.”
As part of their initiative, WEX Vets volunteered with the Travis Mills Foundation to increase their support of veterans in the community. This foundation supports recalibrated veterans and their families through long-term programs that help these heroic men and women:
- Overcome physical obstacles
- Strengthen their families
- Provide well-deserved rest and relaxation
WEX Vets also has a long tradition hosting the Murph Challenge every spring. This event helps fundraise for the LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation. This is a fitness challenge and competition that has raised over $2 million since its founding in 2014. All proceeds go to LT. Michael P. Murphy Memorial Scholarship Foundation. The annual Murph Challenge put on by the foundation is not only a challenge physically, it is a mental and emotional challenge as well with participants pushed to their limits. WEXers who participate cheer each other on, share pictures of their physical feats, and celebrate completing the challenge together.
Veteran and WEXer Hubert Williams on valuing his military service
Hubert Williams heads up commercial technology at WEX and has been at the company for five years. He is WEX Vets’ advisor and liaison to the executive leadership team. He describes his six years in the U.S. Army as “a pretty amazing experience.”
After two years, Hubert still didn’t know what he wanted to study in college and decided to join the military. He tried to join the AirForce, but at 6-foot-9, he was deemed too tall. However, with a waiver, he joined the Army instead. His first duty station was in West Germany for three years at the end of the Cold War, during which time he witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall. “I was in the Third Armored Division in the Fulda Gap, the unit that was most responsible for protecting West Germany from any potential Warsaw Pact invasion.” For Hubert, he was moved to witness the Berlin Wall come down because its dismantling meant freedom for the captive residents of East Berlin and East Germany as a whole.
“When you see an entire population of people who have been repressed, suddenly released, it is amazing to watch,” Hubert said. “I get goosebumps just thinking about it. Once, while driving down Autobahn 5 on the way to Berlin in a traffic jam, I saw this guy, clearly from East Germany, standing next to his newly purchased used American car smiling and waving to the traffic as it slowly went by. That right there was ‘Freedom baby!’”
Leaving the army for Hubert meant heading down a new career path. “One thing the military will teach you is to complete your mission. My mission was to go and figure out what I wanted to do in the future, and I did.” Exposure to computers and computer programming in the military paved the way for his future career. Next up for Hubert was a BS in computer science, and a long career in technology management ultimately landing at WEX.
Hubert appreciates the opportunity WEX Vets provides to let veteran voices be heard. “We’ve seen things that maybe others have not seen and as a part of culture that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), it’s not just about demographics. It’s also about points of views and experiences being shared. WEX Vets brings that veteran’s point of view to the WEX community.”
Veterans Day is important not only to Hubert, but also to his family. His grandfather was an MP (military police) in World War II and his daughter Stefanie, is a Chinese Cryptologic Language Analyst for the Air Force. What does Veterans Day mean to him? “It is a day in which the s country gives a thank you to the folks who wrote a check up to and including giving their lives to protect the country. Though by and large, you will find that most veterans will say, ‘The honor was mine.’”
Veteran and WEXer Sarah Terison shares her story
Sarah Terison has been a WEXer for 22 years and works as a tech program manager. Sarah is a proud member of and serves as the finance and philanthropy chair for WEX Vets. She is a Veteran of the U.S. Air Force.
Sarah attended Syracuse (N.Y.) University on a full scholarship through her participation in Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). While attending classes as a full-time student, Sarah engaged in weekly training and additional ROTC-required classes and activities. The program also required students to wear their military uniform on campus one day a week. “While it was challenging balancing academic and military commitments, it helped build leadership and problem solving skills that I continue to use today.” In her college years, Sarah also attended a required four-week military boot camp for additional leadership training, and completed a summer internship in military intelligence at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho.
Her original goal was to become an Air Force pilot, but she didn’t meet the vision requirements. So after graduating college with a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant, Sarah attended nine months of communications and computer systems officer training in Biloxi, MS. After that, she started working full-time for the Air Force Weather Agency (now the 557th Weather Wing) in St Louis, and the Air Force Space Forecast Center in Colorado Springs, CO, managing technology programs for space weather satellites. Her job entailed implementing software to forecast and analyze space weather events that might impact communications and navigation systems on earth. “Solar flares and geomagnetic storms can damage satellites and disrupt power grids, so we implemented systems to predict those events and mitigate the effects of them.”
After leaving the military, Sarah joined WEX shortly after, and as a member of WEX Vets, Sarah gets to stay connected to her military service. “The camaraderie and shared experiences with military peers is hard to match elsewhere. I think WEX Vets provides a great way to stay connected not only with my history as a military veteran, but also to build a sense of community with other folks at WEX who are also veterans or veteran supporters or military families. The ERG provides a bonding connection point for people within WEX who are veterans.”
As WEX marks Veterans Day, Sarah herself has her own personal connection to the holiday. “Veterans Day is a way to remember and celebrate my own service and reconnect with people I have served with and to celebrate their service. . Two of my college ROTC classmates and one of my military instructors died while serving on active duty, so it’s also a time to remember them and honor the sacrifices that they made.”
The WEX community is grateful for this opportunity on Veterans Day to pay respect to the WEXers who have served and WEX family members who have made sacrifices as well for the safety and well-being of communities across the globe.
WEX is a leading, global fintech solutions provider, simplifying payments and back-end business processes in the fleet management, benefits management, and corporate payments areas. WEX values diversity and equity and is an equal opportunity employer. Search jobs on our careers site.