The life of a single mother in service to her country can present unique challenges. It helps when her employer is in her corner.
Kristy (“KC”) Clemens, Executive Assistant at the WesleyLife Network Support Center in Johnston, joined the military 18 years ago and currently serves as a staff sergeant in the Iowa Air National Guard. When she learned recently about a potential for impending deployment, she knew she needed to make some “just in case” plans – including at work, where she supports the organization’s CEO and other executives.
“First and foremost in these situations, I make sure my kids know what they’ll be doing and who will be caring for them, but making plans early to leave things in the best shape possible at work is critically important to me as well,” KC said. “I reached out right away to our leadership to let them know there was potential for me to be gone so we could make a plan for how things would be handled.”
She credits Kristy VanDerWiel, Vice President of People and Culture for WesleyLife, for rolling up her sleeves and making the issue a top priority.
“She was willing to sit down right away and figure out how we were going to make this work – for me as well as for the organization,” KC said. “This is the first time we’ve had this issue come up at the Network Support Center, and Kristy identified right away that we needed to look at policies and procedures and perhaps modify them. She attached a real urgency to our need to get this right – not only for me, but for others in the military who might find themselves in this situation. She was absolutely my advocate.”
Kristy said she appreciated the opportunity to revisit WesleyLife’s human-resources policies around military service.
“Creating an environment of support for our team members is important to WesleyLife, and as an organization that serves many veterans and employs several as well, we know supporting our military is absolutely the right thing to do,” she said. “We appreciate the people who either have made or are currently making the sacrifice to serve our country.
“Specifically for our team members, we want to be part of the team that supports them back home. With KC’s help, we saw some things we needed to do differently and better. We are proud of her and what she does for all of us – at WesleyLife as well as in the military.”
KC said she feels other organizations can learn from WesleyLife about supporting team members who serve.
“It helps to have an employer understand that when I’m off work for military service, I’m not really ‘off work’ – I’m just switching from one role to another,” she said.
“I feel respect for what I’m doing in my day-to-day life, and also respect for the bigger picture; that I’m one of many, many people helping to support our country. It’s nice to know not only that if I have to leave, my job will be waiting for me, but that the people here also have a high regard for my service.”
Rob Kretzinger, WesleyLife's CEO, said it's important to him that KC and other team members who serve in the military know their efforts are appreciated.
“We are committed to supporting our team members in all aspects of their lives, not just during the time they spend within our walls,” Rob said. “We’re proud of KC and of all our military team members for the critical work they do in defending our country, and we want to do our part to support and value them.
"In addition, our heritage includes a commitment to our residents and clients who are military members, and supporting our military team members is another way to honor the veterans who place their trust in us.”