Meet the Veterans Business Resource Group at Bread Financial™
Damian Giammarco knows a thing or two about veterans. Not only is the senior manager of the Business Continuity Team approaching 30 years with Bread Financial, he’s also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. So, when a group of associates sought to establish the Veterans Business Resource Group (BRG) in 2016, Damian joined right away and today serves as the BRG’s President.
“We were kind of just out there on our own at the start,” he recalled. “We had to get permission to form a business-sponsored group and were actually the second to reach that status. I was initially just a regular member and then became an unofficial ‘co-leader.’ And that turned into me becoming the president when the DE&I Office formed our BRGs as they look today.”
The Veterans BRG was officially created with the mission to foster cross-departmental interaction, professional development and networking for veterans, active-duty military personnel, their family members and military supporters from all branches of the United States Armed Forces. Today the group includes over 80 associates from across the company.
While the BRG provides a source of support and a sense of belonging for the organization’s veterans, it has also established itself as a successful networking and professional development platform. Damian is proud of how the group has connected its members on a professional level, but he is quick to point out how much effort the group puts in for events outside the walls of Bread Financial.
“I'd say the thing we probably do the most is to promote and facilitate community events,” Damian said. “We love to get our associates involved in events and initiatives that are supportive of veterans.”
While it’s easy to list the tangible areas that the Veterans BRG is involved with, Damian believes the group’s greatest value comes in more subtle, yet effective ways. He says the company’s support and commitment to its past and present military servicemembers gives those associates an invaluable sense of pride and comradery while fostering inclusivity.
“I really appreciate the fact that we get a lot of attention from this organization and how much they focus on us and allow us to do such great things. I love it because it's a great way for me to stay connected to the military, and not just have it be a thing that I did a long time ago,” Damian concluded. “It's a tremendous honor to be able to lead this group.”
Learn more about the Veterans BRG in the Q&A with Damian below.
What are the primary goals of the Veterans BRG?
We want to be able to provide professional development for our veterans and help them move their careers forward. Another way we focus on this is to facilitate networking for veterans throughout our business. We try to participate as much as possible in different organizations that do large scale recruiting. We also support and organize many events in our community that are aimed at supporting veterans.
What community initiatives has the BRG has been involved with?
We’ve gotten very involved with Habitat for Humanity. We've done several builds with them, including an actual home that we helped build for a veteran, as well as several of what they call ‘Playhouse Builds,’ where we build little playhouses for families to give to their kids.
Are there any other events the group has been involved with recently that you especially enjoyed?
Over the past three years we’ve participated in Honor Flight. It’s a program that gives veterans from WWII through the Vietnam War a trip to Washington D.C. to visit their service and war memorials. Columbus has its own branch and Bread Financial has been supporting it for three years now. We provide the ‘guardians’ for these trips, which are people that can chaperone the veterans during their travels, from the time they arrive at the airport and until they get home from the trip.
What events are your excited about in 2024?
We are hoping to host a virtual session with Janie L. Mines, who was the first African American female to graduate from the Naval Academy. I got to see her last year and she was really impressive. After that, the next big thing will be gearing up for Memorial Day. We’ll participate in several fundraisers. We’ll also try to participate in some flag planting events where we'll go around to different cemeteries and plant flags where the graves of veterans are.
Does an associate need to be a veteran to be a member of the BRG?
No, you absolutely do not. We encourage family members, friends and all allies of veterans to become involved. We love to hear associate's ideas and suggestions for ways that we can further grow our group and support our nation’s veterans.
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