In anticipation of Veterans Day, HomeCare asked a few questions of Paul Millman, owner of Interim Health Care in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A veteran himself, he has set out to hire more veterans to work as caregivers; his staff of around 200 currently includes 10 veterans and he’s ramping up recruiting. He also works closely with patients who are veterans, estimating they have around 50 or 60 clients who receive care at the local Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital. Millman, a native of South Dakota, served active duty in the U.S. Navy from 1974-1978 and in the U.S. Navy Reserves from 1986-2005. He started his franchise in 1991.
HomeCare: Does the fact that you’re a veteran and you’ve got veterans on your team help bring you referrals from your local VA hospital or others?
Paul Millman: I think it does. They know we’re veteran-owned, women-owned and family-owned (Millman, his wife and daughters all co-own the business). I think the veteran-owned status might not make us any better than others, but it does make us work harder for the veterans… We understand what the veteran’s needs are more than anybody else.
HomeCare: Do homecare patients who served in the military have special needs?
Millman: A lot of what we see are the psychosocial aspects of the care. It’s not always the physical anomalies or challenges that veterans might have but understanding the post-traumatic stress syndrome and those feelings that veterans have, especially the Vietnam veterans. We like to pride ourselves on the fact that we have taken care of so many.
Sometimes all it takes is a veteran-to-veteran asking them about their experiences and you wouldn’t believe the stories coming out of their mouths. We have families who say, “Grandpa or Dad or Mom never told us about this.” … We hear some great life-changing stories, and once they talk about those things, it’s like a release for them and sometimes that’s as much a help for them as (components of health care).
HomeCare: Are veterans particularly appealing job candidates for you? And why?
Millman: Yes. They’re disciplined, they’re used to schedules, they respect leadership, they respect people’s privacy and they are just model citizens and model employees. Not to take away from anybody else; but I think when leadership or ownership of the company has a veteran status, it seems like they’re more accountable and more respectful.
HomeCare: Where are you looking as you work to hire more veterans?
Millman: Anywhere and everywhere we can! Most of them get out and go to nursing school; we recruit from the local nursing schools and can start them out as home health aides.
HomeCare: What do you think your own military service taught you?
Millman: Specifically, attention to detail, which in the homecare industry if you are Medicare-certified is kind of a make-or-break thing. Attention to detail, discipline, and the ability to strategically plan for the future and knowing how to do that and what contingencies to take account. Some people would say I still act like I’m in the military. My daughters probably would.
HomeCare: Do you have advice for home health agency owners if they’d like to increase their veteran workforce?
Millman: First of all, set a goal to add 10% of your workforce from the veteran population. They’re already trained—they may not be trained in health care but they’re trained in the lessons of life. They’re disciplined. You can actually skip steps in the training process by hiring veterans. There’s a lot of maturity and personal characteristics that they come with you don’t have to teach them things. If they’ve served any amount of time in the military they’ve worn the uniform with pride and that carries forward in their civilian life… We’re just going to keep trying as many of them working as we can and connecting people veteran-to-veteran. I think that’s priceless, so we’re doing what we can.