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August 31, 2016

TDI supports employees serving in military

Kyson Johnson Kyson Johnson

When it’s time to serve their country, TDI employees get plenty of support on the work front.

HR staff have made it a priority to help those who are leaving their jobs for short- and long-term assignments in the military. Those receiving the support say the agency’s efforts are above and beyond what’s to be expected when the change in status might create personnel headaches. And the military agrees.

This summer, the U.S. Department of Defense recognized TDI as one of 11 employers in Texas to receive the 2016 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. Deputy Commissioner Patty David and HR Director Cynthia Olivier accepted the honor at an Austin luncheon.

“There are so many things to know when leaving your job to perform military service,” David said. “We arranged meetings with payroll staff to make sure employees had all the information they needed.”

Olivier said important items to discuss with deploying staff include maintaining state health insurance coverage and service credit for longevity and retirement while they are away.

Thomas Morgan Tom Morgan

Employees say they appreciate the support and assistance.

“TDI has been fantastically supportive of my mobilization,” said Kyson Johnson, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army currently deployed to the Pentagon. “I couldn’t ask more from HR.”

“For both deployments the department set me up with a team of HR personnel that went over my situation and reviewed all of my benefit options,” said Thomas Morgan, a master sergeant in the U.S. Air Force National Guard stationed in San Antonio. “They worked with me before my departure and when I returned.”

“It made a difference to me,” said Bill Woods, an IT manager who retired from the Air Force in 2003. “I certainly would not have been promoted to colonel without TDI allowing me military leave.”

Johnson, a special prosecutor with the TDI Fraud Unit, is a judge advocate for the Army who previously deployed in 2009 to Fort Lewis, Wash. His current assignment to the Army Special Victims’ Counsel Program started in January and is scheduled to last a year. Johnson and about 75 other lawyers are providing legal assistance to victims of sexual assault.

Support from both his supervisor, Associate Commissioner Christopher Davis, and the agency have helped Johnson make the transition from civilian to military life.

“While I know that Chris hates for me to be gone, he has provided the right amount of support for the mobilization while still letting me know I’m a valuable employee at TDI,” Johnson said.

Bill Woods Bill Woods

After joining TDI, Morgan deployed for six months in 2011 to Afghanistan and for another six-month assignment to Kuwait in 2013. He also deployed with other employers, but he said TDI stood out for taking care of his concerns.

Debra Diaz-Lara, director for the Managed Care Quality Assurance Office, was Morgan’s supervisor when he deployed. Diaz-Lara said once TDI received Morgan’s deployment orders, HR helped her complete all the paperwork for his temporary assignment away from the agency.

“We wanted to make sure the needs of the employee and his family were taken care of and that he had a job when he came back,” Diaz-Lara said.

The first time Woods learned of the Pentagon award for employer support of the Reserves, he was working in IT in the early 1990s. He said his supervisor, Andy Robinson, was recognized twice by the Texas Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve for help offered to employees on military leave.

“There were a lot of things that helped,” Woods said. “Andy worked with HR to arrange a flex schedule for me so that I could complete training at Randolph Air Base for half a day each week.”

Working at TDI – or the State of Texas in general – is a good fit with military duty, Woods said. “The state doesn’t penalize you if you want to serve.”

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Last updated: 9/1/2016