07:35 AM

Nationwide provides support, expanded benefits to veterans and service members

Colonel Francisco Paco Morera

Like many who join the military, Paco Morera felt called to serve his country.

“I’m Cuban American and my parents emigrated from Cuba in the 1960s,” he says. “They instilled in me a sense of pride in our country and a desire to serve.”

That made enlisting in the Ohio Army National Guard an easy choice when Morera was looking for a way to afford college. Now, 31 years later, he’s preparing to retire next year from the U.S. Army Reserve.

Nationwide employs thousands of veterans across the country, and Morera is one of hundreds currently serving in the military.

“We love being able to serve Nationwide and our country at the same time,” Morera says. “But depending on your job in the military, it can also be a big commitment outside of work.”

As a civil affairs officer in a unit based out of Staten Island, New York, Morera will fly or drive from Columbus, Ohio, to Staten Island for the weekend after working all week at Nationwide. He also frequently has conference calls on weekday evenings.

This is on top of potentially many more weeks of training every year and possible year-long deployments. During Morera’s time at Nationwide, he has deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I’ve worked for Nationwide for nearly 25 years, and it has always been a military-friendly company. They understand what we do and support our service,” he says. “I’ve had great supervisors, leaders and coworkers who have really rallied around me.”

Nationwide offers expanded military leave and pay differential, so its military employees don’t have to worry about taking time off or losing pay for training and deployments. Benefits liaisons are also available to walk military employees through their benefits and prepare them for leave.

Two of Nationwide’s benefits liaisons, Amanda Mershon and Sheri Ferguson, were recently honored with its Mark A. Pizzi Military Inclusion Award. The award annually recognizes Nationwide employees who go above and beyond in areas of hiring, training, developing and retaining National Guard, Reserve and veteran employees. It’s named after Nationwide’s retired president and chief operating officer who was a staunch supporter of Nationwide’s commitment to hiring and retaining military talent.

“In the Army, we’d say Sheri and Amanda are ‘in our foxhole,’” Morera says. “We have a lot of paperwork and other tasks to complete when preparing for leave. They make the process easy for us, and it’s one less thing we need to worry about.”

For veterans and active duty service members, Nationwide also has the Military Associate Resource Group that provides networking opportunities and offers a way to connect with one another through shared experiences. Employees who are transitioning from military to civilian life are paired with a mentor who can provide extra support.

“Nationwide has really taken the lead in their support of veterans and service members,” Morera says. “It’s expanding on its already diverse culture by welcoming more veterans and those currently serving. This means a lot to us because we know not all companies have the same support structure, opportunities and benefits.”