“What is the essence of life? To serve others and do good.”
Since time immemorial, the value and goodness of doing something for others – volunteering – has endured, and a chorus of voices – to include ancient philosophers, poet-playwrights, activists, and statesmen – has extolled not only the virtues of selfless service but those who volunteer, as well.
As a national nonprofit with a worldwide reach, Hire Heroes USA has a team of active volunteers that is now 750-strong. They represent a wide variety of industries and professions, including recruiters and human resources managers, and they range from individuals in entry-level jobs to executives who work in C-level suites. Last year alone, they compiled 3,425 service hours. While most of them share their talents and experience based on very specific needs and requests, there are others who assist our organization every single week.
Brad Tieszen is one of them.
He has worked in the health care industry his entire career, specifically in clinics, and he currently spends his workdays as a Vice President of Operations, overseeing multiple specialty practices and working closely with providers, leaders and co-workers at Parkview Physicians Group in Fort Wayne, Indiana. “It starts with taking care of your people,” he says matter-of-factly. “My mantra and my philosophy is: If you take care of your co-workers, they are going to take care of their customers and – in my case – that has always been patients.”
He quickly adds, “The main reason I’ve always been in the health care industry – it’s an amazing way to help others. I love the feeling of being around people and making a difference.”
Seeking a Sense of Fulfillment
About a year ago, Brad went to the Hire Heroes USA website, mainly because he was curious but also hopeful that there would be something he could do. The visit wasn’t random. He knew of our nonprofit because of his uber-sized passion for mixed martial arts and the support Hire Heroes USA has received from the MMA community, fighters like Ryan Bader and Brian Stann, and even the world’s top promoter of the sport – the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Brad also has an uber-sized passion for those who serve and have served in America’s armed forces. He describes his motivation this way: “I feel I’ve been put on this earth to make a positive difference in somebody’s life and help,” adding, “I really wanted to volunteer and just have that sense of fulfillment. I just feel like it was aligned.”
As he remembers, he heard from our volunteer program quickly. “The next thing I know, I was asked to be an Outreach Volunteer. The rest is history.”
Outreach Volunteers help Hire Heroes USA expand its capacity. With our nonprofit’s high-touch, one-on-one service delivery model and hundreds of new registrants every week, these volunteers allow us the ability to touch base with clients more often and find out any number of things, including: where they are in their job search; whether they need additional services or assistance, like mock interviews or federal sector guidance; if they’ve finally separated from the military and are now unemployed; or, even, if they’ve gone back to school.
“The best part is when they tell me they got a job,” Brad stresses, adding he hears that news at least twice a week. He calls 15-to-20 clients every week and reports any updates back to Hire Heroes USA before the weekend. All counted, it averages to no more than an hour of his time to complete. “I love it! I take this volunteer job as serious as I do my job as a health care leader, who is responsible for hundreds of co-workers. I just love it!”
Brad notes his favorite part of any call to a military member or veteran is something that is very personal to him: “I always thank them and say, ‘I volunteer because of you.’”
Making a Difference
You could say that the whole concept of giving back and helping others has been part of Brad’s DNA since he was a young boy, growing up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. His parents are a big part of his story.
“We always had foster kids in our house!” he remembers fondly, noting that his mom and dad were very involved in church and the community. There were 25 foster children in all, including infants and toddlers. They would typically stay between two weeks and three months. There was one, though, that stayed longer – over a year – and, in 1991, she was adopted, becoming a little sister to Brad and his two older siblings.
Whether he was delivering newspapers in 4th grade or working as a camp counselor, a car wash attendant, or a bank teller, Brad’s focus was always on customer service and helping others. By high school, he was shuffling medical x-rays and, later, medical records at an orthopedic clinic. He was also an unpaid intern at Sanford Heath, while serving tables at a restaurant at night for income. For a time in South Dakota, he also mentored young men at church, helped provide meals for families in need, and was involved in Big Brothers Big Sisters.
As a volunteer today, his focus is mainly on Hire Heroes USA and the people we serve. When speaking with him for this blog, he told us, “These are men and women’s lives and the impact that you can have on them. You can feel it. They do more for me than I do for them.” He continued, “It’s been the best experience I’ve ever had in serving any community.”
There is one call Brad made for Hire Heroes USA that stays with him. It was someone in his 20s who had just finished a tour in the military. The veteran had shared a lot on that call – about his experience in the Army and his challenges transitioning to the civilian workforce. “What jumped out at me was how appreciative he was just of the phone call. He said, ‘Knowing that Hire Heroes USA is thinking about us on a Tuesday at 9am just helped me through the day.’ That motivated me because he was struggling to send out job applications.”
Brad shared something else about that conversation that was unexpected and struck him personally. “He said, ‘I specifically want to thank you for volunteering’ and it just took me aback. I was like, “Well, thank YOU,” and he replied, ‘No, I really mean that.” Humbled by the comment and the whole conversation, it left Brad even more galvanized about his role as an Outreach Volunteer.
“At least once a week I will tell my wife, ‘I absolutely love Hire Heroes USA!’ I love volunteering. It motivates me! It’s so rewarding – it’s just awesome!”
Kathleen Saal, Hire Heroes USA Marketing & Communications Manager