Jaime Parent is the Associate CIO and vice president of IT operations for Rush University Medical Center, a 688-bed hospital in Chicago. But the real reason he gets out of the bed in the morning is The Rush Center for Veterans and Their Families.
The Center is Parent's brainchild, an idea developed in response to a need he saw among a growing disabled veteran population - veterans who struggled to reintegrate into civilian life and find not just a job, but a fulfilling career, Parent says.
The goal of the Center is to facilitate both mental and physical health as well as foster employment success for veterans who may feel the skills they learned in the military don't translate to civilian employment, Parent says.
Jaime Parent combined his current experience as an IT executive with his past experience as an Air Force colonel to create The Rush Center for Veterans and Their Families. (Photo courtesy of Rush University Medical Center)
So many veterans go back to the military, to deployments, over and over because the transition back to civilian life is so difficult, Parent says. "There's a feeling echoed by many that they're not 'useful' in a civilian context; that their platoons and companies and their brothers-in-arms relied on them but, now, they aren't needed. They feel like they're not contributing in any way, and this is one way we can help them," he says.
"We have four veterans already on board, even though the Center doesn't open for another few months. I can't wait that long, and neither can these veterans." -Jaime Parent, Associate CIO and Vice President of IT Operations, Rush University Medical Center
"I'm an Air Force veteran myself, and I spent some time at Walter Reed [National Military Medical Center], and I can't tell you the number of young veterans, in their mid-20s who were struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), or physically disabled, in a wheelchair. And they felt they had no long-term job prospects, no way forward," Parent says. "I starting thinking that, despite the recession, IT and healthcare were still 'hot' areas that could use an influx of well-qualified, highly trained folks like these veterans," he says.
Finding the Right Tech Job
While the 3,000 square foot Center won't officially open until February 2014, Parent is already working with some veterans on a smaller-scale version of how the employment program will function.
"We have four veterans already on board, even though the Center doesn't open for another few months. I can't wait that long, and neither can these veterans," he says.