MAY 21, 2021

CN Celebrates Military Appreciation Month and Commemorates Memorial Day with our Veterans at CN Employee Resource Group

May marks an important time for CN’s military veteran employees, pensioners, their families and their supporters as it marks both Military Appreciation Month as well as Memorial Day – when we pay tribute to our friends, family, and all of those who have fallen in the line of duty.

Earlier this year, CN launched several Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as part of our commitment to creating a more inclusive workplace. The Veterans at CN ERG was one of those initial groups and is dedicated to supporting, attracting, and promoting military veteran employees at CN.

There are currently over 700 military veterans employed by CN in the United States and over 300 in Canada; it is the Veterans at CN ERG’s mission to support these employees both personally and professionally.

We spoke to Justin Waldeck, AVP Trucking Intermodal Network Planning and Operations, and Herman Searcy-Plunkett, Superintendent - Central Division, and members of the Veterans at CN ERG steering committee, to learn a little bit more about the ERG as well as about the events happening this May.

What is the Veterans at CN ERG, how did it start and what kind of role does it hope to play at CN?

"The Veterans ERG,” explains Justin, “includes former military veterans and their supporters. Our intent is to provide ongoing opportunities for professional development, networking, and discussions on issues important to our community of veteran employees.”
Herman echoes the sentiment saying that the ERG “was started by veterans at CN who care about, and want to support other veterans."

How is CN supporting our military veteran employees?

Herman describes that while, "CN recognizes our veterans on national holidays, it is also really important to provide more resources to veterans to assist with workplace and personal challenges on an ongoing basis."

Justin explains that, "we can do more to recognize our military veterans and the sacrifices that they made to wear the uniform.” However, Justin continues, the changes happening at CN are exciting ones as the CN team “has taken strong steps to foster a culture that empowers our employees of all backgrounds to feel like they are supported and part of a winning team."

Both Herman and Justin are passionate about empowering CN’s military veteran employees, and as Justin says, the hope of the Veteran’s at CN ERG is "to provide our veteran community with a stronger voice at CN."

What do Military Appreciation Month and Memorial Day mean to you?

Justin describes Military Appreciation Month as being “an opportunity to give thanks to those that have served their country." Something Justin feels is important. “Anytime I see a woman or man wearing a piece of clothing that identifies that they spent time in the military, I will go out of my way to say thank you," explains Justin.

The commemoration of Memorial Day has a much more somber tone as Herman describes, this time "allows us to honor and recognize our fallen comrades." For Justin, this is very personal as he remembers his roommate and team member who was lost in an ambush while deployed in Iraq. "I remember him and others always, but especially on Memorial Day," says Justin.

What is next on the horizon for the Veterans at CN ERG?

For Justin, it is imperative in "our inaugural year to lay down a strong foundation that will support our community for years to come." As such, the ERG is focused on growing their membership, meeting with the veteran community at CN, and gaining a better understand of their needs.

This month, the ERG is promoting the new military paint scheme on CN locomotives, the company is launching as part of Military Appreciation Month, as well as honoring loved ones lost in the line of duty through a virtual tribute page. They will also be hosting a meeting for their ERG members and supporters.

In addition to the events during Military Appreciation Month, the Veterans at CN ERG will also have other activities and initiatives throughout the year to support their group. The ERG is also committed to supporting veterans in the community through donations to organizations that support military veterans across North America.

How can CN employees get involved?

CN remains committed to welcoming and celebrating diversity, and importantly fostering a culture of belonging where every one feels included and valued. We all have a role to play in embracing a workplace where CN employees can be their authentic selves without discrimination. As such, employees are invited to become members of any number of CN’s growing list of Employee Resource Groups by visiting the Employee Resource Group page on CN’s Intranet. Employees are also empowered to recommend new resource groups from which CN employees could benefit.

On behalf of CN, as well as the Veterans at CN ERG, we wish everyone a meaningful Military Appreciation Month and Memorial Day. We would also like to send our sincere thanks to military veterans across Canada and the United States for their service.