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Harris Health System Receives American Legion Award for Older Workers

Harris Health System recently received the Employer of Older Workers Award for the State of Texas from the National Veterans Employment and Education Commission of The American Legion. Harris Health is the only healthcare provider recognized in the state this year.

Additionally, Harris Health was a national runner-up for the same category. The prestigious award recognizes employers for their efforts in hiring highly-qualified older men and women. 

“Older professionals and veterans offer great value and insight for businesses in all facets of the community,” says George V. Masi, president and CEO, Harris Health. “We at Harris Health are fortunate to benefit from these dedicated and knowledgeable individuals. Their contributions on a daily basis support the high-quality patient care we provide to the residents of Harris County.”

Masi, a retired colonel in the U.S. Army, has been working at Harris Health for nearly 18 years, serving as president and CEO since 2014.

“We’re proud the American Legion has honored us with this award,” he adds. “The recognition is tremendous. Our goal has always been to employ the most qualified people and place them in environments where their talents can thrive.”

During the award’s reporting period, Harris Health employed nearly 1,700 individuals age 55 or older—of which, 1,300 had five years or more of experience working at Harris Health. Additionally, 37 of the tenured employees are veterans.

“We’re fortunate that many of the values of older Americans and military veterans—being a part of something bigger than themselves and being of service to others—resonates with many who work at Harris Health,” says Omar C. Reid, senior vice president, Human Resources, Harris Health. “More than a quarter of Harris Health’s employees are baby boomers and for many of them, Harris Health has meant finding a place and a purpose for helping others.”

Harris Health collaborates on several job fairs and career networking opportunities for diverse professionals with several partners including the Texas Medical Center, Texas Veterans Commission, Workforce Solutions, American GI Forum, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the city of Houston Office of Veterans Affairs.

“Showcasing the great work of Harris Health and its recruitment of a diverse workforce is one of the most rewarding parts of my job,” says Elle Pallugna, program manager, Talent Acquisition, Harris Health and system representative during the awards ceremony at The American Legion’s 100th annual convention held in San Antonio. “The recognition by The American Legion acknowledges Harris Health for supporting our employees and the veteran workforce in our community.”

In 1958, The American Legion’s Veterans Employment and Education Commission expanded its employer awards program by creating an award for employers of older workers. The commission saw older workers as a valuable economic resource of proven skills, stability and experience, and it wanted to encourage employers to hire and retain older workers in the workforce. National “Employ the Older Worker Week” was established by The American Legion and is observed during the last full week of September.