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Life At BMS

Stepping Up for Reservists on Active Duty and Their Families

November 9, 2022
CultureGlobal Product Development and SupplyInclusion & DiversityResearch and DevelopmentVeterans / Military
Careers Home  /  Career Stories  /  Stepping Up for Reservists on Active Duty and Their Families

U.S. Navy Reservist Scott Capsello had been working at Bristol Myers Squibb for just six weeks when he got a call to report for duty.

“I remember the date because Syracuse had won the Basketball National Championship,” Scott explains. “So, when the phone rang at 10 p.m., at first I just assumed it was my hometown Syracuse friends calling to talk about it.”

Scott Capsello Senior Manager, Global Lab Systems Technical Support, GPS
Scott Capsello Senior Manager, Global Lab Systems Technical Support, GPS

Instead, it was a captain from the United States Navy informing Scott he’d be required to report for duty just two days later. He remembers thinking at the time: “Is BMS going to keep me? What’s going to happen?”

It was an incredibly stressful situation for Scott to suddenly be faced with, especially just weeks into his new job as a Downstream Bioprocess Associate in the Global Product Development & Supply (GPS) organization. It’s also far from unprecedented. As of 2022, about 1.1 million Americans serve in the National Reserve Forces. At any time, any of them might be asked to leave their families and their jobs to report for active duty.

While federal law protects the jobs of reservists while on military leave, it still leaves them facing a lot of uncertainty — not just about job status when they return home, but also how their partners and families are going to manage while they’re gone.

The Home Front

Heather Dexter, Scientist, Research & Early Development
Heather Dexter, Scientist, Research & Early Development

That was the situation faced by Heather Dexter, a Scientist, Research & Early Development at BMS’ Lawrenceville, NJ, facility. In the fall of 2021, Heather’s husband was called up for duty with the U.S. Army Reserves in Africa. This would be his fifth military deployment, but the first since he and Heather had become parents to their 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter.

“My husband’s deployment came out of the blue,” she recalls. “It had been over 10 years since his last deployment, so we honestly didn't see it coming.”

Now faced with the prospect of many months parenting their two children alone, Heather was understandably concerned about how she’d be able to balance her increased responsibilities as a solo parent with her continuing responsibilities at Bristol Myers Squibb.

“It was stressful,” she admits. “90% of the time I was on my own for everything. I was solely responsible for getting the kids up, getting them out of the door, and getting them to school — and then I had to go to work myself.”

Whether it was sick days, problems with the school bus or just wanting to be present for her kids, Heather knew she’d face a lot of challenges during her husband’s deployment, and unlike military reservists themselves, there are no federal protections in place for the partners or spouses of service members.

For both Scott and Heather, military deployment created a sense of great uncertainty. Fortunately for both, Bristol Myers Squibb has robust policies in place aimed at supporting employees just like them.

Stepping Up for Those Who Serve

When Scott learned of his deployment, he feared an uncomfortable conversation with the people he worked with. Instead, he experienced the opposite.

“I called Bristol Myers Squibb the morning after receiving my orders and they took care of everything,” Scott remembers. “They explained that I didn't have to worry about my job at all, they committed to training me when I got back to make sure I was still at the same level and in a couple of hours they even put my fiancée on all my benefits, even though we weren't married at the time. It was a very positive experience for me.”

Likewise, Heather was instantly reassured by the response she got after telling her colleagues and team about her husband’s deployment.

“Both my immediate team and leadership were very understanding,” she explains. “I was told numerous times to take care of things at home and the work at BMS would get covered by my colleagues and management as needed. They understood when I had to leave early to pick up one of my children from school. In my situation, it was just a very flexible and good atmosphere to be in. I was very, very blessed.”

A Commitment to Veterans and Reservists

Bristol Myers Squibb has clear policies about what’s supposed to happen when an employee gets called up for active duty because it recognizes how important those employees are. It’s also why this commitment goes a lot further than the policies of many other organizations.

“My husband was very impressed with how generous a program BMS has for people like us,” Heather explains. In fact, he's impressed by everything that Bristol Myers Squibb does for the military community as a whole. It's truly exceptional.”

Bristol Myers Squibb makes this commitment because it recognizes that many of the values that inspired people to serve their country are the same values demonstrated by its highest performing employees — a passion for helping people and a desire to do interesting and meaningful work that leaves a positive impact on the world.

That’s why so many employees find satisfaction and success at BMS following their career in the military — and why Bristol Myers Squibb continues to actively recruit candidates with current or former military experience.

BMS has even created the Veterans Community Network (VCN), one of eight People & Business Resource Groups (PBRG) to facilitate employee engagement with the veteran community and to help find opportunities within BMS for current or former service members entering the civilian workforce. In fact, after having experienced the challenges of deployment, Scott has begun to spend time within VCN to help connect veterans and reservists with open positions at BMS.

“As job candidates, we’re great matches,” Scott explains. “We come with a structure. We come with procedures. We come with rules and regulations. We're mission driven, which means we have all the core values that companies like BMS look for. That’s what makes it such a great company to work for.”

If you're a veteran or reservist, your experience in the military is highly valued at Bristol Myers Squibb. You’ll do work that transforms the lives of patients, while transforming your career as well. If that sounds like a mission you'd like to be part of, learn more about our culture and begin exploring open roles here: careers.bms.com/military-veterans