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Invisible Wounds: Johnson & Johnson's CEO on the 'Systems of Care'

A 100 kilometer bike race is a grueling challenge for anyone. It’s an enormous physical and mental struggle.

Article by Alex Gorsky, CEO and Chairman of Johnson & Johnson September 29, 2016 //   6 minute read

This week, the Bush Center will host its 6th annual W100K, a 100-kilometer mountain bike ride for seriously wounded or injured post-9/11 veterans and military personnel. This event spotlights the effectiveness of sport in helping our service men and women recover from their visible and invisible wounds

Today we hear from Alex Gorsky, CEO and Chairman of Johnson & Johnson, about why they sponsor the W100k and what they're doing to address the invisible wounds of war.  

  • Why did Johnson & Johnson lend their support to and sponsor the Bush Center’s W100?

A 100 kilometer bike race is a grueling challenge for anyone. It’s an enormous physical and mental struggle.  And it is a very fitting metaphor for the strength and resilience that’s shown by our Wounded Warrior veterans every day.

That’s what The Warrior 100K means to me.

Despite the visible and invisible wounds of war, the traumatic physical and emotional trauma that they have sustained, these courageous servicemen and women are taking on great challenges every day.

As the world’s largest health care company, we believe it is our duty to help bring good health and wellness to individuals, families and communities everywhere. For some, including veterans, access to quality health care is a true challenge. That’s why, as part of our continued commitment to heroes’ health, we actively partner with organizations like the Bush Institute.

  • What role does Johnson & Johnson play in the systems of care for veterans?

Coming home after serving in the military is an exciting time, but the transition to the private sector can be a difficult process. I know this personally, as a veteran myself.

That’s why it’s so important that we bring people together to discuss their experiences, share ideas and provide emotional support. The Johnson & Johnson Veterans Leadership Council (VLC) is an employee resource group led by a network of Johnson & Johnson veterans who volunteer to take part. I’m very proud to be a member of the VLC, because it helps support J&J veterans in their personal and professional growth.

Externally, we are committed to providing veterans with the health and well-being resources they need, to support them as they return to employment, reconnect with their families, and re-engage with the communities. With programs such as “Operation Family Caregiver” and “The Family Center at Walter Reed,” we are able to provide family, friends and caregivers with the help they need to positively reconnect when veterans return home.

These internal groups and external partnerships enable rehabilitation through the promotion of physical health, recreation, and family strengthening.

  • Can you tell us about some of the research Johnson & Johnson is doing on behalf of the invisible wounds of war?

Johnson & Johnson is providing meaningful leadership in the evolution of mental health care to champion proven, scalable approaches and raise awareness, eliminate stigma and deliver a better continuum of care for our heroes.

Currently, we’re working on creating a sustainable patient pathway in PTSD. This means collaborating with some of the world’s finest scientists and health care professionals, as well as working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to obtain critical healthcare data to reveal the barriers to providing care and afford our veterans easier access to solutions to manage their health.

Diseases of the brain and central nervous system require more than traditional medicinal solutions. Our broad base in human health care extends our reach, capabilities and strategic advantages for patients, providers and consumers around the world. Our research investments support partnerships and technologies that can be applied to more effective care for all people living with brain disorders.

  • Can you outline for employers why hiring veterans will benefit their company?

At Johnson & Johnson, Our Credo defines our many responsibilities, one of which is to “the communities in which we live and work.” We consider hiring veterans—the brave servicemen and women who are tasked with nurturing and protecting those communities—to be part of this commitment.

Veterans bring unique skill sets from their time and training in service to our country, skills which are applicable to building successful careers and creating more successful working teams in any kind of company. There is tremendous value in hiring veterans. We recognize, though, that employers must better understand that value and how those skills can benefit their companies.

I’ve experienced Johnson & Johnson’s commitment to hiring veterans firsthand. I started my post-military career here as a sales representative. I’m grateful that someone recognized that the skills I had developed through my years of service were transferrable to sales. That provided my foothold in the business world and enabled me to work my way up through this company’s ranks.

  • What would you say to a veteran who may be struggling with an invisible wound?

It is important for veterans to understand that they are not alone in their challenges post-service. Today, there are so many options for help and hope. We want them to be able to access the health and wellness solutions they need, whether that is through physical or mental rehabilitation, employment, reengagement with their families and communities or promoting their overall health – and we want them to know Johnson & Johnson is here to help every step of the way.