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Blue Shield of California Surprises San Diego Children of Military Families with Free Bikes

SAN DIEGO (September 19, 2018) – Blue Shield of California and Care1st Health Plan volunteers in collaboration with Blue Star Families today will build and donate bikes to children from active-duty military families in San Diego.

Volunteers will surprise the children with the bikes and helmets at The Scottish Rite Center on September 19 at 4:15 p.m. The event is sponsored by Operation VET, Blue Shield’s veteran employee resource group – a voluntary, employee-led group that fosters a diverse, inclusive workforce that is aligned with a company’s values – and demonstrates Blue Shield’s commitment to the health of all Californians.

“As we work to create a healthcare system worthy of our family and friends, we also are committed to supporting communities and causes that are important to our employees and members,” said Mary O’Hara, chief human resource officer and senior vice president, human resources and internal communications. “Supporting Blue Star Families and encouraging physical fitness is one way we are proud to serve the needs of California’s diverse population.

Military families are resilient, but frequent moves and deployments can take a toll on their well-being. Building and donating these bikes will relieve stress for parents that are often stretched thin. Riding bicycles also is a great physical fitness activity that enables kids to be more social, which builds emotional resilience. All of these are part of Blue Shield’s lifestyle medicine approach to a long healthy life.

"Military kids are asked to move often, say goodbye to service member parents for extended periods of time, and acclimate to new schools – time and time again,” said Noeleen Tillman, chief operating officer, Blue Star Families. “That's why we work so hard to connect them with fantastic organizations such as Blue Shield that care about the sacrifices military kids make."

More than 160 veterans are currently employed by Blue Shield and the company serves nearly 150,000 veteran members.

“Too often, people don’t realize how much military service can impact the entire family unit,” said Simon Huber, Blue Shield project manager and founding chairman of Operation VET. “As a veteran, I feel that it is our duty to support our military families. As an employee of one of the state’s largest health plans, I’m happy that we’re encouraging children to be more active. I’m very proud of the work we’re doing to support veterans and the greater military community through Operation VET.”

Operation VET’s mission is to support and develop military veterans and their families at Blue Shield to increase awareness, strengthen partnerships and foster an enhanced experience for all employees and members, while supporting the organization’s commitment to provide access to high-quality, affordable h​ealth care to all Californians. ​

Operation VET is one of six employee resource groups at Blue Shield. Other groups include Asian Pacific Employee Network, Black Employee Network, Shield Pride, ¡Unidos! and Women Lead to Excellence.

About Blue Shield of California
Blue Shield of California strives to create a health care system worthy of our family and friends that is sustainably affordable. We are a not for profit, independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association with care for four million members, 6,800 employees and more than $17 billion in annual revenue. Founded in 1939 and headquartered in San Francisco, Blue Shield of California and its affiliates provide health, dental, vision, Medicaid and Medicare health care service plans in California. The company has contributed more than $500 million to Blue Shield of California Foundation since 2002 to have an impact on California communities.

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About Blue Star Families

Blue Star Families builds communities that support military families by connecting research and data to programs and solutions, including career development tools, local community events for families, and caregiver support. Since its inception in 2009, Blue Star Families has engaged tens of thousands of volunteers and served more than 1.5 million military family members. With Blue Star Families, military families can find answers to their challenges anywhere they are. For more information, visit