Veterans are natural caregivers, and many are inspired to care by the same commitment to serve others that drew them to the armed forces. Homewatch CareGivers is a veteran-founded company that recognizes and values the leadership skills and unique challenges of veterans—both as home care clients and as franchise owners.
Paul Sauer, founder and CEO of Homewatch CareGivers International, served in the United States Army from 1963-1965 and in the United States Army Reserves from 1966-1967, in addition to training for service in a medical battalion. Although Sauer was not sent overseas to Vietnam, the war impacted him. “After I got out, my division went to Vietnam and some of my buddies didn’t make it back,” says Sauer.
Sauer carried with him his commitment to helping others from the Army into the business world, motivating him to found Homewatch CareGivers in 1976. Sauer credits his military training, among other things, with his success in business and believes other veterans will make ideal Homewatch CareGivers business owners as well.
“I think veterans are invaluable as business owners because, when you’ve been in the military for several years, you’re accustomed to—and trained for—executing a mission, similar to an operational goal or objective every business needs or has,” Sauer explains.
The ability to take on responsibility, ensure the safety and well-being of fellow soldiers, and to follow strict rules and regulations are qualities that translate not only to running a business, but also to succeeding in a profession that involves caring for other people.
“One of the reasons people join the armed forces is that they are service-oriented and compassionate,” says Sauer. “These qualities, embodied by successful service members, are also essential to successful business leaders, so the military experience is a great asset in the work place.” Of his own experience working with veterans, Sauer notes, “our success rate with veterans is very high and I think it’s partly due to what they’ve learned in the service.”
For Sauer, Homewatch CareGivers offers an important opportunity to provide care for veterans, and he is proud to be able to offer help to those who have served our country. “There are a lot of aid programs and red tape,” he says of government assistance available to veterans. “If we can be a resource for those seeking support in navigating the system, it’s the least we can do to thank our veterans who have sacrificed so much.”
Malcolm Junior, owner of Homewatch CareGivers serving the Texas areas of southwest Houston, Katy, Richmond and Sugarland, spent 26 years with the United States Army. During that time, he served on overseas assignments in Germany and Bosnia, and on various stateside assignments. Describing his time in the Army, Junior says, “throughout all of those missions, I was responsible for soldiers, for taking them out on a mission and getting them back to their homes safely.”
After leaving the Army, Junior had a specific vision for the business opportunity and career path he wanted to pursue. “I was looking for a company that shared my values and beliefs,” he explains. Junior’s personal values were largely shaped by his experience in the Army, which demanded a high standard of performance and dedication to excellence. “When I read the Homewatch CareGivers mission statement, I very quickly realized that the organization is truly committed to providing exceptional home care,” an operational aim with which he identified because “in the military we were always taught to excel at everything we did.”
There were also characteristics of a career in care giving that resonated with Junior. “The company’s mission statement focuses on ‘preserving dignity’ and military service is all about dignity, compassion, integrity, and commitment,” he explains. The similarities made the transition to civilian and professional life—difficult for some—less daunting. “What I’m doing with Homewatch CareGivers, it’s nothing new,” Junior says. “As a non-commissioned military officer, I was taking care of and looking out for the health and welfare of soldiers and their families—now I’m doing the same thing, but for a different population.”
Of his decision to start a franchise, rather than build a new company independently, Junior says that, after years of exceptional service, he “wanted to come out of the gate operating at a high level.” It seems as if he has done just that. A Homewatch CareGivers owner for four years, Junior has grown his business to employ 50 caregivers, some of whom have been veterans.
In terms of caring for veterans, Junior says one advantage of his own veteran status is the ability to help veteran clients and their loved ones understand and access the aid programs available to them. He admits that this unique type of support can provide a competitive edge when the families of veterans are deciding amongst home care companies for their loved ones.
For other veterans considering investing in a franchise business, Junior suggests that the skills and demands of the military can prepare one for success in owning a franchise. “This is very similar to being a leader in the military, constantly looking to recruit great talent, identify those who fit into your corporate culture, and retain them,” Junior says, adding, “The only difference in the business world is that, while you are doing the same things that you’ve always done in the military, you are now doing them for yourself.”
Ramona Streit, owner of Homewatch CareGivers serving Torrance, South Bay and other cities in California’s Los Angeles and Orange Counties, was awarded a contract with the Veteran’s Affairs (VA) Long Beach Healthcare System to provide in-home care for local veterans. In her seven years as a Homewatch CareGivers owner, Streit has served about 800 clients. Of her current clients, about 69 are veterans.
While Streit has never served in the armed forces, her story is similar to Junior’s in that her personal experience drew her to a career in caregiving. Streit was influenced by witnessing firsthand the quality care her father received at the very VA she now frequents when visiting her clients. “My father served twenty eight years and is a veteran of World War II. I took him to the VA in Long Beach on several occasions, where I saw caring, compassionate doctors provide excellent medical attention, using the most up-to-date equipment,” Streit says.
It was Streit’s familiarity with the local VA and her personal connection to the veteran community that motivated her to successfully pursue a five-year, five million dollar contract with the VA of Long Beach, which provides home care for veterans as part of their military benefits. Streit takes pride in having the opportunity to care for those who sacrificed so much for our country, noting that she often tells her clients, “It is our privilege to serve you for the service you have given us.”
The military’s rigorous physical demands, as well as exposure to extreme environments and health risks, can pose some unique challenges for veterans and their caregivers. From physical conditions caused by chemical exposure —such as certain respiratory cancers—to the lasting psychological impacts of combat—like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder—Streit ensures that her caregivers are equipped to provide quality care for all veterans, regardless of their individual circumstances.
Streit also knows that successfully serving her veteran clients encompasses much more than assisting with everyday activities, household chores, and individual care needs. She has found that being a true partner and resource for the families of veteran clients is integral to her business and to Homewatch CareGivers. “Sometimes the families just need a break,” Streit says. “And they really appreciate the customized care and knowledge of the benefits system.”
Homewatch CareGivers is truly committed to living up to its motto, “Let our family care for yours,” and dedicated to serving those who have served their country so honorably.
Paul Sauer is founder and CEO of Homewatch CareGivers International. A pioneer in the home care industry, Sauer founded Homewatch CareGivers in 1980, a network that has expanded under his leadership to 214 locations.
Malcolm Junior is the owner of Homewatch CareGivers of Southwest Houston, serving the Katy, Richmond and Sugarland areas, Texas. After serving 26 years in the United States Army, Malcolm started his Homewatch Caregivers business in 2009.
Ramona Streit is the owner of Homewatch CareGivers Torrance, South Bay and Los Angeles Harbor, Calif. Since launching her business seven years ago, Streit has served roughly 800 clients, many of who are veterans.
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