To continue enjoying all the features of Navy Federal Online, please use a compatible browser. You can confirm your browser capability here.

Navy Federal Credit Union’s Clay Stackhouse survived numerous challenges during his quarter-century career as an aviator with the U.S. Marine Corps. 

He flew standby during the Bosnian War in the early 1990s and, later in the decade, helped rescue thousands of refugees from war-torn Sierra Leone in West Africa. 

He served combat missions in Fallujah, Iraq—the site of the bloodiest battle involving U.S. Marines since the Vietnam War—and in other conflict zones. 

He transported Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton as a Marine One helicopter pilot—and was on duty when terrorists attacked the country on September 11.

But the Florida Veteran says his greatest life challenge came after military service. 

"I had a hard time transitioning to civilian life,” he recalled. “The military is very much your identity when you are in it. When I took my uniform off after 25 years in the Marine Corps, I really felt like I was losing my purpose.” Other losses included a sense of pride in his daily work to serve and defend the nation and intense “family-like” bonds he developed during his time in uniform. “When you get out, you tend to miss those things.”

A new purpose at Navy Federal

In the decade since, Stackhouse, a father of two in Florida, has found a new “work family” at Navy Federal, where he serves as regional manager of a member outreach and engagement team in Pensacola. He’s also found a new purpose: carrying out the credit union’s nonprofit mission to help members of the military community secure their finances and achieve their goals, whether that’s buying a first car, launching a business or sending kids off to pursue dreams of their own.

He's not the only team member who has found a deep sense of purpose and belonging at the world’s largest credit union. This month, Navy Federal was recognized on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list, which was developed after analyzing responses to anonymous surveys from more than 1.3 million U.S. employees. Certified companies with 1,000+ employees are assessed on their ability to create a great employee experience that cuts across race, gender, age, disability status or any aspect of employee identity or job role. Companies on the prestigious list outperform competitors on key business measures like retention and innovation.

Navy Federal—which serves more than 13 million members and employs nearly 25,000 people at locations around the world—has won the award 13 consecutive times and 14 times overall. It has also received Fortune® awards for best workplaces for women, millennials and financial and insurance professionals, among numerous other awards for workplace culture.

"You can see just how strong Navy Federal's culture is by the way our team members lift each other up—and seeing that every day in action demonstrates the passion and spirit of our Navy Federal team,” said Chief Human Resources Officer Holly Kortright.

"We know that when our team members are well taken care of, our members are, too. To maintain our excellent member service, we're thrilled to offer employee recognition and development opportunities that empower and uplift our team members for their commitment to our mission, which is to make a positive impact on military members and their families."

A deep commitment to team members

Though equally supportive of all employees, Navy Federal has a special connection to those who, like Stackhouse, have direct ties to the military (and who represent the credit union’s core field of membership). Employees with military ties, in fact, comprise nearly half of the credit union’s workforce and deeply influence its culture.

Navy Federal, in turn, understands the unique challenges facing these team members, which range from finding a new job in a new community to service-related disability and mental health conditions. Like Stackhouse, many of the 200,000 men and women who transition out of the military every year also face challenges translating the value of their military skillsets to corporate life and shifting to office culture. 

“In the Marines, you plan everything you do—to include sweeping the floor—as though someone could die that day,” Stackhouse said, noting his greatest challenge was simply “chilling out.”

Navy Federal’s “culture of trust” and its longstanding efforts to “bend over backwards for its employees” certainly allowed that to happen, Stackhouse said. Indeed, the credit union has forged strong partnerships with nonprofit organizations that connect employees with military ties to training and employment opportunities and is committed to supportive work environments for military spouses. 

All team members benefit from a deep well of additional supports, such as investment in retirement funds, reimbursement for education and adoption expenses, loan discounts, onsite health care and fitness facilities and discounts on travel, entertainment and more.

"Today, employees want much more than just a job,” explained Kortright. “They want to belong and have a career where they can thrive personally and professionally. They need room and support to grow and maximize their full potential. Whether it's expanding their skillset to take on a new job opportunity or something personal like managing a medical issue, enhancing their mental wellness or simply reaching a fitness goal, we want to support our employees and their whole being every step of the way."

One key ingredient—trust— sets “Best Companies” apart from their competitors, said Michael C. Bush, CEO of Great Place To Work, the research and analytics firm that produces the annual Fortune® list. “When employees trust their leaders, their colleagues and the organization, they become empowered to reach their full potential. High-trust workplaces will be faster to innovate, more resilient in the face of disruption and more likely to succeed in today’s rapidly changing, AI-integrating world."

With his son now serving as a Marine rifleman, Stackhouse is grateful for Navy Federal’s supportive culture and more committed than ever to its mission.

His day-to-day work is, of course, far different today than it was 10 years ago. Instead of operating a cockpit, he often works from a desk or in a classroom. Instead of flying into war zones, he now drops into recruiting stations. Instead of rescuing refugees, he saves fellow Americans from financial hardship.

Transitioning from the Marines’ “warrior culture” to the relative calm of a financial institution was “definitely an adjustment,” he says. But in the end, the mission to protect—financially, if not physically—ultimately comes from the same place. And for that, Stackhouse is grateful. “We're not the wolf of Wall Street. We’re actually helping Veterans and their families in the military. That's why we get up in the morning.”


  1. From Fortune. ©2024 Fortune Media IP Limited. All rights reserved. Used under license.

This content is intended to provide general information and shouldn't be considered legal, tax or financial advice. It's always a good idea to consult a tax or financial advisor for specific information on how certain laws apply to your situation and about your individual financial situation.