Nov 8, 2022
Lessons of service
“Most of this world is me, me, me, you know?” Donnie Kyne reflected recently. “But the truth is, you actually get more fulfillment out of helping someone else.”
At 45, Kyne is part of the post-Vietnam generation. A veteran of both the Marines and National Guard, he responded to the 9/11 call to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fighting was no less intense, the sacrifice and heroism no less valiant than that of prior generations.
However, spared many of the indignities endured by their elder brothers-in-arms, Kyne’s generation of vets have chosen to immerse themselves in networks of support and volunteerism with names like Task & Purpose, Camaraderie, Irreverent Warriors and Mass Fallen Heroes, to name a few.
The groups help maintain bonds of community and brotherhood, Kyne explains.
“By keeping in contact,” he says, “hopefully it helps to lessen the chances of someone sliding into drinking, depression or worse.”
When Kyne made his way back to civilian life, after years of tours with the Marines and National Guard, to reunite with his wife and two daughters, he took a job selling cars. It didn’t last long. “I hated it,” he said.
He was looking for a sense of purpose.
Watch Donnie’s story here
Ultimately, he drew on contacts and connections from his multiple tours of duty in two branches of the military. In 2012, friends who were part of Mass Fallen Heroes extended an invite to attend the annual Marine Corps birthday luncheon at the Convention Center.
There, Kyne would come to learn about the annual Boston Wounded Vet Motorcycle Run and form a friendship with its founder, fellow Marine Andrew Biggio.
Reflecting back on that moment, Kyne recalled that it was the camaraderie he felt with Biggio that made him feel truly at home in the group, and led him to volunteer in a wide variety of causes.
“In the military,” Kyne explained, “everything you do, generally, is for a task, a reason and a purpose. And it’s really not that different from the volunteer work that I’m involved with here at Blue Cross. The connection is seamless in a way.”
Today, as director of corporate security, Kyne is that rare breed of executive with a white-collar title and a blue-collar soul. A childhood in the Andrew Square section of South Boston honed his character at an early age. A small but vital notch on his resume was the stint he spent as a bouncer at the now-defunct Whiskey Priest bar on the Boston waterfront upon returning from active duty. Without a doubt it honed his instincts.
These days, Kyne spends his workdays strategizing and deploying top-notch security for his company’s facilities and people. Just as he was in the military, he’s a protector.
At Blue Cross, the security director is not chained to a desk, but rather encouraged to explore connections to a wide variety of people.
“We’ re encouraged to take service days, or ‘Blue Crew’ days as they’re called and volunteer with a non-profit of our choosing,” he said.
That spirit is part of the company’s DNA.
“I have a new employee, he just graduated college and he’s big into volunteering and I just recently found out he works with kids, tutoring them after work, to sharpen their reading skills,” Kyne said. “Now, I had a good feeling about him to begin with, but obviously that just elevated it. That’s the kind of spirit you see here.”
For his part, Kyne leads the company's employee resource group for veterans, and helps his colleagues find ways to serve their communities. He also volunteers with organizations like Father Bill’s MainSpring shelter program on the South Shore, which has a mission to combat homelessness, depression, and substance use, including among veterans.
“They do great work, and I’ve let people here at Blue Cross know that anytime I can be of assistance to Father Bill’s, I’m happy to do it,” he said. “They can call me directly.”
And, he adds, “there’s a million non-profits that I’d probably get fulfillment out of working with.”
After all, like his fellow vets, everything Donnie Kyne does is for a task, a reason and a purpose.
Are you a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts member and veteran who is looking for support? Call 1-888-389-7764. or use our resources to find licensed therapists, including clinicians at Forge, which is focused on caring for first responders, veterans and active-duty military and their families, offering both mental health care and substance use disorder counseling.
VIDEO OF DONNIE KYNE BY MIKE GRIMMETT