Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 107 active Lilly employees have been mobilized with the U.S. military reserve or National Guard. In the last 10 years, mobilized Lilly service members have spent more than 1,762 months serving in combat operations, nation building activities and humanitarian relief efforts in the U.S. and overseas.
Colonel Eli Lilly, founder of the company, enlisted in the Union Army at the outset of the American Civil War. In December 1864, Col. Lilly was captured by Confederate soldiers and held as a prisoner of war until the end of the war.
Lilly has a long history of supporting programs that help veterans and those currently serving in the military. For example, we support a number of initiatives for the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans and HVAF of Indiana, Inc., to help stem the epidemic of homelessness among veterans.
In addition, the Lilly Foundation provided a grant to Give an Hour and the American Psychiatric Foundation to address the unmet mental health needs of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The grant was used to recruit and educate volunteer mental health professionals to create a network aiming to bridge the gap in mental health services for soldiers returning from service, as well as their families.
Lilly’s long-standing connection to the military goes back to our founder. Colonel Eli Lilly enlisted in the Union Army in 1861 at the outset of the American Civil War. In December 1864, he was captured by confederate soldiers and held prisoner until the war ended in January 1865.
As a veteran of the war and also a pharmaceutical chemist, Colonel Lilly was frustrated by the poorly prepared, often ineffective medicines of his day, and in May 1876 he founded what would later become the global research-based company, Eli Lilly and Company.
The company and Colonel Lilly’s son, J.K. Lilly, Sr., played a part in the military history of World War I, when in 1917 the company donated $25,000 to the Red Cross to establish a base hospital for the U.S. Army. Later, J.K. Lilly, Sr., also donated $15,000 and, with additional funds from the Red Cross, expanded Base Hospital No. 32 to 1,500 beds in a hotel in Contrexeville, France. He also became director of the War Chest Board and Chairman of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion.
Colonel Lilly’s grandson, Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., left for France in September 1917. He received a commission as First Lieutenant in the Medical Supply Section of the Sanitary Corps and was detailed to assist in organizing the Medical Supply Service for the American Army in France. He later rose to the rank of captain in charge of all medical supplies of Is-sur-Tille.
World War II saw significant mobilizations of Lilly personnel with many KIA and two Lilly employees still listed as MIA. More than 1,000 employees served, many making the supreme sacrifice. The efforts by Lilly to contribute -- including war bonds, offering no cost/low cost life-saving medications like penicillin and providing for the families of deployed employees -- was annually recognized by President Roosevelt and the War Department with the coveted Minuteman award. Lilly won this prestigious award each year of that protracted war.
During Korea and Vietnam, a similar large number of Lilly employees were called to service. Large letter writing campaigns were organized by the company as well as blood drives, and mailing Christmas gifts and regular care packages. Throughout the tenure of these conflicts families were communicated with and if necessary provided for in many ways. Employees who were mobilized were recognized in the company newsletter and regrettably too many were eulogized there also.