In honor of Veteran’s Day, we’d like to share some stories from a few of our own employees who have served in the military.
Tell me about a couple of your most memorable experiences.
“In Basic Training we carried backpacks with extra items that we never used on long, daily hikes. One morning, I decided to take some items out of my pack, but make it appear as if I had everything I was supposed to have. During a five mile hike it started to pour down rain. My Drill Instructor yelled to put on our raincoats and get in formation. I look around, watching everyone putting on their raincoats and realized that was one of the items I took out of my backpack. I was soaked and terrified to tell my Drill Instructor. I won’t even mention the number of pushups I had to do, nor the number of dishes I had to wash. My new name was “Private Soak,” and still, 30 years later, whenever I run into friends who were there, they call me “Soak.” Lesson Learned: It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity, than have the opportunity and not be prepared.” – Tracey
“One was a rather humbling experience in Kosovo. A group of 20 of us were on foot patrol on a dirt road. We stopped for a break under a large oak tree when a man approached us. After talking with our guide and translator, we were told he had invited everyone to come back to his house for coffee and that he would feel offended if we did not. When we arrived at the gentleman’s house we realized how little he had. The home consisted of a single room about 20ft. x 20ft. that was lined with sleeping mats and a little space used as a pantry/kitchen. He was the only one there at the time, but a family of seven lived in that simple house and they were more than glad to share what little they had with complete strangers.” - Mike
“My most memorable experiences were traveling around the world, learning about new cultures, and gaining exposure to things I would never have seen had I stayed in my hometown after high school. Some highlights include watching the sun rise on New Year’s Day on the east coast of Japan, seeing snow-covered cactuses in one bizarre winter in Tucson, AZ, and hiking the Black Forrest in Germany while visiting some service friends.” – Michael
“The most memorable experiences for me have been meeting people from all different aspects of life and making life-long friends. I love the camaraderie.” - Elisha
“We received a distress call from a vessel that had an explosion in the engine area. I remember hearing the absolute terror in the voices coming over the radio. When we arrived on scene, the vessel was taking on water. Several people had suffered injuries, and the vessel’s operator was very inexperienced and panicked. There were not enough life jackets for the people on board, and the vessel was in great disrepair. We tended to the injured and secured the vessel for tow back to port. At the time, it angered me that someone would take a questionable vessel off-shore without enough lifejackets, but later I learned that the operator had borrowed the vessel from someone and he had almost no experience operating it.” - Craig
How did your service and experiences affect your life and career?
“I learned the Army values of discipline, loyalty, integrity, honesty, respect, selfless service and courage. I also learned how to take care of myself, both physically and mentally. I’ve always applied those values, along with my military skills and training to any leadership position I have held in my civilian career, and instilled those same values in my son. Some of my best friends today I met through my military career. The Army taught me to treat people as they should be treated, while expecting others to do the same, and that respect is what allows us to appreciate the best in other people.” – Tracey
“Being in the military really helped get me out of my shell as a kid, and taught me that I can beat any challenge presented to me. It reinforced a code of honor and ethics already instilled by my family, and it developed in me an attention to detail that has helped in the engineering world.” – Garrett
“I believe many great life skills can be learned in the military, but like anything, it all depends on what you put into it. My time helped me to develop leadership skills; to be a problem solver, to be adaptable to whatever life throws at you and to see things from other people’s point of view. I learned that making mistakes is a great way to learn, but learning from other’s mistakes is even better. If you want people to listen to what you have to say, you have to listen to them, and if you want people to follow your orders, you need to be right there working alongside them, setting the example of what you expect in return.”
“The military helped me mature as an individual. It helped me develop confidence in myself, and allowed me the time needed to understand what I did and what I did not want to do when I “grew up.” By the time I left the Air Force, I had already taken enough college classes in my spare time to earn an Associate’s degree, and I was that much more ready to venture into my degrees in civil and geotechnical engineering.” – Michael
“The military has taught me discipline. It has taught me to take on tasks and see them to successful completion. My experiences have set the foundation for where I am in my career and life today. I am a better person for serving.” – Elisha
“The Coast Guard motto is Semper Paratus, which means Always Ready. I’ve always strived to be ready for any occasion or situation. In my current role at ECS, I must be prepared for anything our clients or colleagues may ask of me.” - Craig
Is there anything you would like to add that we have not covered?
“ARMY STRONG” – Be all you can be! – Tracey
“I’d like to recognize all the other veterans who did so much more, including my wife, who served as an officer in the US Navy. I look up to her and the other veterans who have and do incredible things every day keeping our amazing country free. These are the people we should all admire, among others, not athletes and movie stars.” - Garrett
“The military is certainly not for everyone, but I don’t believe there are many other paths in life that can provide the personal development, self-confidence, camaraderie, training, adventure and investment in yourself that our military provides. Serving in the military is one of the proudest accomplishments in my life and truly made me the person and engineer I am today.” – Michael
“Working at ECS reminds me of being in the service. We have an established chain-of-command and regimented systems. Like any branch of the service, you can go as far as your desires and talents take you. We have folks in senior leadership positions who started out as field technicians. Similarly, we have senior administrative and management staff who have climbed the ladder from entry level positions.”
Responses have been lightly edited for length and clarity.