US Navy, 1991-1999
Submarine Machinist’s Mate, Charleston, SC/Various Locations
During my time in the Navy as a Submarine Machinist’s Mate, I had many challenges and obstacles to over come, but fortunately, the military has many manuals and regulations to guide and direct you. When I transitioned out of active service, I attended a week long Transition Assistance program, which did help with some of the problems I would face in the civilian life. But once I was out in the “real world,” the civilian day-to-day life was foreign to me. With no manuals, muster to attend, duty turn overs or PMS schedule, the structured life I lead for 7.5 years was gone and I wasn’t sure where to turn.
I’m fortunate because my father was there for me. He put me in contact with two union electricians who he’d gotten the know because they handled the maintenance contract at his place of work. One of them — a Vietnam veteran — had said to him, “Guys with military backgrounds make great apprentices.” Even when my father told him that I had been a mechanic with little electrical experience, he still replied, “Doesn’t matter. He’s military. Disciplined, dedicated, and trainable. That’s what we need.”
So the next day I went down to the apprenticeship hall and applied. After testing and interviewing I was able to secure a seat in a IBEW/NJATC apprenticeship, and it changed my life. I soon realized that the IBEW was a brotherhood, just like the one I’d left in the submarine force.