US Navy/ Seabees, 1982-1988 (active and reserve duty)
Construction Electrician, Port Hueneme CA / Various Locations
I think that graduating from boot camp and finishing “A” school were the highlights of my service. Boot Camp was the long, tough (and sometimes humiliating) process that transformed me from troubled young man to a person that would respect authority. I learned respect, brotherhood and the importance of paying attention to detail.
“A” school definitely changed my life. I used to be afraid of heights, and so for me, climbing school was somewhat horrifying at first. It was one of the toughest things I have done in my life (both mentally and physically), but in the long run, it helped me overcome my fear of heights. Now, being on a pole or on a bucket truck at great heights is not even an issue.
The transition from military to civilian life was not too difficult for me, because I was stationed close to my home town (Carpinteria, CA, a small city on the beach about eight minutes south of Santa Barbara). I went to boot camp in San Diego, Electricity and Electronic schools also in San Diego, and “A” School in Port Hueneme (about twenty minutes away from Carpinteria). So I enjoyed both side of the coin, you might say, because I was active duty but still close to home. I was very lucky, and it made the transition back to civilian life fairly easy for me, and i remained a reservist for several years.
Getting a job with not much on the on-the-job training (real world training) was challenging at first, but the Navy tough me to be strong and patient. I had all the schooling and training I’d gotten through the military, but I learned that in the real world, employers need and want more than that. There wasn’t much help from anyone except my family, and sometimes it was very difficult and frustrating to deal with. I served and was serving my country yet it was hard to find a job, partially because of the economic downturn at the time.
But then I was approached by one of my Navy reservist friends about an apprentice job with the City of Lompoc. I took the test and I was hired. I have been employed by the City of Lompoc ever since. I’m currently a crew foreman with two and a half years till retirement (if I chose to retire at 55 with 99.99% of my current pay). The Navy taught me a skilled trade, and I knew that the opportunity would come to make that into a career, as long a I didn’t give up. And when the opportunity came, I took it.
As a young man and a civilian, reporting to active reserve every month was difficult. It was hard because as a civilian you don’t have the same rules as the military. Coping was a challenge at times. On the other hand, my job was very supportive when I did my two weeks of active duty every year as a reservist. I’m very lucky that I work for a municipality.
The military taught every one of us the importance of strength and perseverance; if you’re strong, patient and don’t give up, them you will survive and finish whatever goal you might have in life. I found most or all of my strength from my family or within myself. I never give up on hope. The doors will open when you least expect them to open.