Nevada Air National Guard, 2003-present (Active Duty & Reserves)
1st Sergeant, Aerial Delivery
I was deployed for almost four years straight, and I did tours of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Uzbekistan, Germany and Amsterdam. The most memorable part of my service was definitely all of the different places I got to travel; I probably would never have had the chance to go to any of those places if it wasn’t for the military. I got to spend nine months in Kuwait which was really memorable; the people there are great and the culture is amazing. Travelling is one of the greatest benefits of being in the military, and you get to meet so many different people from all over the place.
When I transitioned out of active duty, it was very tough. As active duty servicemen and women, we get so used to being in the military and having that military mentality, so used waking up every morning and knowing what we would have to do that day. When I got home from combat tours, I realized there was nothing for me to do. Transitioning back to being a civilian is tough for a lot of people, including me. It’s hard to get back into the swing of things and start looking for a good job.
Finding good work wasn’t easy. I took a lot of little jobs, here and there, trying to find something good. I didn’t really have a civilian career path in mind, because the career I wanted was to be in the military full-time, but that didn’t work out. I did the Reserve thing, and it took me years to settle down and really find a career. Finally, I got lucky enough to become part of the NV Energy team, but it took me about three years to find that career. And that was really thanks to the friends I had who worked there; they told me, “Just keep applying and applying.” I would go to the website every day to check for new job opportunities and it finally paid off. I’m still in the Reserves, and NV Energy has been great in terms of letting me have the time off I need to fulfill my National Guard duties.
I definitely think the union has helped me cement my place in the civilian world. When I became part of the union, it felt like I found that same sort of brotherhood I had in the military. You have your union brothers, just like you have your brothers in arms, and many of my union brothers were also in the military, so they understood what I was going through, how I was feeling and the transition between the two.
When I was looking for a job, there weren’t any programs or groups or anything to help me out back then, and that’s what makes the IBEW 1245 Veterans Program so important, and that’s why I’m a part of the union’s Veterans Committee.
If there’s one piece of advice I could give returning vets who are transitioning back to civilian life, it would be to actually sit down and take the time to think about what you want to do with your life, and carve out a path that way, instead of trying to take a job that doesn’t fit you. Find a job that you actually want to do, and it will stick. Don’t give up, because you’ll never be happy if you do.