Veterans in the Workplace: Saluting our veterans

Bill Berrien
Bill Berrien

Bill Berrien
Chief executive officer, Pindel Global Precision
Branch: U.S. Navy
Rank: Lieutenant
Years Served: 1991-1999

Describe your responsibilities and experiences while serving:

“U.S. Navy SEAL officer; commanding SEAL platoons and other special operations forces on operations globally.”

How can employers help veterans in the workforce?

“Employers would help most effectively if they aggressively help veterans build a technical base in their assignment and, later, from that base, the veteran’s leadership and management skills will be able to accelerate their contribution and impact.”

What is the biggest benefit from your service in your current position?

“The biggest benefit is the realization that I don’t need to be the expert in every aspect of the team’s responsibilities but, rather, build a team where others are experts (or at least much more functionally skilled) and then work with them to figure out how to collectively accomplish the mission. Also, for me, I enjoyed the ‘suck factor’ of the SEALs and few things can be more painful or uncomfortable, so daily life is pretty good.”

David King
David King

David King
President and owner, Elite Human Capital Group (eliteHCG)
Branch: Army (Active Duty)
Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
Years Served: 22

What is the biggest benefit from your service in your current position?

“The biggest benefit from my years of service is my ability to overcome adversity, along with leadership, organizational skills and my desire to assist others and improve the operations of organizations that I’m part of. As some might know, I inherited Elite after my wife Crystal passed away. I’ve had the chance to bring in a new culture, which is: work hard, play hard. We offer great benefits and flexibility to all employees with a nice work/life balance. EliteHCG is a great company that now provides talent acquisition to a variety of industries in 17 different states and is still growing.”

How can employers help veterans in the workforce?

“While serving in the military, veterans usually pick up some very unusual skill sets. Employers should look closely at those military skills to see if they are transferrable into current open positions. The seven biggest traits that a veteran can bring to the civilian workforce are: teamwork, ability to handle stressful situations, commitment to getting the job done, good communication, ability to follow instructions, great problem-solving skills and adaptability. Military personnel are often cross-trained in multiple skills and have experience in varied tasks and responsibilities. Much of this experience can translate to their participation in the workforce, making the veteran an asset to any organization.”

Katherine Ramirez
Katherine Ramirez

Katherine Ramirez
Founder and creative CEO, adBidtise
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Rank: Sergeant
Years served: 1988 to 1992 active, four years reserve

Describe your responsibilities and experiences while serving.

“I had a top-secret clearance role and worked on the Minute Man II Missiles at Whitman Air Force Base alongside the officers who were responsible for turning the key if and when the time came to launch the nuclear missiles. My role was to support the mission of protecting the officers who went down the silos for 48 hours at a time.”

How has your service influenced how you approach your career today?

“I learned early in the military that you have to work hard to earn your right to get what you want. The military teaches you that nothing should be taken for granted. You have to fight for everything you have and keep fighting to maintain your level of authority. It taught me about owning up to my mistakes and being responsible, and understanding that people depend on my role and mission every single day.”

Advice for veterans on navigating the workforce?

“Find the role that fits your personality and look for an opportunity that will allow you to be independent but still part of a team. The sky is the limit. There are so many opportunities available, it is just about what is the best fit for you and your needs so that it is a win-win for everyone.”

Fred Sitzberger
Fred Sitzberger

Fred Sitzberger
Founder and chief executive officer, Sitzberger & Co.
Branch: U.S. Army (82nd Airborne Paratrooper)
Rank: Specialist 4th Class
Years served: 1971 to 1973

Describe your responsibilities and experiences while serving:

“I was in an infantry company, but I was a company clerk. So, I would have to say that I was exposed to many different walks of life from across the United States and it made me very thankful to be from Wisconsin.”

How has your service influenced how you approach your career today?

“I saw a part of life that I was never exposed to and it made me appreciate where I came from. It gave me a broad viewpoint on things. It developed a thankfulness in me that my parents stressed education and made us go to work every day. All of those fundamental disciplines that were part of my youth. There were individuals who didn’t have this upbringing.”

Advice for veterans navigating the workforce?

“Show up early and leave late. It’s a simple success program for anybody in the workforce.”

Julie Waterman
Julie Waterman

Julie Waterman
Owner and chocolatier, Indulgence Chocolatiers
Branch: Army National Guard
Rank: Specialist
Years served: Six years

Describe your responsibilities and experiences while serving.

“My job was as a military intelligence analyst. While on deployment to Bosnia and Herzegovina, this meant I helped ensure laws were multiethnic friendly in my region and I helped track war criminals to bring to stand trial on the war tribunal.”

What is the biggest benefit from your service in your current position?

“I got to observe all sorts of leaders – some motivating and encouraging, and some that were clearly focused on the fact that they were in charge, and not much else. I really reflect on those good leaders and what inspired me while in the Army and try to adopt some of those concepts in my own role with Indulgence Chocolatiers.”

How can employers help veterans in the workforce?

“No two veterans are the same or have the same story. Employers need to let veterans know that they care about and support them. From there, create a place where open dialogue is welcome so that veterans have support and opportunity to better themselves personally and professionally within a company.”

Andy Weins
Andy Weins

Andy Weins
President, Green Up Solutions
Branch: U.S. Army Reserve
Rank: Sgt. First Class
Years Served: 2004-present

Describe Your Responsibilities While Serving:

“I’m a career counselor now … prior to that I did one tour in Iraq as a truck driver and I did one tour in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba as a military police officer.”

What advice do you have for veterans navigating the workforce?

“Network, network, network, put yourself out there … The biggest challenge is understanding where you fit in in the civilian world and seeking out opportunities because the civilian world isn’t always going to come knocking … and then recognize that you have to be able to speak both languages. You have to be able to articulate your military career into like terms in the civilian world.”

What can employers do to help veterans?

“Ask questions. It is really that simple. Veterans for the most part are open and honest, but we will not speak up because we’ve been trained to follow orders and not question authority. The best thing you can do as an employer … ask questions to understand the opportunities and challenges with every employee.”

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