National Hire a Veteran Day

With the drawdown of troops in the middle east in recent years, a large cohort of military veterans has taken advantage of the GI Bill for collegiate education creating a steady flow of unique graduates. Not only do they enter the workforce with good academic credentials but those credentials are coupled with the strengths gained from the military culture.

There are very few cultures that shape people in the way the military does. Military Veterans have been a part of a culture that focuses on mission achievement, cooperation and personal development. They have experience working in and leading teams; adapting and performing well in fast-paced, stressful environments; and following directions precisely. They demonstrate integrity and loyalty, are committed to completing their work, are resilient to unpleasant working environments, and are accustomed to culturally diverse and global environments.

And though a unique culture, at the same time, the values ingrained in military veterans are in alignment with ETM’s core values: integrity, excellence and commitment.

England, Thims & Miller, Inc. (ETM) was founded in part by war veteran Bob Thims who voluntarily enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the height of the Vietnam War. From August 1966 to January 1967, aboard the aircraft carrier USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB/CVA/CV-42) Bob deployed to war torn Vietnam in the Southeast Asian Sea. Undoubtedly, it was Bob’s military experience that influenced the core values that ETM still embraces today.

Hiring Veterans is a sound investment. Though Bob was the first, a significant list of Veteran employees joined the ETM family through the years. Currently, there are 13 military Veterans among our staff of over 200 professionals.

Despite the undeniable differences in the backgrounds of our veteran employees, there are key similarities between successful members of the military and successful corporate employees. Kent Ponder, ETM Senior Project Engineer and Shareholder highlighted a few of the similarities in a recent interview.

“Engineering is just like anything else, including the military. It’s about relationships more than anything else,” said Ponder. “It’s often not what you know, but who you know.”

It was the relationships that Kent Ponder built while working in a Michigan Nuclear Plant after high school that he credits with his decision to join the Navy in the first place. And his relationships in the Navy played a big role in his military success where he advanced six pay grades from Seaman Recruit (E-1) to Petty Officer 1st Class (E-6). As a Weapons Control Officer and Division Lead Petty Officer, he managed and coordinated the operation of four departments and their various work centers. As early as bootcamp he understood the power of relationships and formed a solid one with his Bootcamp Commander who encouraged him to take advantage of the GI Bill. Kent credits that commander and advice with his successful transition to the corporate world.

After serving 6 years in the United States Navy, he enrolled at Florida State College of Jacksonville (formerly Florida Community College) intent on becoming a police officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. A professor who chose to mentor Kent encouraged him to investigate engineering because of his aptitude in math and science. Though it may have seemed a natural fit to pursue Electrical Engineering because of his Navy training, he chose to expand his experiences and do something different. Taking the initiative to call every engineering firm in the city of Jacksonville and arrange to shadow an engineer for a day, he narrowed in on civil engineering. Kent graduated with honors in 1998, earning a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering through the University of Florida, and began his engineering career with the Florida Department of Transportation. Once again it proved to be the relationships he built at the FDOT that played a key role in his decision to join ETM.

ETM’s success was built on relationships, and Kent’s ability to connect with people and form lasting relationships with our clients (a skill he sharpened through his military experience) plays a key role in keeping our firm successful.

Today, Kent would advise high school students uncertain about their future to join the military. He acknowledges that the leadership skills he learned through his military service have proven to be invaluable in his professional career. As one advances through the military's ranks, the dynamics of leadership become greater and greater both within the hierarchical and peer structures.

 “The military trains people to lead by example as well as through direction, delegation, motivation, and inspiration,” said Ponder.

He notes other valuable skillsets taught through military service that play a key role in the success of any engineering firm including integrity and the ability to perform efficiently under pressure. Veterans understand tight schedules and limited resources and as a result have the capacity to accomplish priorities on time, in spite of tremendous stress. And through integrity they are taught to stay with a job until the end.

But its not just the military training that produces exceptional talent for corporations. It is largely the caliber of the military members themselves. When we remind ourselves that only the top quarter of American youth qualify for military service, before military investment in their training and education, it is really no surprise that military veterans bring exceptional value to our company.

On National Hire a Veteran Day, we salute our Veterans employees and thank them for their service to our nation. We couldn’t be prouder to have them as members of our ETM family and are thankful for the exceptional commitment they bring to our firm.

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