Today, and every day, we are grateful for our military personnel — past and present — for their service, sacrifice and dedication.
This day is a significant reminder for me and my family of the times we had to spend apart and for the reasons why people serve their Nation. Not everyone feels the call to voluntarily serve in the military, but for those of us who do, we are significantly changed because of it. And we are not alone. Our families are also pulled into sharing our experiences and we can’t forget the impact this has had on their lives, either.
I am proud to now be able to give back to the veteran community and serve as the global lead for Hitachi Vantara’s Veterans Employee Resource Group (ERG). Our proud community is working towards increasing the visibility and value of veterans’ skills in the workplace, as well as providing guidance on programs and policies while recognizing their achievements that have impacted our community.
A quote that I feel applies across every field and job and something we, as leaders, need to keep in front of us always is:
“The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow.”
– General Colin Powell
What motivated you to join the military, and what was your primary job after training?
Growing up, I would read and build models of my favorite airplanes, tanks and ships. My father served in the UK Royal Air Force as a missile engineer, my great uncle was a UK Marine tank recovery specialist in WWII, and his wife served in the UK Home Guard. At the age of nine, my family and I immigrated to the U.S. and hearing their stories only reinforced my hopes to serve. I signed to join the USAF in February of my senior year of high school and after graduation I entered Basic Training. I enlisted in the “Open General” field which allowed the USAF to choose my career and I was assigned as a Medical Services Specialist or Medic. My first year was spent on a labor and delivery ward, which might not have been my first choice, but it came in very handy when my wife and I had our own kids. Being a medic allowed me to help others and I really enjoyed that part, so I stuck with it. Later, I cross trained as a Flight Medic on a C-130 aircraft, and in my twelfth year, I was commissioned as a Medical Operations Officer in an Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.
How does your military experience affect your current job and life in general?
I was a lot less outgoing when I joined the military, but after joining, I noticed that being part of a solution or team was always better than standing on the sidelines watching events happen. The military taught me how to communicate clearly and bring people together to accomplish tasks. At Hitachi Vantara, I am the Project Manager for the Americas Center of Excellence, where we demonstrate to our partners and customers the hardware and software solutions we sell. It’s all about teamwork and how we, across all three Center of Excellence offices, work together to enable our sales organizations to better support our customers’ needs.
What are your goals/mission for the Veterans ERG?
Right now, my goals are simply to bring the veteran community and supporters together to allow for more communication across the different groups so that we always have someone we can reach out to. Just because we are no longer active in the military does not mean we can’t count on each other anymore. We can, because we are a “family.” The more communication we have across Hitachi Vantara, the more we understand how we can help each other.
What can civilians do to help support groups like the Veterans ERG?
If you’re part of the Hitachi Vantara family, join our group! We aren’t limited to just veterans, and welcome anyone who wants to join. The more we communicate across Hitachi Vantara, the more flexible we become. For veterans, it will also provide a place to tell your peers about your experience and how you feel you can better support the company’s efforts. When we do schedule events please participate and help us raise awareness of the causes we support.
If you’re not a Hitachi Vantara employee, you can look for similar resource groups at the organizations you’re part of. If you can’t find an existing group, consider starting one.
Philip Sandell is Project Manager for the Americas Center of Excellence and Global Lead of the Veterans Employee Resource Group at Hitachi Vantara.