Our military vets – their skills and experiences bring value to Sentry Air Systems

Much is written about how to help military veterans transition to civilian life.

Indeed, these Sentry Air employees readily recall their rough patches and a range of difficulties when they attempted to apply their military experience to civilian job requirements.

As an employer, we’re happy to have found them. They make a difference every day at our company.

Circuitry, robotics, GPS, sensors, computers, lasers, CNC

Jorge and a co-worker perform routine maintenance on a cutting machine in our engineering department.

Jorge and a co-worker perform routine maintenance on a cutting machine in our engineering department.

Jorge Antonio Sanchez grew up in Dallas. He joined the Marines Corps when he was 23.

He spent most of his four-year enlistment living out of his seabag as he was transferred from one location to another. When dealing with apartment leases at his so-called home base just got too complicated, he took up residency in a hotel. A bed, a TV, a place to shower; it was perfect for his life at the time.

His military job involved explosives in the form of bombs and rockets carried on F18 combat jets. He spent time in Iraq in 2008 and saw combat.

Jorge’s military training included electronics, computers, circuitry, global  navigation, robotics, and guidance systems.

Excellent Sentry Air staffer

At Sentry Air, he operates computerized machines that, from day to day, must function appropriately for cold steel, stainless steel, aluminum or polymers.

Jorge is a trusted member of our engineering group, where his vehicle is the first one in the parking lot each morning.

His engineering department boss says Jorge is flexible and handles change well. He also said that Jorge is organized, developed an effective inventory system for the machine he operates, and is an extremely hard worker [boss’s italics].

Impact of the military

Jorge says the marines gave him focus and eased him out of petty troubles he got himself into in his early 20s.

He also says that because military experiences are unfamiliar to civilians, “Vets don’t fit in all the time.” However, he likes that civilians remember his service on the Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day.

And he really liked it when a Vietnam-era vet acknowledged him in the grocery store a while back.

Right out of high school

Operations manager Luz Lawless says she takes pride in the accomplishments of friends who stayed in the Army and built careers there because she has an understanding of what it takes. The inset photo shows Luz and her husband in 2003.

Operations manager Luz Lawless says she takes pride in the accomplishments of friends who stayed in the Army and built careers there because she has an understanding of what it takes. The inset photo shows Luz and her husband in 2003.

Both concern and curiosity prompted Luz to enlist in the Army right out of high school — concern that her future might be limited by hometown opportunities and curiosity about how she might handle military challenges placed before her.

After basic training, where she grained “15 pounds of weight, the good kind,” Luz was trained in inventory management.

In 2002 she had responsibility for her company’s arms room. In 2003 she took responsibility for the rear detachment battalion’s entire inventory. She left the Army as a sergeant (E5).

Despite all this excellent experience, it took her four months before she found a job at Sentry Air. Getting her resume to match civilian expectations was not simple.

In the Army

While in the Army, Luz met and married Rob.

As her battalion was getting ready to go to Iraq, she counted among her friends nine pregnant solders, including herself. Her job was to make sure that every member of her battalion had all the necessary weapons, clothing, supplies, etc., needed for reposting to Iraq.

While Rob was on duty in Iraq, Luz gave birth to their first daughter in Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas. Their second daughter is a civilian.

Luz stayed in-country while her husband and her battalion went overseas. Before the battalion commander left, he handed Luz a long list of actions he wanted her to take while he was gone – so she did.

Army influence

Luz credits her Army experience with helping her learn to act despite innate shyness. It increased her confidence in herself.

For Luz, Army teamwork built special bonds. She loves it when she runs into a friend from her Army days and they easily slip into that old friendship groove.

And she feels she came to truly understand the concepts of sacrifice and selflessness beyond dictionary definitions.

At Sentry Air

Got a question? Go to Luz.

While she may have started in an inventory role, she’s also worked on sales quotes, shipping, accounts payable and account receivable, moved into accounting, and assembly. She cut her insurance claim teeth when hurricane Ike romped all over Houston in 2008.

So, yes, Luz is our go-to vet.

Not a former marine

Derek’s military experience and business training make him a good fit at Sentry Air

Derek’s military experience and business training make him a good fit at Sentry Air.

Derek Muse left the Marines kicking and screaming after 10 years. Well, his military discipline prevented the kicking and the screaming, but he really did want to finish his career with them.

Life stepped in, though, threw some curves, broke some bones and Derek became a disabled veteran.

He’s a marine, once and always. He remembers the evening he and his wife were getting ready to go out and she saw him checking his gig line. She told him he didn’t have to do that anymore and he said he didn’t know how not to; he’s a marine.

From New Orleans to New Orleans via Japan, Singapore, Hawaii, Alaska

Growing up in New Orleans, Derek noticed that people born in New Orleans tend to stay there. But he felt he might be able to craft a life to his liking if he saw more of the world.

Derek was 19 when he enlisted. His military life included the standards: basic training, weapons training, and hand-to-hand combat.

His performance in those activities prompted an offer to provide Marine Corps support to the White House. He turned it down.

He wanted, he said, a job with substantial content, multi-tasking, and lots of deadlines; in short, he wanted the stressors that come with administrative work.

Business school

Aptitude tests revealed Derek’s strong administrative potential.

While an active duty marine, he received the equivalent of a four-year college degree in business management: accounting, financial management, statistics, project management, strategic planning, inventory management, human resources – a long, useful list.

However, administrative duties did not prevent Derek’s assignment to typical military jobs.

While in Japan, he worked a flight line for fighter jets. He carried out pre- and post-flight inspections to insure everything on a half dozen F18s was working correctly. The work could be demanding and Derek loved the training philosophy: do it by the numbers and you’ll do it right.

Final tour

Back in New Orleans for his final post, Derek served as administrative aide to two commanding generals. He managed all their correspondence, drafted performance reviews and carried out a variety of HR tasks.

To accomplish big goals, you must develop strong structures and methodologies, he says. With those in place, you can wrap your arms around a project and truly see what needs to be done.

At Sentry Air

Derek entered Sentry Air with a purchasing role. However, he also plays a part in inventory control, project management, HR, and product development.

If I’d known, I would have done it sooner

Mark did two tours in Iraq. In the inset photo, Mark (middle) and comrades are in Iraq during the 'surge,’ a period of extended tours and additional troops sent to Iraq.

Mark did two tours in Iraq. In the inset photo, Mark (middle) and comrades are in Iraq during the ‘surge,’ a period of extended tours and additional troops sent to Iraq.

Mark Rossnagel had a nickname in basic training: Grandpa Raisin Bagel.

‘Grandpa’ because he was 33 and ‘raisin bagel’ because he somehow managed to stick one in his pocket each time he exited the cafeteria, even though it was against the rules.

He was busted for it, but it was the only way he could address his major complaint with the military: lots of food available, but not enough time to actually eat it.

Two tours in the infantry

Although his college degree would have allowed him to enter officer’s training, Mark wanted to be an enlisted infantryman. After basic training in 2005 and assignment to Fort Hood, he joined his already deployed battalion in Iraq.

His battalion was assigned to a region south of Bagdad that was experiencing major combat activity and sectarian violence, which continued into 2007.

He spent 10 months assigned to a tactical operations center, a communications hub where he was tasked with making sure that commanders up and down the line were fully informed of the status of activities in the region.

But he didn’t exactly feel like the infantry soldier his MOS (military occupational specialty) said he was. So he volunteered for a second tour in Iraq.

Second tour

During this 15-month tour, Mark served as a bodyguard to the division commander of multinational coalition forces in Baghdad, Iraq and surrounding areas.

His unit of 18 soldiers accompanied the commander, Major General Jeffery Hammond, wherever he went. To support Hammond, often described as extremely demanding, foot patrols and helicopters became facts of Mark’s military life.

For him, the second tour provided more satisfaction, was more personally rewarding than the first. To this day, he says about Hammond, “I was proud to serve under him.”

A back injury forced him back to civilian life.

From his time in college, though the first Iraq war and 9/11, Mark’s thinking about the military went through major changes. While he has no regrets, he does say that if he’d had his military experience at an earlier age, he would likely have made it his career.

At Sentry Air

Even though he’s heading off to full-time pursuit of a math degree, Mark describes Sentry Air as his favorite place. Here, he did website development, designed a testing chamber, developed software, tested user documentation, analyzed data and, most recently, made sales.

Mark’s skills and experience are always welcome at Sentry Air Systems.

 

We are proud of our vets. We are thankful for the sacrifices they made in serving our country; and appreciative of the contributions they continue to make to our company on a daily basis.

It is not enough to be thankful. Without the service of these people and people like them going back for generations . . . we would not have a country.

They deserve our respect and gratitude . . . and from the perspective of Sentry Air, they certainly have ours.

Bryan Rossnagel
President
Sentry Air Systems, Inc.