November 16, 2018
Various service medals on display. The medals were brought and displayed by Corrections' employees for a Veteran’s Day celebration. (Rachel Friederich, DOC Communications)
Department of Corrections (DOC) seems to have a knack for recruiting veterans. In fact, 14.7 percent of its employees—or 1,254—are veterans.
The department strives to be an employer of choice among those transitioning from the military to civilian life.
Corrections' communications recently interviewed nine veterans about their experiences going back to civilian employment and how the agency has supported them. The following is an abridged interview with selected responses.
Nathon Anglin, 58, U.S. Navy 1978-1983; Oregon National Guard 1989-1991
Christie Apker, 41, Army National Guard 2004-2006 and 2015-2018
Danny Fulton, 30, U.S. Marine Corps 2006-2011
Patrick Hills, 55, U.S. Navy 1982-1986; Active US Naval Reserves 1986-1991; Inactive U.S. Naval Reserves 1991-1993
Jarrod Irvin, 44, U.S. Army 1997-2017
Ryan Williams, 40, U.S. Air Force 1997-2001
Jeffrey Yancey, 68, U.S. Marine Corps 1968-1972
Linda Yobbagy-Finn, 61, U.S. Navy, 1985-1989
For more detailed information about the participants, click here.
An Interview with Veterans
What influenced your decision to enlist in the military?
Danny Fulton: Many men in my family have served in the U.S. military in each of its branches. I always knew I would continue the tradition since I was young, but when I was in sixth grade, I watched the terror attack on the Twin Towers happen in real time on T.V. and that only solidified my reason to serve.
Patrick Hills: My family has a proud tradition of serving in the military, which we can trace back to the Civil War. My grandfather was an officer in the U.S. Navy and on board the USS Utah, when it was sunk on Dec. 7, 1941 in Pearl Harbor. He survived the sinking and went on to serve 23 years in the Navy. My father was a naval officer during the Vietnam era, who also served 23 years in the Navy. I wanted to continue the family tradition of serving my country in the U.S. military. I knew the military could help me learn a trade, get experience and mature as a person. My son, who recently graduated from college, has also joined the U.S. Marines as an officer, continuing the family tradition.
What are some of the skills and experience you gained in the military?
Nathon Anglin: I was attached to the VP (patrol) squadrons out of Moffett Field. These were anti-submarine squadrons. I was a photogenic lab technician. We processed films from the aircraft for purposes of mapping and intelligence, and photographed things for historical records and forensics.
Jarrod Irvin: Listen to instructions and follow them. As my career progressed, I learned more about dealing with people and with leadership. Once the Army sent me to school to learn how to manage its Equal Opportunity Program at a technical level. I discovered not only a passion for equity, but for training as well.
Was DOC your first job post-military? If not, what types of jobs did you have in between?
Ryan Williams: I had a year break between the military and DOC. I worked for the carpenters union, but it was a bad time for construction. I ended up filling a temporary role in the Air Force Reserves loading deployment pallets for C-17s (military transport aircraft).
Jeffrey Yancey: While I was still in the Marine Corps, I worked part time as an armed security guard for private companies during my off-hours. When I separated, I began attending community college full time on the GI Bill, as I had earned a GED while in Vietnam, but left after a year or so due to finances. I went to work at the company my father worked at, a private military defense contractor in North Virginia doing software engineering on weapons and tactical systems.
What were some of the general challenges you faced transitioning back to civilian life?
Patrick Hills: Detoxing from military life took some time, about six months to a year after leaving. The military takes care of your every need: clothing, medical, housing, transportation, when you get up in the morning, when to go to bed, what your job was, and where you are going to be sent around the world. It takes a while to reorganize yourself and plan your own day. I remember lots of times after being out of the military, jumping out of bed in the middle of the night and standing at attention, thinking I was late for muster or watch. Or waking up and not knowing where I was, which country I was in, or which ship I was on.
Ryan Williams: It was difficult. The military takes care of everything for you. It’s a big challenge to work in a different environment.
What were your employment related challenges?
Christine Apker: The only challenge I really faced was getting all of my DOC mandatory training up to date. Since I missed the regular rotation, I had to travel long distances to get back into compliance. In particular, I had to redo the firearms academy, as I let my certification lapse for two years. When I was due to go (for training), I did not because I wanted to get my caseload squared away as much as possible before my deployment to make it easier for whomever had to backfill me. This combined with my 12 month deployment required me to take the full week’s training over again and out of town. After being away from home for a year, the last thing I wanted to do was have to be away for a week for employment.
Jarrod Irvin: Learning how to translate my experience into terms and concepts that are relatable to non-veterans, and getting to know myself outside the Army was a challenge. Trying to figure out how my knowledge, skills, and how my abilities fit into a civilian workplace was a challenge.
What led you to seek employment with DOC?
Danny Fulton: I met a guy who currently works at DOC and told him about my trade skills and experience. He thought I would be a great fit. I never thought of it to begin with, but after having worked in the Marine industry for a few years and dealing with hours of commuting and constant traveling, I saw an opportunity here that just seemed perfect.
Jarrod Irvin: One of the things I came to know about myself during my transition was that I was not going to be happy working for a business whose ultimate goal was to make money; I needed to do something that helped people. I remember the motto on the state’s website that said, “work that matters.” That’s what I wanted.
What makes DOC a veteran-friendly employer? What have you observed in your current job that supports veterans?
Christie Apker: I’ve found with both my federal and state deployments that DOC human resources staff are very well-versed in federal and state laws regarding deployed workers. DOC works hard to ensure all laws and rights are being followed. I also find it very admirable we (state workers) are given paid leave for military duties, which helps with some of the financial loss that we, as citizen soldiers, sometimes face.
Linda Yobbagy-Finn: We have a very active veteran committee here at the Penitentiary and they are always involved in supporting our veterans. I’m very proud of the work they’ve done and continue to do. Each year, during Veteran’s Day, there is a recognition event for our veterans and I’ve been a participant in those programs.
Are there any skills in the military you use at your current job?
Nathon Anglin: A firm understanding of “chain of command.” Skills interacting with people of different cultures and backgrounds. I deal with people under community supervision in a manner that was learned in the service: consistency and structure. It seems to work. They know what to expect from me in any situation and that’s returned with the same expectations.
Linda Yobbagy Finn: I learned loyalty to the organization, respect for my superiors, attention to detail, completing the job and not relying on others to do my work. Also dedication and support for my fellow staff members.
For those who have ever been on active duty during employment with DOC, how has DOC supported you during your service?
Christie Apker: While service members are deployed and serving their community, DOC still has a mission and job to do: improve public safety. It still has an obligation to the communities it serves and staff working who are not deployed. We, as civilian soldiers, are expected to serve when called and accepted this when we enlisted. The only thing we expect from our civilian employers is that they abide by state and federal laws and reinstate us to our positions we had prior to our activations. Having served with hundreds of soldiers who were not employed by DOC on multiple state and federal activations, I must say that DOC does a great job at doing this.
What do you like most about working at DOC?
Danny Fulton: The sense of camaraderie around here. It definitely reminds me of my time spent in the Marine Corps.
Ryan Williams: It’s the closest type of career that relates to military structure. It has a rank structure to move into different positions for people who want to move up after a certain time, or do something different while still keeping the same job classification.
What advice would you give veterans seeking work?
Jeffrey Yancey: Explore many different possibilities within the department to see what suits you best, in terms of experience and desire.
Linda Yobbagy-Finn: I would recommend DOC due to the fact it is veteran friendly and it provides excellent wages and benefits.
For access to the full interview transcript, click here.