REDLANDS -- She may have traded the "Danger Zone" for the loading dock but former Navy jet fighter pilot Becky Murphy wouldn't have it any other way.
After leaving the military in 2012, the Iraq and Afghanistan combat veteran, Navy officer, and former F-18 Super Hornet fighter pilot has joined nearly 2,000 veterans hired by Amazon in the past year, through an initiative to boost the company's ranks with service members transitioning into civilian life.
As an operations manager for the new Amazon Fulfillment Center in Redlands, which just began shipping orders in recent days, Murphy, 34, has found her second calling in another leadership position.
"For a pilot, mechanic, or tank driver, you still have great leadership qualities that are translatable to Amazon and it's been a great experience," said Murphy, who lives in Rancho Cucamonga.
Murphy is one of many who are part of the company's efforts to hire veterans, and the program is playing itself out in the Inland Empire, where the Seattle-based company has three West Coast distribution centers.
"Amazon values the leadership skills and problem-solving abilities that veterans bring to our fulfillment centers," according to a statement from the company. "It's really a great match. Veterans thrive in our fulfillment network."
About 1,900 military veteran hired on by Amazon in 2013 join several hundred vets who have already found employment in the company. Amazon offers programs to help veterans transition into civilian life, and connects them with an internal network of veterans for mentoring and support, according to spokeswoman Ashley Robinson.
Army National Guard chaplain Nathan Graeser, community liaison for the USC Center for Innovation and Research on Veterans and Military Families, said veterans represent great value to employers.
"Almost in general, you get a much higher quality of worker who is often extremely on time and used to hard work," Graeser said. "With veterans you get someone who has a tremendous amount of experience ... vets in general are an amazing resource -- most of them have had millions of dollars worth of training investment in them."
Nationwide, the total unemployment rate for veterans was at 4.7 percent in September, which dropped from 5.6 percent in August, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the past year, Amazon's military recruitment team attended more than 50 recruiting events to help veterans find jobs at the company.
It was at a similar event in Texas a few years ago that Murphy reconnected with an old Navy friend who had become a recruiter for Amazon. He convinced her to take serious consideration of the opportunity.
"When Amazon first started having conversations with me, I thought, 'this is intimidating," Murphy said. "What do I have to offer?' I realized that what I do have is a lot of leadership experience, and the ability to care for and organize groups of people and care for their well-being."
As an operations manager at the 500,000-square-foot Redlands Fulfillment Center, Murphy is responsible for overseeing every part of process inside the warehouse, from receiving orders, retrieving products from the warehouse floor, to packing them and getting the box out to the trucks on the loading dock.
The Redlands center, which handles products larger consumer items, employs about 500. Murphy began working at Amazon last year at its 1.2 million-square-foot fulfillment center in San Bernardino, which employs about 3,000 people.
"I've been challenged and new and different ways," Murphy said. "These aren't (camera memory) cards. These are really expensive TVs ... We always take quality in high regard. Some owners are probably waiting for their brand new TV to come in and we're going to make sure we get that TV to them on time, and it's in perfect condition. As we get ready for Christmas, it's really exciting to be part of that process."
For more info about Amazon's veteran recruitment program, visit amazonfulfillmentcareers.com.