Christopher Poe US Army, E-5, separated
"I would tell somebody leaving the military to keep the same frame of mind and organization that you had in the service."
As far back as grade school I had thought to join the Army. I come from a military family and felt not only a desire for what was an honorable profession; I felt a sense of duty. I had six uncles go to Vietnam; five came home.
I joined the Army in 1990 at age 17 and separated from active service in 1998. I spent 4 years in the Light Infantry, 7th ID(L) in Ft. Ord, California and Ft. Lewis, Washington. These are the most noteworthy and pride-filled memories of my 8-year career. Then I transferred, becoming a mechanized Infantry NCO at Ft. Carson, Colorado and Ft. Riley, Kansas. During my career I was deployed 3 times - Kuwait, Cuba and Bosnia.
After eight years in the Infantry, my outlook of civilian life was that I would do well no matter where I ended up - working or schooling. The greatest gift my Army experience has given me is a sense of myself, and what I can accomplish. I believe that few people on Earth know exactly what they can do both physically and mentally without the same kind of opportunity. At the brink of exhaustion, wet from the rain, with a 100-lb. pack on your back, somehow you find the strength to keep going. That is the attitude I take in the civilian world. I'd assumed that my civilian career opportunities would be limited, but my military awards and experience as a Squad Leader gives me the distinction of someone that can get the job done.
I'm married and have three children: Jessica, Lauryn, and Gregory. My wife Kerry played a major role in our time in the Army and deserves kudos for her efforts. My hometown is Newton, Massachusetts and we returned here after my tour of duty.
Kerry made the transition to civilian life a lot easier than I did, although we occasionally find ourselves fondly remembering "the good times." I'm currently a member of the Army National Guard but I miss the Infantry - you don't find the same camaraderie anywhere else.
Currently, I'm a Quality Control Manager for a major engineering firm in the telecommunications industry. I'll soon be commuting to Virginia for a 2-year project as Site Manager for a major cable network construction contract. I found my job through the Dept. of Labor and Unemployment (Veteran's Division). I got help from a fantastic retired Army Major, Clay Conard, who has more contacts than I can count. After my separation I found my first job on my own, but Mr. Conard contacted me for my current position. I nervously went for the full-blown interview and happily discovered the Human Resources interviewer was an ex-Artillery Officer.
I would tell somebody leaving the military to keep the same frame of mind and organization that you had in the service. Hard charge, chin up, clean-cut and unstoppable - and on the outside, you will flourish!
Compiled by: Barbara Poisson