The sound of wrenches banging against metal, the aroma of oil and grease that filled the air, and the sight of his dad working as a small business owner of a garage was Joel’s inspiration for his love for mechanics. He says, “As far back as I can remember, mechanics is what I wanted to do. I loved to see how things worked and fix things when they broke,”
Joel joined the Army to get an education in what he loved to do, but he received much more than what he anticipated. When asked what his greatest challenge was to overcome in transitioning from civilian life into the Army he said, “I was great at individual sports like wrestling, but I wasn’t good at team sports. I knew how to do individual things right, and I could score an “A” in them. My drill sergeant took notice of my attention to detail, ability to follow rules and ability to complete tasks with excellence. Because of my “A” performance he made me squad leader, a role I wasn’t looking to obtain and didn’t like. It was outside my comfort zone and required more of me than I believed I could give. Little did I know then, how much more “teaming together” I would be doing.”
During Joel’s years of service in the Army, he continued to grow from an individual player and more into a team player. Teaming efforts didn’t stop after bootcamp. Bootcamp was just the initial preparation for what was to come. Wherever we go in life, there’s always a necessity to team together. Joel elaborated on such an experience while stationed in Germany.
“The weekends would get pretty cold. We had a group of soldiers who would be rotated through to come in and start up all the engines so that the batteries wouldn’t freeze. One day, we came in to start up the 127 engines and only 7 started – not a good situation especially when you consider there’s an enemy waiting for the right opportunity to attack. This put us in a very vulnerable position, and we needed to work together fast to get these engines working. We relentlessly worked 24 hours straight in a united team effort to put these batteries under heat lamps to get them running. We came together as a team! No one soldier could have done this individually. We were all tired and frustrated, but we got through it. The greatest life lesson I learned that day is that a group of people, with differing personalities and unique life backgrounds, can pull together when needed.”
After six years of dedicated active duty, Joel transitioned back into the civilian workforce. He recalls his greatest challenge was transferring his military skills into a language the civilian workforce could understand. To overcome that challenge he said, “I aligned myself with people who knew the industry and relied on my work ethic to get me through as I cross-trained myself back into civilian life.”
“Since I’ve been out,” Joel says, “I’ve learned to appreciate the character development I gained from the military and I now want to pass that on to others. As a business owner, I ensure my employees have a good atmosphere to work in and they in turn provide great service to our customers. I continue to have a Mission to Serve and do so with the Veteran Memorial Foundation in Casa Grande, Arizona.”
I asked what words of wisdom Joel could give to transitioning veterans as well as to employers. To the veteran, “It’s awkward when you get out. It’s almost like a completely different lifestyle. It’s okay to laugh, make mistakes and to be human. Ask questions and pick the brains of others so that you can learn how to fit back in. There are other veterans who transitioned before you and they want to help you grow. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.”
To the employer, “Understand veterans have a great work ethic. Trust they know what they’re doing. The military training they received is outstanding. The terminology is different, so you’ll have to have some patience as you bridge the gap of understanding it, but if you keep an open door to communication, you’ll have a great person on your team.
We salute Joel Brookmyer for his service and thank him for sharing with us his Mission to Serve.
If you would like to learn more about Joel, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you want to learn more about the value veterans bring to the civilian workplace and how you can get prepared to be a veteran friendly employer? If so, request a free consultation here.