For E5 Navy Engineer man Miguel Diaz, life is about adventure. Diaz’s grandfathers were both military men and when he heard their stories growing up, it made him want to join the military too.
“I always wanted to be in the Marines, but I was too young to sign up, so I went to college first,” he said.
Diaz went to school for chemical engineering. But when he turned 19 years old, he dropped out and joined the Navy.
“By that time I wanted to travel the world,” he said.
Diaz was deployed to eight different countries, including Bahrain. While deployed,, he ranked up four times in three years.
Diaz said he got the biggest adrenaline rush during Damage Control Training in General Quarters because they would practice emergency situations, dressing up as different types of response teams. One of these was a firefighting role and his training paid off when a refueling ship caught fire.
“There was one pipe that busted and the fuel came out. Some fuel that hit really hot machinery in the ship caught fire,” he said. “Luckily we were there to respond to it. That ship took about 400 people. No one got hurt because of our training.”
After completing his fourth year, Diaz left the Navy and he took work in different states and continued to travel before returning home to Newark, N.J. He then went back to school, staying in the mechanical field, where he met his wife.
Although Diaz did not have the same struggle as many other post-9/11 veterans in finding employment, he wanted a stable career. Ten years after leaving the Navy, Diaz found what he was searching for with Sharp Decisions’ V.E.T.S.™ Program.
“[Sharp Decisions senior recruiter] Eric [Wegfahrt] contacted me about the program and it was a great opportunity,” he said. “They were trying to get veterans together. I always liked working with military members because of the camaraderie; we have more stories to share. Eric explained the program and it was a good opportunity; a career path. I also always had an interest in computers, too.”
Diaz enjoyed being part of the first class of veterans and his role in setting precedents for future classes.
“It kind of gave me an insight of going back to the military; trying to learn ways of advancing, picking up on new things and expanding my knowledge,” he said. “Being in the first class, we’re like the stepping stone for future classes. We set up the plan for them, and I actually put a learning plan together for them.”
He is also very appreciative of Sharp Decisions CEO Karen Ross and vision behind the creation of the V.E.T.S. Program.
“Karen has a strong attitude, the kind that goes along with the military and being a business owner,” Diaz said. “She cares about her employees and she cares to make sure you get employed and stay employed.”
Damage Control training helped Diaz save lives in a ship fire and now Sharp Decisions’ V.E.T.S. Program is helping save his, and many other veterans’ lives back home.