Veterans Day is a time for us to honor those who have served our country. For one day, we stand united in respect and admiration. But we also recognize that throughout the year our veterans continue to serve the public by keeping our transit system moving. Valley Metro is honored to have dozens of employees and service providers who are U.S. veterans. They contribute to all facets of our regional transit system. They are the men and women who operate and maintain our buses and trains, who provide safety and security, who answer rider calls and questions, and who plan for future bus service and light rail extensions. Our veterans have served in all branches of the military, across the past five decades, and in places around the United States and across all corners of the globe including Vietnam, Iraq, Japan, Panama and the North and South Poles. It is during their service that they learned valuable skills that are advancing the way people commute and travel throughout the Valley. Among those attributes, attention to detail, teamwork, performing well under pressure and providing solutions to serious issues that affect our riders and neighbors.
Eric Vaughan is an Assistant Operations Manager for First Transit Tempe/Mesa, which operates Valley Metro’s bus service in the East Valley. His troubleshooting skills are put to use daily. “I enjoy transit because every day presents a new challenge,” he said. “Transit is also one career field in which a person can advance using the skills they learn on the job. Many of our management and supervisor staff began as bus drivers.” Military skills are especially valuable for Allied Universal, which provides security services for Valley Metro. Through its national Hire Our Heroes program, Allied has committed to hiring 5,000 veterans, reservists, their family members and caregivers each year. Here in metro Phoenix, Allied has hired more than 225 veterans during the past 18 months. Thirty-two of them provide security services for Valley Metro Rail, including Account Manager Dave Taylor whose career in the Air Force spanned 24 years and took him to Alaska, West Germany, Saudi Arabia and Luke Air Force Base. “My military life taught me honor, respect and an outstanding work ethic, which continues to benefit me, our officers and our clients daily,” said Taylor.
Three years in the Army taught Chris Hager discipline, teamwork and customer service. Now as Director of Transit Operations at Total Transit, he says, “Working in transit has allowed me the opportunity to make a difference in someone else’s life every single day.” Roy Alvarado echoes that sentiment. He served six years in the U.S. Coast Guard as a diesel and helicopter mechanic. As Utility Manager for Light Rail Design and Construction, he says, “I truly enjoy helping build a great light rail system that positively impacts our riders and the cities it travels through.” Within Valley Metro, there are veterans who are starting new careers in transit and those who have dedicated decades to the industry. Peter Valenzuela spent eight years in the Navy as a Shipboard Firefighter. Currently an intern at Valley Metro, he’s applying problem-solving and analytic thinking as he embarks on a new career as a transportation planner. John Philippi learned electronics and system troubleshooting at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. The Assistant Superintendent of Light Rail Vehicle Maintenance has used those skills in railcar manufacturing and rail maintenance for the past 35 years. There are many more veterans who work on our own front-lines and out of the public eye to better our community and quality of life. It is to each one of them that we extend our gratitude and appreciation on Veterans Day and every day.