Every Nov. 11, the United States honors those who served in the military with a day to commemorate their service: Veterans Day.
At Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, we salute the veterans who bring their valuable experience and knowledge to our university as faculty, staff and students. This week, we will recognize some of those individuals. We thank all veterans and their families for their service and sacrifice.
Thomas O’Brien IV, director of employee relations in the Department of Human Resources, served nine years in the Army. Before joining Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, he was a shipboard human resources director for Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise lines, serving over 1,200 crew members from 72 different nations living and working on vessels home ported all over the world.
While in the Army, O’Brien, an adjutant general officer (Human Resources), deployed to combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. He received three Bronze Star medals and the Combat Action Badge.
“Deployments for a unit and an individual soldier are very memorable due to the amount of planning, preparation, training and execution of the mission,” O’Brien said, recalling the Herculean effort to move a battalion and its equipment to the Middle East in a three-week window of time. Then came 12 months of working side-by-side in a potentially dangerous environment, “working to defeat the enemy and bring stability to a country through outreach to the local community.”
“During a deployment you will work, dine, laugh, and cry together,” O’Brien said. “This builds up a true sense of team, and my fellow soldiers who I served with will always be considered my friends for life because of the uniqueness of our relationship that was built up over the whole cycle of a deployment.”
O’Brien said members of the military face unique challenges when they prepare to leave the service, particularly when it comes to finding employment afterward.
“In the civilian world, you secure a job, then you give your two weeks’ notice, and off you go to your new job. In the military, you cannot give a two weeks’ notice. You give a multi-month notice that has a final out day way in the future,” O’Brien said.
“If you have a great veteran candidate that is applying but their availability is off a few months, consider offering them the position and waiting for them to be able to join the team,” Obrien advised. “You will not regret it. You will gain a loyal and pride-filled partner.”