On Veterans Day, I think of the many honorable men and women I served with during my 30 years in the U.S. Navy. I am in awe of the selfless sacrifices my fellow veterans made to protect and defend our country. After all, there’s a reason we call military work “being in the service.” I see this same dedication in our people at Pantex and Y-12.
At CNS, we are proud of the large number of veterans who choose to continue their service to our country by working at our sites. With programs such as Veterans to Engineers and the Department of Defense SkillBridge internship that work to bring in veterans who have retired or are near the end of their military service careers, we attract unique and valuable talent to our sites. For the fourth year running, CNS earned a Gold Award from the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, which recognizes employers for their efforts to recruit, employ, and retain our nation’s veterans.
I am so grateful to the many veterans who choose to offer their skills and commitment to this important national security work. I feel truly fortunate to work alongside you all every day.
In honor of this special day, I wanted to share thoughts on Veterans Day from some of our veteran employees.
“To me, Veterans Day is a national holiday reserved to observe those selfless, brave, and loyal individuals who voluntarily committed themselves to service to defend our great nation both past and present. Never be ashamed to exemplify your patriotism for the United States of America. I am Italian-American and a third generation U.S. Armed Forces veteran on just the paternal side of my family. The love for my nation, fellow Americans, and beliefs pulses through my veins. ‘As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.’ Proverbs 27:17 NIV”
Retired U.S. Army
“Veterans Day, to me, is an opportunity for all veterans to reflect on our individual obligation we took to our nation, state, and community. It is also a chance to remember our associations and friends, and the common incidents we all shared.”
Retired U.S. Army
“Veterans Day is a day to remember and honor the sacrifice and dedication that our brave brothers and sisters in uniform have made while defending our country’s freedom and way of life. It’s also a time for us to reflect on the time we spent serving our country and how we can continue to support those we trained to take our place. I’m thankful to have the unique opportunity to continue to contribute to our national security by providing the highest quality products from here at Y-12.”
“Veterans Day is a day of honor and appreciation for those of us who had, or still have, the privilege to serve our country and enjoy the freedoms and opportunities that are available. I hope that future generations come to realize the sacrifices that our armed forces and their families endure to promote the lifestyle that we, as Americans, have become accustomed to.”
Retired U.S. Navy
“The military will forever have a prominent place in my life – I was a military dependent as a child, a military member for 28 years, and a Marine Corps spouse. Our children are young and didn’t live through what our commitment to service truly demanded of us. Veterans Day affords us the opportunity to share that with them and open their eyes to all the possibilities in serving. I don’t want them to think of the military as Plan B for their own lives. Honoring the past makes way for the future – and we need them.”
Retired U.S. Air Force
“Veterans Day to me is a day of reflection on the sacrifices made by my fellow veterans, the 1% that choose to serve this great nation. It is an opportunity to thank them and their families. I am proud and honored to say that my daughter is one of those veterans that I will get to thank! It is such a great feeling to be a part of such an elite group of people even though I no longer wear the uniform. I will forever carry that pride within me every time I see beautiful Old Glory fly.”
Retired U.S. Air Force
Pantexan Brandi L. has contributed her efforts to Pantex and its mission for a decade-and-a-half in several different departments.
Brandi is an Amarillo native and graduated from West Texas A&M University with a degree in chemistry and biology.
“I had always been interested in a job at Pantex,” Brandi said. “I was born and raised in the Texas Panhandle. While I certainly didn’t understand the full mission of the plant when I was younger, I knew the mission was important to the United States and felt I wanted to be a part of that mission.”
While still a student, she made use of WT’s career services to assist with things like resumes and interviewing skills and, after she graduated, got a job working for a local environmental company. Then the personnel in the WT Career Services called her. They were having a career fair and knew that Pantex was looking for personnel with her skills. They had printed off her resume and asked her if she’d be able to come in for an interview.
“That was 15 years ago, and I still think about that scenario from time to time and feel blessed that the Career Services people, even though I had already graduated, were in my corner, and that [Pantex] took a chance on me,” Brandi said.
As an employee, what do you want to be remembered for?
I want to be remembered as a transparent leader who could be trusted to do what I said I was going to do.
What work advice would you offer someone who is new to Pantex?
Never stop listening and learning. The opportunities to make an impact at either site are endless. However, in order to make an impact, you must be willing to listen twice as much as you speak. Find the mentors and confidantes that you can run your ideas by and who are willing to provide constructive feedback.
What’s your favorite outside-of-work activity and why?
I love to fish, even when I don’t catch a thing! Going fishing with my husband and son provides for me a work-life balance and much-needed downtime where I can truly be present with my family.
Linda Brohlin has worked at Pantex for more than 50 years, and she was recognized for her service by Site Manager Colby Yeary
On May 14, 1973, the United States launched the Skylab, the world’s very first space station. Stevie Wonder had the nation’s No. 1 hit, “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” And Linda B. reported to her first day of work at Pantex as an experienced clerk.
An Amarillo native, Linda had graduated with a degree in business education and office administration at what is now West Texas A&M University on May 12; she started her job at Pantex, which was at that time operated by Mason & Hanger, two days later.
“My mama and daddy were so proud of me [getting this job],” Linda says with a smile. “When I first got the opportunity to come out here when I was in college, I was so excited. I had friends’ parents who worked out here, and I thought it sounded like an exciting place to work. And it is interesting stuff.”
Half a century later, she now supports the efforts of the Metal Trades Council, which itself represents the interests of more than 1,200 Pantex workers.
What is your favorite aspect about your work environment? How does that aspect make you know the mission is being met?
My favorite thing is being able to help people.
When I can help somebody – they ask, “how do you do so and so?” And I can help them figure out how to do it, and then the light comes on, “Oh, I get it now.” I enjoy being able to interact with the people I work with.
Anything I can help do for someone brings joy to my heart. I like to be able to help people with whatever they need, whether it’s a work question or just being a friend to them and help them be comfortable.
How does patriotism factor into your life? Did your level of patriotism change after working at Pantex?
It makes me think of my daddy, who was in the U.S. Coast Guard, and my grandmother, who worked out here when it was Proctor & Gamble, way back long ago.
My daddy was so proud to be a Coast Guard veteran. He would put the flag out on the house, and when we had family gatherings, we’d talk about it. It makes me feel proud that I know how proud he was to be serving his country. And, in my way, I can do the same thing.
I know so many people that have a patriotic mindset; we’re all willing to do what we can do and work together to make all this come together for the good of our families, the company, and our whole United States.
Incoming Pantex Field Office Manager Jason Armstrong has a lot on his plate but also every confidence in the men and women alongside whom he serves
Among the hundreds of names representing all the new faces at Pantex in recent months, one stands out. What makes this name unique isn’t the name itself but rather the title that comes with it: NNSA Pantex Field Office manager.
“Pantex has always been highly capable, efficient, and has been doing great work,” said Jason Armstrong, reflecting on the job before him.
Armstrong’s dress is a touch on the informal side. Indeed, little about the man points to his recent leadership of a workforce of some 4,000 people or the billion-plus annual budget he oversaw as the Savannah River Field Office Manager at Aiken, South Carolina.
Instead, Armstrong reflects, in many ways, the people he has come to both direct and serve. His office door is open wide. He proudly extolls his Hispanic mother’s Latin American heritage. Oh, and is that a smattering of ink peeking out from his rolled-up sleeves? At home, a Harley-Davidson waits for Armstrong to fire it up for a relaxing cruise.
“I have no doubt Pantex will be successful again,” Armstrong mulled. “People here know how to get things done. You’ve always found ways to get to ‘yes.’ So, when the opportunity came [to return to Pantex], I said, ‘yes, sign me up!’”
Armstrong’s personal synergy with the Texas Panhandle is no accident, according to NNSA Production Office Manager Teresa Robbins.
“I am so excited Jason has joined our team at Pantex,” she reflected. “When the administrator asked me if there was anyone I knew in NNSA who could do the job, I immediately thought of Jason. He is an experienced leader in DOE and NNSA. He is personable and likes to engage with people to ensure they have what they need to get the job done. He is passionate about our mission and quick to recognize successes and accomplishments. I am confident Jason is the right leader to guide Pantex and to continue the Pantex legacy of sustaining our nuclear deterrent through on-time delivery and high-quality products.”
Every day, thousands of Pantex employees go about their work day. Not many pause to consider the people on call 24 hours a day to make humble, yet vital, facets of daily life like temperature control and operating toilets—not to mention, many more vital mission operations—properly function.
“The Boiler House … We take care of creature comforts, heating the buildings. But, we also work processes for the labs and the humidity controls,” explained Pantex employee Johnny H. “We take care of most everything in Infrastructure that has anything to do with a utility.”
As it turns out, that’s quite a lot. And, according to one of Heredia’s colleagues, Russell L., the less visible the Utilities team is to the average Pantexan, the better it means their team is performing.
“Your average person comes to Pantex,” he began, “and does not know anything about the utilities because they can drink the water, they can go to the restroom, they can be comfortable. If they can’t, they’re calling Infrastructure Utilities. So, no news is good news for us.”
While Utilities employees may prefer to perform their work behind the scenes, the service they provide is crucial. In a very literal sense, their work makes our deterrent mission possible by creating the environmental conditions necessary for proper operations.
Johnny said having knowledgeable people who work well together increase solutions to common challenges.
“Most of the challenges we face are natural occurrences. When it’s summertime and running 110 degrees and above, systems are struggling to maintain temperatures and flows for the H20 system,” he said. “But we adapt. The team that I have, we have tons of experience, and they really take care of us.”