UVA Human Resources Veterans Recognized
Veterans Day is November 11, and we honor and recognize all U.S. military veterans who have served this nation, including military veterans who currently work across Grounds at UVA. We also honor and acknowledge the sacrifices made by the families of the men and women who have served. Amongst this group deserving your recognition are a small number of veterans and spouses of veterans working within the Human Resources department. We asked our HR veterans and military spouses to reflect on what it meant for them to serve in the military or support a military veteran, and how that experience has impacted their work at UVA. Here is what they had to say.
John Kosky, Interim Vice President and Chief HR Officer (Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army)
The privilege of serving our nation was the honor of a lifetime. For me, the sacrifice of service and everything that encompasses the duty to serve – the long deployments abroad, time away from family and friends, being comfortable in harm’s way – pale in comparison to being a part of protecting our nation, citizens and our way of life. Serving as a noncommissioned officer in the US Army infantry taught me tremendous life lessons that serve me well to this day. It’s all about determination, teamwork and focusing on something bigger than yourself. One of our mantras were shoot, move and communicate and was reinforced in everything we trained and fought for. The same principles translate nicely into the business world: execute, stay flexible, share information and look after your teammates at all costs, like your life depends on it. Veteran’s Day is a fantastic opportunity to honor a friend or colleague and make them feel that the sacrifice does not go unnoticed.
Lesli Porter, HR Healthcare Recruiter (HT3, U.S. Navy
Serving my country was a true honor and is one of the best decisions I ever made. Serving not only taught me discipline, trade and lessons, it also gave me a sense of pride and determination to be the best I can be for not only myself but for others. I entered Navy bootcamp in Orlando, then attended Firefighting school at the Treasure Island Naval Station. My first station was Adak, Alaska in the Aleution Islands, 500 miles from Russia. There I joined the Naval Station Fire Department and advanced from 2nd Nozzleman to Crew Chief of my fire team. For the remainder of my tour, I was stationed at Naval Station San Diego 32nd Street Waterfront Operations. There is where I found my calling as a Hull Tech 3rd Class. I became a certified welder and repaired the ships and tugs as they came into port. My youngest son has just completed bootcamp at the Great Lakes, Illinois Naval Training Station. He will go on to Damage Control School, then to Special Forces training.
Terrie Forst Griggs, HR Local Support Partner (Tech Sergeant, U.S. Air Force)
As a child I wanted to be a lawyer, someone who fought for the little guy, someone who righted wrongs and gave order to chaos. My path led me otherwise; a friend was joining the USAF and asked me to go with her, and a recruiter convinced me that the need was greater for the nation than my personal interests. I was one of fewer than 10% of females in the USAF Security police when I joined in 1987. We guarded the USAF planes until they left a country, provided oversight of nuclear transports, defended our bases, and guarded the planes of our honored dead with a heavy heart. I served in three U.S. states and two foreign countries, and spent time in post-communist Romania. I’ve been through coup attempts and attempted assassinations in the Philippines, was in Panama just after the Noriega affair and helped shut down our bases there.
I believed then and I believe now, that seeking knowledge, no matter the form; travel; higher education; on-the-job training -- all contribute to making us better humans. I hold to the axiom of “Service before self.” Other than my family, there is no greater effort I am more proud of than my service to this country. In these troubling times we must believe in “United we stand…divided we fall.” May the coming year bring us unity, strength, & peace. God Bless.
Rich Parella, Sr. HR Business Partner (Pilot P3-C Orion, U.S. Navy)
On Veterans Day, we rightfully focus our attention on the men and women who have served our country. They deserve our gratitude for their commitment and willingness to sacrifice, and Veterans Day offers us the opportunity to thank them for their service. It is also important to honor the sacrifices made by the families of the men and women who have served. The support that these families provide, both at home and abroad, is an invaluable part of a military career, and I encourage the families of our veterans to be in your thoughts on Veterans Day as well.
I entered the U.S. Naval Academy in July of 1999, but my entire career, like those of the men and women I served with, would be shaped by the events of September 11. The training and deployments that followed meant years marked with missed birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and holidays. I’ll never truly appreciate the impact that had on my family, and Veterans Day is an opportunity for me to thank them for their support.
It’s apt that Veterans Day falls in November, as it draws my focus to those currently deployed overseas who are preparing to miss the holidays at home. For them and their families, their absence during this time of year represents just a small part of the many sacrifices they make in their commitment to our country. Veterans Day provides the perfect opportunity to offer our gratitude for that commitment to those currently serving and those who have served.
To all my fellow veterans and their families, thank you for your service!
Nic Miceli, HR Benefits Specialist (E5 Staff Sergeant, U.S. Air Force)
I had the honor of serving in the U.S. Air Force with some of the most incredibly talented and hard-working people that I have ever met. My time in the Air Force taught me what good leaders looks like, that no person can do the job alone, that collaboration and conflict resolution must happen at the most direct route possible, that clear guidelines help enforce policies, and that it is critical that we look out for each other.
Serving in the Air Force also taught me that we do not always get to make easy choices in our roles, and that those difficult decisions and crucial conversations sometimes have to happen with people we consider friends. I also learned that being on the receiving end of those crucial conversations can be humbling and growth-related, if we allow it.
I deployed to places that I never want to go back to, and missed milestones for my son when he was little, but these actions also led to my love of the rights that we have as Americans. I would like for my co-workers to think about those rights, understand how the sacrifice of others helps maintain those rights, and that those rights come with the responsibility to take care of each other.
Maria Terry, HR Employee Relations Consultant (Financial Management Specialist, U.S. Army)
Serving in the United States Army was one of the best decisions I made in life. I’m very proud to have supported our nation and soldiers during wartime. My service to my country carries through in how I approach everyday life, and it is my goal to continue to serve my community as much as I can. Our veterans still have considerable hurdles to overcome. We continue to lose veterans to suicide, and women veterans struggle to receive the care that best supports them. We need to normalize the conversation around mental health. Under the leadership of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), we witnessed the Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011 come to life. Since exiting the military, I’ve advocated for veterans in Washington, DC, and I will miss going to NYC to march with thousands of veterans this year on Veterans Day, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
My role as Financial Management Specialist supporting the soldiers at my duty station prepared me well for my human resources career, because it taught me about customer service, accuracy, accountability, presentation skills, and conducting exit interviews. My time in Iraq taught me about the mission and working in teams. Veterans are a great asset to any organization because we adapt to change, work well with others, and excel in conducting operations. Veterans care deeply about getting the task done and supporting their team. Almost always, veterans look for ways to continue to serve. Please thank a veteran for their service and sacrifices.
Cori Catto, HR Employee Relations Consultant (spouse of active duty U.S. Marine)
My husband is currently active duty in the United States Marine Corps. Being a part of the military family is a blessing and an honor, albeit challenging at times. Aside from the challenges associated with frequent moves and absences, unsteady employment (my own), and not being near extended family support, these struggles pale in comparison to those faced by families of fallen and wounded veterans. I hope that on Veteran’s Day and every day, more Americans become aware of the sacrifices made by these families, and actively begin to support organizations devoted to helping them (e.g., Semper Fi Fund).
Being married to a military member has supported my role in HR by teaching me the value of true leaders and motivators of people – and that we are all capable of being better. True leaders are selfless, humble, and committed to the mission. In Employee Relations, I encourage managers and employees to practice military values such as integrity, teamwork, courage and knowledge.
Dwayne "Dean" Willis, HR Benefits Specialist (Senior Airman, U.S. Air Force)
I don’t have much to say other than beginning my service in the United States Air Force at the tender age of 17 was one of the best choices I made early in my life. It was a truly edifying yet humbling experience.
Crystal Fitz, HR Compensation Specialist (Private, U.S. Army)
My very first HR role was in Kunsan, Korea. I worked in the personnel office for about half of my tour and helped interpret policies, created training guides, and answered questions about benefits for my fellow soldiers. This is where I first began my love for helping my colleagues.
I am very proud to have had the opportunity to be a member of the United States Military and follow in the footsteps of great men and women who fought and died for the freedom that we have today. It was my honor to serve this great nation. Veterans have made the ultimate sacrifice for you and your family to be able to have everything that you have today. Thank a veteran when you see them, not only on Veterans Day, but every single day. I am grateful to have served beside the men and women that I came to know as my family. We looked out for each other and kept each other safe at all costs. It was the best, most rewarding, and most exciting job I have ever had.
Diane Lahue, HR Workday Analyst (Medic and Lab Technician, U.S. Navy)
As a U.S. Navy Medic and later Lab Technician, the military gave me so many gifts that have stayed with me: discipline, organization, and efficiency, to name a few. I’ve carried those gifts with me throughout my successive careers. For a long time I didn’t tell anyone that I was a veteran. It was completely uncool. I’m glad to see the tide has turned, and I appreciate the opportunity to tell my tale. If you value your freedom and the greatness of this nation, stop and thank a U.S. military person whenever you can, not just on Veterans Day. They fight every day to preserve our way of life and our country. I wouldn’t trade my time serving this country for anything.
Being part of the military allowed me to belong to a large, connected community, which continued with additional service in the U.S. Navy Reserves. I am grateful that I now belong to the UVA Community, and the Human Resources community of dedicated colleagues who commit themselves every day to serve others.
Chris LaMonda, Local Service Provider (Lance Corporal, ARFF, U.S. Marine Corp)
I am a 3rd generation Marine. My grandpa (no picture) was in WWII and fought in the Pacific Island campaigns, Tarawa being one of the more famous battles. My Dad was in Vietnam (pictured to the right with his brother). My brother was an Aircraft Mechanic and was a Lance Corporal in Fire Crash and Rescue (pictured to the left is my father, brother and myself on my graduation day from bootcamp). I didn’t take a lot of pictures while in and this is one of the more memorable ones.
I was very proud to serve in the United States Marine Corps and to follow in the footsteps of a long line of Marines in my family. My Buddhist beliefs led me to choose a career where I was taking care of human life instead of harming it and at times I really had conflict there. The Marine Corps was tough and taught me a lot about myself and my limits as well as others. You really learn how diverse groups of people can come together and work as a team and produce great results. It made me realize that we are all human and may or may not have the same views but we all must live together on this planet and have a responsibility to make it better. I learned that we are capable of anything and working with such a diverse group in the Marines showed me how, when we come together, we can accomplish anything!
UVA HR Veterans Not Pictured:
- Althea Howell, HR Employee Relations Manager (Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army)
- (Apologies if any veteran from UVA Human Resources was inadvertently not listed)