Three and a half years ago, we welcomed Tom Zacher, a Navy veteran, to our team. Today, Tom serves as a Senior Cyber Engineer, but he continues to answer the call to serve members of the Armed Forces, just in a slightly different way...
Tom remembers the extreme heat of a Yuma, Arizona summer being one of the factors that motivated him to want to leave his small town and join the service, but the other reason is that he comes from a family of service members.
His father, sister, and one uncle are Marines, his grandfather was in the Army, and he has another uncle who was in the Navy. Continuing in his footsteps, his two daughters have joined the Navy.
The summer of 1998 marked the turning point in Tom's life when he enrolled in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP). Acknowledging that he wasn't quite ready for college, he found this program a guiding light that offered him an alternative career path.
After over twenty years in the service, Tom began the process of transitioning to a civilian role.
“When I transitioned out of the military, there were a lot of soft skills I had no knowledge of,” he continues, “like how to quantify my experience on a resume, or how to negotiate for a higher-paying job. I used to attend job fairs with a three-page resume that I stapled together and printed on a non-white resume paper from Staples.”
At the first job fair he attended after retiring, Tom had a chance encounter with James Shelton, a military relations manager with Lockheed Martin.
“There was a situation where I had been waiting in a long line for about 20-minutes or so, and this was during July, in a basketball gym, with little air conditioning to speak of,” said Tom. “Just then, two ladies who were also eager to talk to James cut ahead of everyone in line. James impressed me right away by calmly asking them to go to the back of the line and wait.”
When Tom finally got to the front he only spoke with James for a few minutes, but the conversation was genuine. James looked over his resume and began circling items that would stand out to a hiring manager.
Within a few days, the two re-connected over the phone and formed a friendship, checking in with one another 3-4 times a month.
“Tom has assisted in the hiring of several candidates joining the company; he tells everyone our story. I am glad I was able to assist in him becoming a part of our team,” said James Shelton, Military Relations Manager for our Rotary & Mission Systems business area.
About six months later Tom received a job offer with Lockheed Martin Space and has been with the company ever since.
“I always tell those who are in the process of transitioning to have a plan, take care of your finances, and plan for at least 3-4 months of no paycheck coming in. Be open-minded on where to go next, and involve your family (if applicable) because where they go next may not be where they want to go next, which could lead to issues down the line,” Tom advises.
Tom remains passionate about giving back to the Military community in any way he can. He is a mentor with the American Corporate Partners (ACP), and has logged over 200-hours on the veteran mentoring platform called Veterati, and is very active in responding to veteran questions on LinkedIn.
In his spare time, he also created a YouTube channel and series called #30vetsin30days, a series that consists of Tom interviewing 30 veterans and discussing their transition.
Tom offers one last piece of advice to consider when hiring someone who is transitioning out of the Military, “take some time to understand a veteran's background and abilities. Military members have a lot to offer,” he continued, “A lot of them just want a chance to come in and prove their self-worth, it takes the hiring manager to learn how to understand the military mindset. Many can handle stress and high-tempo environments, environments they thrived in during their military service.”
Whether you are a veteran, transitioning service member, military spouse, caregiver, or wounded warrior, we understand the unique challenges the military community faces when searching for career opportunities. We recognize the skills, dedication, and experience that the military community brings to the table.
*Our Military relations team is kicking off a new monthly webinar series called “Continuing Your Mission at Lockheed Martin,” on Tuesday, July 25. The webinar will be held each month on the third Wednesday of the month at the same time starting in August. These webinar sessions are also open to military spouses and caregivers.
Learn more about our commitment to the Military Community and register at the links below.