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The Washington Gas Veteran Vanguard

The Washington Gas Veteran Vanguard

Nov. 9, 2024

As we observe Veterans Day, Washington Gas is honored to include within our ranks selfless veterans who have served with courage and dedication. It is our pleasure to highlight the following five service members and share their inspiring stories and perspectives.


Ariel Von Quintus

Ariel Von Quintus, Construction Project Supervisor
"Everyone has good ideas that make projects stronger."

 

For Veterans Day, I enjoy going to Washington, D.C., and walking around the museums and monuments to appreciate and reflect on the history of the United States. It t is the best place to feel and think about all the events and people that have come before and remember what veterans sacrificed for this country.
 
The best thing I learned from the military was the joy of being part of a good team. With the right people, even the most challenging job can be fun and successful. As a leader, it's my responsibility to focus and really listen to what my team members have to contribute. Everyone has good ideas that make projects stronger.
 
During my time in the military, I enjoyed traveling to South America, the Middle East and many places in the United States, particularly Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Seeing different people and places worldwide and how people live outside the U.S. was an enlightening experience. 
 
My time in service also taught me some effective overall life strategies. When making decisions as part of stressful work situations, I've always found it helpful to step back and think before deciding a final answer or solution. Sometimes, those extra moments to think before you speak can make a huge difference. A little spare time spent on a good plan saves a lot of wasted time later.

 

Outside of work, walking and running in nature are good stress relievers to keep healthy. I enjoy them both!


Dalton Morgan

Dalton Morgan, Gate Station Technician
"Mental health is the silent battle many veterans fight every day."

 

Like many Americans, I commemorate Veterans Day by spending quality time with my family. I take time to reflect on my service and how it shaped me. If I am out and about, I go out of my way to tell a veteran, "Thank you," especially Vietnam Veterans, because they were not celebrated then as we are now. So, if you see a veteran with a Vietnam campaign ball cap on, walk up to them and welcome them home. 

 

My military background was 25B (Information Technology Specialist). My first two years were spent in a Help Desk position, assisting soldiers and civilians with any hardware, software, or network issues they may have been having. After the Help Desk role, I was reassigned as an information systems technician in a specialized shop. I was responsible for all mobile wireless operations for most of Fort Carson in Colorado. I made the rank of Sergeant and had a group of up to 10 soldiers under my watch at any given time before exiting the Army in September 2021.

 

Compared to the tempo of the civilian world, the military is drastically different. The Army expects tasks to be done yesterday, whereas civilian careers can have more lenient time constraints. Speaking to supervisors and managers was challenging because the military was particular about the chain of command. For a long time, I felt the need to go through the proper channels to go to my supervisor. What helped most was finding other veterans at WGL who helped me reacclimate to my new environment. 

 

I also have some other echoes from my service time. For example, walking on grass can still trigger an anxiety attack. 

 

Being there for our veterans is crucial, and many great organizations support veterans and their families. My favorite program is Give an Hour, which is available to everyone but has specific resources for veterans. Veterans can sign up for a free hour of therapy with licensed psychiatrists. Mental health is the silent battle many veterans fight every day, especially after their service, and I donate to this program as much as I can. The Veteran's Administration does offer behavioral health, but it is only sometimes readily available due to lengthy wait times. 

 

The best thing we can do is to sincerely thank veterans and ask them about their service. Most of us will happily tell you about our time in the military, and we have some stories you won't believe! 


Jonathan DaviesJonathan Davies, Service Assistant
"My military experiences have made a lasting impact on my life."

 

To commemorate Veterans Day, I will attend the Armed Forces Women's Basketball Championship to cheer on the Marine Women's Basketball Team. I served with Captain Allen, who plays center for the team. 
 
Veterans Day is a day to honor the contributions and sacrifice of people who have served in the armed forces. It is a day I like to show my appreciation and gratitude for those who continue to embody the Marine Corps ethos of honor, courage, and commitment. One of my favorite Veterans Day activities is spending time with my grandmothers, one of whom served in the Navy after immigrating to the United States from Sierra Leone. My other grandmother was married to one of my favorite Vietnam Veterans: my grandfather, Thomas Gillespie, who was why I joined the Marine Corps. He passed away in January 2021 while I was serving on active duty. He was my biggest inspiration, and his lessons of selflessness, dedication and courage still impact me today.
 
I served in the Marine Corps Reserves as a 3521 Automotive Mechanic at WGL. In 2018, I went on active duty to attend Officer Candidate School. I was a Platoon Commander for the 2nd Landing Support Battalion Communications Platoon after graduation. I later served as the Assistant Operations Officer for 2nd Marine Logistics Group G-6. 
 
Although I took a pay cut to leave WGL that year, I am grateful for the experience. The lessons I learned while becoming an officer in the Marine Corps were invaluable. Thankfully, I had a great support system in my family and throughout WGL to pursue this dream. I would not be the man I am today without pursuing my military goals. I know without a doubt that it has made me a better employee.
 
Some of my military experiences have made a lasting impact on my life. For example, while on active duty, I had the honor of working with a seasoned Master Gunnery Sergeant who had served in the Marine Corps for 27 years. Not only was he deeply knowledgeable, but his discipline was unmatched. Battle-hardened Vietnam-era Marines mentored him. Even at his age, he made it a point always to run further and faster than me. He always wanted to show me that he still had it! No matter my rank or age, he made sure I knew I couldn't outwork him. I learned significant lessons from his most minor details. 
 
With the same respect, I've learned a lot from the nuances of the people in my current department. From Eugene Courtney, an Army veteran, I learned the discipline of getting to work early and mastering my craft. From Markos Gebru and Ricky Banks, I learned not to be afraid to take on big projects and opportunities. I learned from David Johnson and Ryan Benedicto to be positive and put my best foot forward. I am honored to have learned something from each WGL Springfield Rough-In Department member.


Paul Zohorsky

Paul Zohorsky, Vice President of Operations
"Bring your military dedication, training and skills to the corporate world, and you will be successful."

 

On Veteran's Day, I reflect on the lives lost to defend our country and on the people who have served in the military. I think about my father and father-in-law, who served during the Korean War and my son, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq—all in the Navy. Many people sacrificed more than I did, and I sincerely appreciate their service. 
 
Ownership is one of the key principles I learned in the Navy. The captain of a ship is responsible at all times for the performance of his ship. The captain owns everything that happens, good and bad. When a ship runs aground or has a collision, the captain is responsible even if they are in the bunk because the training and qualification program they are responsible for should ensure only qualified personnel stand watch.

 

This same leadership concept applies in business. Leaders have to own all outcomes from the decisions they made—or should have made. It's my goal to demonstrate ownership in my life.
 
It can be a hard transition from military life to civilian life. Working long hours in a deployed status away from your family builds a sense of team you don't always get in civilian life. However, the skills you learn in the military are lifelong skills that can assist you in a civilian job. Bring your military dedication, training and skills to the corporate world, and you will be successful.
 
After attending the Naval Academy, Nuclear Power School, nuclear prototype training and Submarine School, I thought I had mastered basic leadership skills. When I got to my first boat, a seasoned Lieutenant and fellow Naval Academy graduate took me aside and asked me what I thought was my primary responsibility as a leader. I gave him an academic-type answer that would have been great on a written test—and he essentially responded that I was an idiot. He said my primary responsibility was to the people who worked for me and to ensure they were paid correctly.

 

I have never forgotten that. Leadership is not academic; it's about real people.


Rick Tackaberry

Rick Tackaberry, Security Manager
"Leaders eat last."

 

I look forward to the Veterans of WGL (VOW) Veterans Day breakfast each year. It's a time of fellowship and poignant reflection with other veterans. It's hard to describe the vibe when you put a bunch of vets in the same room because we have so much in common. We all left our homes and loved ones and put ourselves to the test mentally and physically in boot camp. Then, we were assigned to our first units far from home as the newest persons on our teams. We each pushed through our trepidations and challenged our comfort levels. As individuals, we became part of an essential organization where, to quote Aristotle, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." 

 

Memories of personal growth, camaraderie and the esprit de corps among vets surround the VOW breakfasts. The pride and mutual respect we have for each other is palpable. Although it's not Memorial Day, I especially appreciate the poignant table set aside for fallen comrades who did not come home with us. It means a lot to share this memorial with other veterans.

 

My first military lesson arrived when I was ten and attending a church potluck dinner. I noticed my dad and four other men who had also served in the military kept finding their way to the back of the food line. While they didn't seem to mind eating last, I barely survived smelling the food during the lengthy church service. When my dad stopped me from getting seconds, I was stuck with these men who apparently didn't need to eat. They even waited for people still outside the room to make sure everyone was served before them!

 

I was impatient. Wasn't the mission to get as much food as possible? I had two older brothers, and my philosophy was, "You snooze, you lose." I pestered my dad: "What if we run out of the good stuff?" He said, "That's exactly why we're in the back of the line. In case there isn't enough food." 

 

This sounded like an awful strategy to my ten-year-old lizard brain, but he went on. "It's a military thing, Rick. Leaders eat last." All four of them were acting as gentlemen and retired military officers. At that pivotal learning moment, I realized that military men live by a code of honor. I started to pay more attention to role models like those four heroes. 

 

Years later, while serving as a platoon leader in Afghanistan, I was responsible for 29 Americans and about 40 Afghans. After I had made sure everyone had enough chow before grabbing my own MRE, I would sometimes remember those potluck church suppers.

 

And smile.


 

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