At Amazon, I’ve found the same thrill of adventure and comradery that I experienced in the service. My team and I are about to go into our Middletown fulfillment center’s 6th holiday season, and we could not be more proud or excited about delivering for customers.
The day the U.S. was attacked on 9/11 was the very same day I was scheduled to leave for basic training in the U.S. Army. I will never forget watching the news coverage that day nor will I forget the overwhelming sense of resolve I felt as I boarded a bus the following day, embarking on what would become an eight-year mission that challenged me in ways I could never have anticipated.
I began my service in Army counterintelligence, then became a member of the 82nd Airborne Division and eventually joined the Special Forces as a Green Beret. The men and women I served alongside were incredibly motivated, intelligent teams from diverse backgrounds. No matter where we grew up or what our experiences had been, we all worked together toward a common goal. The bonds we formed with each other and around our mission were incredibly strong and enduring.
Nearly a decade has passed since I left the service. Not a day goes by that I don’t reflect in some way on the years I spent in the military, considering myself fortunate to have been part of such an amazing team and at such a critical time in world history.
At Amazon, I’ve found the same thrill of adventure and comradery that I experienced in the service. My team and I are about to go into our Middletown fulfillment center’s 6th holiday season and we could not be more proud or excited about delivering for customers. As Amazonians, we know the packages we pick, pack and ship across the globe for the next month and a half will likely be a very important part of someone’s holiday experience. This is both humbling and energizing.
I’m also proud of the fact that our building has the highest participation rate in Amazon’s Career Choice program nationwide. The program prepays 95% of tuition for associates to explore continuing education in high-demand, high-paying career paths. I was also an adult learner and finished my degree after my years in the Army. I understand firsthand how important it is to be able to pursue the things you want to do in life. I am grateful both for the opportunity to finish my degree and for Amazon’s support of others who want to pursue their dreams through continuing education, even if it leads them to a career outside of Amazon.
I was a member of the Special Forces unit featured in the film “12 Strong” and spent time deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. Our unit had to be able to function in very ambiguous, complex situations on our own, independent of outside support or reinforcements. In six short months, I learned Arabic which was as much about the language as it was about understanding the culture and how to work seamlessly with indigenous populations.
The same attention to detail I applied in the military, and the experience that taught me to understand, adapt to and address rapidly changing environments and the evolving needs of team members and customers, are qualities I love about my job at Amazon. And the same level of autonomy that I experienced as a Special Forces unit adapting to and solving complex problems in the Middle East is the very independence we have as individuals and teams at Amazon that enables us to build creative solutions on behalf of our company and our customers.
In 2011, Amazon launched an initiative to hire thousands of U.S. veterans and military spouses across the nation. In 2016, we committed to hiring an additional 25,000 veterans and military spouses through the year 2021. I am proud to work for a company that recognizes the skills, knowledge and expertise that veterans bring to Amazon and feel fortunate to work alongside veterans and non-veterans alike, all exceptionally talented, intelligent and motivated people. As I look ahead to the holiday season, I see the excitement across the team and am confident that we are fully ready to deliver customer orders and holiday smiles to millions of people around the globe again this year.
Nate Disbro is general manager of Amazon’s Middletown fulfillment center.