DEQ Thanks our Veterans and Active-Duty Military

As we commemorate Veterans Day, we appreciate how the many veterans and active-duty military working at the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality are continuing the call to service in their current jobs. DEQ is proud to have 48 military service members on staff. We honor them for their sacrifices and thank them for always saying “yes” when called upon to support our country and Oregonians.

We asked several of our veterans and active-military folks the following question:
“How do you feel your experience in the military has informed your work at DEQ?”

Their answers are powerful.

Brian Allen – Bend Office (Eastern Region)
DEQ Title: Inspector, Hazardous Waste
Military Rank and Specialty: Chief Aviation Boatswains Mate Fuels (Aviation Warfare), E7
Branch: U.S. Navy
Duration Served: 20 plus years

“The experience I gained from serving in the Navy has taught me to be more resourceful and provided me with the ‘can do attitude’. Anything can be accomplished if you stay on the path.” 

Boris Barrera – Portland (Northwest Region)
DEQ Title: Natural Resource Specialist, Stormwater Program
Military Rank and Specialty: Sergeant, Disbursing/Pay Supervisor
Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
Duration Served: 11 years

“My career with DEQ has been greatly enhanced as a result of my military experience. The Marine Corps taught me principles and traits to live by and how to incorporate them into everyday living. At work, I find ways to improve myself and to become more technically proficient while helping my colleagues.

“The Marine Corps instills three fundamental core values – honor, courage and commitment – to every Marine that ships off to boot camp or officer candidate school. Those three values help me every day and remind me that as a public employee, I represent something greater than myself and want to stay humble while serving in a highly visible public role. As a permit writer and inspector, I serve the people of Oregon and I take that responsibility to heart. Whether that involves a phone call or a site visit for an inspection. I have learned from the Marine Corps to stay honorable with my tasks and to have the courage to make difficult decisions even when I face adversities or difficult situations. I have been fortunate to find a position here at DEQ that has allowed me to use those values while still being able to represent an organization that allows me to continue my service to the public.”

Don Hanson – Eugene Office (Western Region)
DEQ Title: Remedial Action Hydrogeologist
Military Rank and Specialty: E3-Seaman
Branch: U.S. Coast Guard
Duration Served: 4 years

“The thing I learned in the military that has informed my work at DEQ and prior to that is how to work with a diverse group of people. Before entering the military, I really didn’t have much interaction with people of different races and backgrounds. The military was truly a melting pot and more of a level playing field compared with much of our society, especially in the early 1980s.”

Donald Hendrix – Portland (Headquarters)
DEQ Title: Operations & Policy Analyst
Military Rank and Specialty: E-4 Specialist P, 45T Bradley Fighting Vehicle Turret Systems Mechanic (BFV), M901 Improved TOW Vehicle (ITV) and M981 Fire Support Team Vehicle (FISTV).
Branch: U.S. Army
Duration Served: 7 years

“I enjoyed my time in the service working with and learning from such a diverse group of people with different life experiences and prospective.  The organization, attention to detail, uniformity and camaraderie showed how working together you can accomplish objectives.  The experience has had a positive impact on my life to this day, I have lifelong friends and apply many of the standards and perspective to my life and work.”    

Craig Jacobsen – Eugene Office (Western Region)
DEQ Title: Project Manager, Environmental Cleanup
Military Rank and Specialty: E-4 Specialist/Forward Observer (Artillery)
Branch: U.S. Army
Duration Served: 3 years

“In the Army I learned to put the best interest of others ahead of my own.  I learned to be responsible for the success, and failures, of the team. Also, personnel in the military come from a wide array of backgrounds and ethnic diversity.  The beauty of it all is that there was no question each of us were equal and put in a place to grow and overcome adversity together despite our individual shortcomings and differences. My days in the Army were not always pleasant but I look back at my service as great days of growth and personal perspective.”

Eric Kelley – Portland (Headquarters)
DEQ Title: Underground Storage Tank Program Coordinator
Military Rank and Specialty: E-6 Marine Science Technician
Branch: U.S. Coast Guard -Reserve
Duration Served: 15 years (still serving)

“Conducting facility inspections at marine facilities, performing foreign freight vessel exams, and investigations of pollution on waterways for the USCG helped prepare and give be better context for the work that I do at DEQ.  I am proud to serve alongside some of the hardest working and most talented people I have ever met.”

Inez Lawson Portland (Northwest Region)
DEQ Title: Solid Waste Inspector and Compliance Specialist
Military Rank and Specialty: Photographer’s Mate Second Class on board USS Carl Vinson
Branch: U.S. Navy
Duration Served: 7.5 years

“Although I’m working in a different field here at DEQ than I was in the military, I believe being a productive member of a team and being dedicated to the mission are essential to success in any position. That mindset, combined with keen attention to detail and personal drive to improve, have helped me be successful at my various roles here at DEQ.”

Paul Seidel – Portland (Northwest Region)
DEQ Title: Program Manager, Cleanup
Military Rank and Specialty: Commander, Marine Safety and Senior Reserve Officer, Sector Columbia River
Branch: U.S. Coast Guard Reserve
Duration Served: 22 years

“The military has informed my work in two ways. First from a technical perspective, my military reserve experience has been focused on emergency response, using incident command doctrine, commonly referred to as ‘ICS.’ I have used this in two major responses, first for the Deepwater Horizon response in 2010 when I learned to be a Planning Section Chief and more recently for Hurricane Maria where I learned Operations under a state-led Stafford Act response. This expertise directly translates to the emergency response program here at DEQ.

“Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the leadership experience and a persistent focus on mission execution, which is hard to replicate outside of the military. These qualities have been very helpful, particularly in a managerial role. One core concept I strive to live up to is a ‘disciplined initiative,’ which means taking the initiative to do the right thing in alignment with the core organizational values.”  

Chris Van Dyke – Vehicle Inspection Program, Sherwood Station
DEQ Title: Vehicle Inspector
Military Rank and Specialty: Captain, Infantry Platoon Leader
Branch: Army National Guard
Duration Served: 13 years

“My experience in the military showed me the importance of teamwork and that everyone in the unit plays a very important part in the daily operations, no matter what your position is. I learned leadership skills, which help my coworkers and me every day and help in the smooth operation of the station.”

Published by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ’s mission is to be a leader in restoring, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Oregon’s air, land and water.

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