Nicholas Espe, a service specialist with Siemens Industry in Beltsville, Maryland, and former naval nuclear electrician's mate, attended the launch event of Joining Forces at the White House as a representative of Siemens Corporation. When Espe separated from the Navy just a few months ago, he had no idea he'd be visiting the White House on behalf of his new employer just a few months after beginning his civilian career.
During his six years on active duty in the Navy, Espe was assigned to the USS Enterprise and stationed in Norfolk, Virginia. He also served on two deployments and visited ports, including Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai, Cannes and Lisbon. When it came time to transition out of the Navy, Espe partnered with Orion International, a military recruiting firm that finds civilian careers for transitioning military professionals.
Espe interviewed for several positions within Siemens Corporation through Orion, and he started as a service specialist in late December 2010. "[Siemens] is a company that is rapidly expanding in terms of company growth, new innovations and the opportunities that it presents," Espe said. "My position allows me to learn about HVAC systems and their controls in making everything operate together."
"I am very glad I was invited to attend as a representative of Siemens," Espe said of his participation in the announcement of Joining Forces. While at the White House for the launch, Espe met Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.
Sitting only a few rows back from the podium, he heard the announcement of Joining Forces by President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, as well as Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden.
"It was a very memorable moment that I shall not forget," Espe said. "I'm thankful I was given the opportunity."
Joe Biden explained the goal of Joining Forces.
"I have always said we have lots of obligations as a nation, but only one truly sacred moral obligation: to prepare and protect those we send into harm's way, and to give them every bit of care they, and their families, need when they return," Biden said.
Each of the companies participating in the initiative has pledged its support to veterans. The Siemens Initiative to Support Military Families will reserve 10% of the more than 3,000 open positions in their clean tech industries for veterans. There will also be job training and mentoring available through an internal veterans network, in which Espe hopes to participate.
Additionally, Walmart and Sam's Club's Military Family Promise guarantees a job at a nearby store for all military personnel and spouses. And Sears' "PCS Promise" will provide transfers in the cases of a permanent change of station (PCS), retirement or separation, depending on job availability and performance, for all military personnel and spouses employed at Sears Holdings.
In the area of education, Joining Forces aims to support the academic achievement of military children by helping schools become more responsive to their unique needs and to promote higher education institutions and programs that expand education opportunities, ease transferability for military-connected students and expand job training opportunities for military spouses and veterans.
Under the banner of wellness, Joining Forces aims to call attention to the issues facing veterans and military families and expand access to wellness programs and resources for military spouses and families.
Orion International is the nation's largest military placement firm, founded in 1991 by five former military officers.
Want to Know More About the Military?
Be sure to get the latest news about the U.S. military, as well as critical info about how to join and all the benefits of service. Subscribe to Military.com and receive customized updates delivered straight to your inbox.