WIA Salutes Veterans Working in the Wireless Infrastructure Industry

Service in the military builds a variety of skills that translate well into careers in the telecom industry – communication, problem-solving, teamwork and perseverance, to name a few. Likewise, the wireless industry offers meaningful jobs that are a good fit for veterans, from climbing towers to designing networks and leading projects, teams and companies.

The wireless infrastructure industry’s workforce is expected to expand substantially over the next few years to rapidly build and expand wireless networks across the country as 5G takes hold. It’s estimated that 5G will create 4.6 million jobs. As such, WIA’s Telecommunications Industry Registered Apprenticeship Program (TIRAP) offers the opportunity for earn-while-you-learn experience plus an industry-recognized credential. TIRAP provides the training and education needed for the skills that are in demand for telecommunications. Veterans make up a key group that is expected to participate and thrive in apprenticeship programs like TIRAP and to fill out the wireless workforce.

With observations of both Veterans Day and National Apprenticeship Week this week, we recognize that a large number of veterans benefit from apprenticeship programs, which help prepare them to transition out of the military and into civilian careers like the telecommunications industry.

As the nation recognizes the contributions and sacrifices of all veterans throughout history and today, WIA salutes all of the veterans working hard to keep our communities connected and is proud to support them. We asked veterans at WIA member companies why they think the wireless infrastructure industry is a great career choice for veterans. Read their thoughts below.

Steve Smith

Chief Executive Officer, Zayo Group
Military Service: Captain, United States Army

“The industry is a great career choice for veterans because of its fast-paced environment and demand for technical expertise, two attributes that aligned well with my service experience. Additionally, working collaboratively across teams with diverse functional expertise is a well-honed skill in the military and translates well to civilian service, especially as one grows into leadership roles.”

Tim May

Senior Project Manager, Fullerton Engineering
Military Service: Specialist 5, U.S. Army, based in Germany and Viet Nam. Responsibilities included overall operation of various long- and short-haul microwave routes in Europe, including some tower work. Deployment of mobile microwave sites in Europe and Asia. Operational management of large-scale Tropospheric site in Central Highlands of Viet Nam.

“The wireless industry provides an ever-changing landscape in which individuals are both free and challenged to learn, grow and be on the cutting edge of the telecommunication umbrella.  Military training provides technical expertise and the ability to mold that expertise with the individual.  The wireless industry expects the individual to adapt and change direction at a moment’s notice; something most veterans have both learned and dealt with on a regular basis.”

Paul Ives

Director of Gas Distribution and Underground Construction, Henkels & McCoy Inc.
Military Service: Captain, U.S. Army, 1987-1992

“For any veteran, regardless of specialty, working with and leading people is a key skill for success. In the fast-paced, constantly changing world of wireless infrastructure, the ability to lead and execute in a tumultuous environment is critical. Any veteran reading this knows that their experience in a military service environment provided the opportunity to do exactly that. So, working in wireless is a natural transition at all levels of the industry. I’m convinced that the wireless infrastructure industry would realize enormous profit from hiring and training veterans.  The ability to operate under constantly changing conditions makes a veteran of any stripe a capital addition to the team.”

Fernando Valdivia

IT Supervisor, Boingo Wireless
Military Service: E-4 Specialist, Multichannel Transmission Systems Technician, U.S. Army

“Boingo is the largest provider of Wi-Fi and IPTV broadband services for the barracks and dorms on U.S. Army, Air Force and Marines bases around the world. As a veteran, it’s rewarding to work for a company that provides services to the military and innovates solutions that keep our troops connected. As part of our work on military bases, we engage with base staffing agencies to help soldiers and Marines transition to civilian work. Many of them know Boingo for the Wi-Fi we deliver and are excited to hear about career opportunities.”

Joel Jernigan

Learning Alliance Training Alumni
Military Service: Lance Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps

“The wireless industry is great for veterans because you don’t have to sit in class for years and hour on end. It’s a hands on job that’s exciting and in very high demand. They will train you quickly and get you out to work. The training course that I took was called Learning Alliance. They are very much about practical application of the trade rather than sitting in class all day, which is great because veterans belong on their feet, not sitting on their butts. The best part about the course is having to do the ‘confidence climb.’ That will determine whether or not you like climbing towers.”

Nathan Unseth

Tower Foreman, Premise Inc.
Military Service: Technical Sergeant, 210th Engineering Installation Squadron, Minnesota Air National Guard

“The tower industry is constantly changing, and the need to adapt daily to fluid situations is critical. My experience in the military has conditioned me to thrive in this sort of environment. The self-discipline instilled within me from the military has cultivated a high level of trust with my superiors and subordinates in an independent, field environment.”

Stephen Cullen

VP of Operations, Aero Wireless Group
Military Service: Colonel, U.S. Air Force

“The wireless infrastructure industry is a great opportunity for military veterans transitioning to civilian careers because it provides opportunity to apply what was learned in the military in another leading-edge technology sector.”

Hunter Barnes

Tower Technician I – Apprentice, Tilson Technology Management
Military Service: U.S. Army, three years

“This job isn’t made for everyone, and most will find out quickly if it is or isn’t the right fit. I like challenges in life. The biggest challenge in the field starts with putting your harness on and preparing yourself to climb a tower that is a hundred plus feet in the air. Once you’re about 30 feet off the ground, reality will hit you hard. Tilson has provided me the tools and resources to prepare me for success in this field, and I’m very happy to be a part of the team.”

Jordan Marinovich

Account Executive, Zayo Group
Military Service:
Senior Airman (E-4), Air Force

“The industry is a great career choice for veterans because of the translatable skills. Many careers in the Armed Forces require a high level of technical proficiency, whether it be mechanical, electrical, or software-related. Additionally, leadership, integrity, high work ethic, and many other desirable traits are cultivated while serving. Veterans can easily transition their skills and experience into the wireless infrastructure industry and instantly create value for not only their company but for their customers as well. Participating in something greater than ourselves is why many veterans chose to serve. Seeing as the wireless infrastructure industry is a critical part of the stability and prosperity of our society, working toward this greater good allows veterans to continue to fulfill that commitment.”

Dustin Burkett

Learning Alliance Training Alumni
Military Service: Sergeant, U.S. Army

“The wireless infrastructure industry is a great choice for veterans because vets know how to communicate and communication is very important in this industry to be able to work safely. Also, veterans are able to adapt to different environments whether you’re hanging from a tower or on the ground building structures. The training I completed was with LAC. They prepared me to be able to go out in the field and be confident in what I am doing when I am up there on the tower to be able to safely do my job.”

Bryant Pennington

Tower Foreman, Premise Inc.
Military Service: 25s Satellite Communications Operator/Maintainer E-4, U.S. Army

“The wireless industry has provided me the same camaraderie with my team that I loved in the service. Also, I’ve been able to continue the travel aspect that I enjoyed so much while in the service.”

Jake I. DeHerrera

Power Generations Equipment Repairer, 52D10, Aero Wireless Group/Aero Solutions
Military Service: U.S. Army, E-5, 1 yr. in South Korea (Camp Hovey), 1.5 yrs. in Colorado (Ft. Carson), 3 yrs. Wurzburg, Germany (123rd Signal Battalion). Generator Mechanic / Driver. Maintained fleet of generators to supply power for equipment during field exercises. Driver for B Company (XO=1st Lieutenant)

“In the military, people come from all walks of life. We worked together to reach the same goals. In the telecom industry, with its constantly changing environment, we also work together as a team to meet certain goals or objectives.  Teamwork helps to make it all possible. Many veterans are used to working in a team atmosphere so joining a company in the private sector that has similar work ethic(s) makes for a smoother transition into a civilian career.”

David Quintana

Media Specialist, Learning Alliance Corp.
Military Service: Corporal (E-4), U.S. Marine Corps

“The wireless industry is booming and it’s only going to continue to grow, and the need for skilled workers with it. Veterans who are looking for exciting work and solid pay would excel in this industry. Learning Alliance Corporation provides an excellent jumping board into this industry by providing training and certifications that make their graduates viable candidates for recruitment from some of the biggest companies in the industry. As a camera man/media specialist for Learning Alliance, I had to undergo the same training as the students in order to climb the towers and take the pictures of the awesome vistas I have the pleasure of capturing.”

Anna Terry

Project Manager, Zayo Group
Military Service: Specialist (E-4), U.S. Army

“The industry is a great career choice for veterans due to its fast pace. It’s never boring, you learn something new everyday and it’s team-based, so you get to work with a team of people to make things happen. One of the first lessons when joining the military was just how important teamwork is. Most of the training I have received has been on-the-job training. My training taught me to speak the basic language of telecom and the flow of getting telecommunications circuits built.  Again, I learn something new everyday.”

Wesley Richards

Learning Alliance Training Alumni
Military Service: E-4 Specialist, U.S. Army

“The wireless infrastructure industry is a growing industry and there is a great sense of job security. Also, the prospect of working with other veterans is enjoyable. I completed an apprenticeship program through LAC and the support to help veterans is outstanding for the job industry. It gives vets the opportunity to work with other vets and help them find a career where they can thrive and grow and learn new skills.”

Jeffrey Flynn

Inventory Specialist, Aero Wireless Group/Comptek Technologies
Military Service: E-4, U.S. Marine Corps, Marine Air Ground Task Force Planner. 1 year training between Infantry then MAGTF Planner MOS; 2 years in Okinawa, Japan, working multimillion dollar international exercises and operations classified and non-classified. Responsible for high-level mission success through planning system and operational control; 1 year in San Diego, California, fulfilling the same role as MAGTF Planner for international and domestic exercises and operations.

“My time in the Marines was a challenging one that did not lead me in the direction I originally thought it would. The experiences I underwent have provided me with a skillset that has allowed me to thrive under pressure and accomplish a mission no matter the obstacles with the tools at hand. This industry is a growing field with lots of opportunity. This is great for veterans because with the varied backgrounds and experiences we have, we will be able to fill multiple roles. Veterans’ ability to adapt and learn new skills in unfamiliar environments means that we can find a niche and succeed where others may struggle.”

Fred Arnold

Director of Operations, Learning Alliance Corporation
Military Service: E3 – ETNAV, U.S. Navy

“The wireless industry is a great choice of employment for veterans because it requires strength and determination. Serving the military provides a purpose, and veterans live everyday helping those who are not themselves. At one point, they fought for the freedom of each and every person in the United States. To me, the wireless industry is a different type of front line. Building communications helps our nation and our people grow. Communications connects a mom to her daughter, a father to a son. It connects an overseas veteran to their wife or husband. A veteran who transitioned served their country once, and a job in wireless means they can continue to serve our country – albeit in a different capacity.”

Matt Shearman

Learning Alliance Training Graduate
Military Service: E-4, U.S. Army

“The wireless infrastructure industry is a great choice because it is not a normal 9-5 office job. You’re going to work odd hours and outside in the elements. I suppose there’s also a bit of excitement from doing a ‘dangerous’ job too. Also there’s the traveling. I feel like those things are similar to military life. While the training (Learning Alliance program) doesn’t teach you everything you need to know (not enough time for it all), it gives you a great headstart, an idea of the career you are getting into, and all the certifications you need to be successful. I feel like you’re going to walk away knowing if the job is for you or not. Better than getting a job, doing it, and finding out you don’t like it afterwards.”

John Jung

Inventory Control Specialist, Aero Wireless Group/Comptek Technologies
Military Service: Lieutenant Commander (O-4), Supply Corps, U.S. Navy, Retired; Auxiliary Mechanical Technician – USS Meyerkord (DE-1058), USS Ethan Allen (SSN-608 Blue), USS Skate (SSN-578), Supply Officer – USS Sand Lance (SSN-660), Contracts Specialist – Naval Sea Systems Command, Division Head, Supply Customer Service, Stores Division & Supply QA – USS McKee (AS41), Logistics Department Head – Naval Oceanographic Office.

“My military service has taught me the value of hard work, flexibility, perseverance, teamwork, preparedness, discipline, attention to detail & excellence. My various military assignments and experiences on the engineering, logistics and business management side have helped me to quickly grasp production concepts, easily identify quality issues before our product goes down the production line and helps me maintain the big picture of how every little thing we do or don’t do affects the customer. My military experience gave me the ability to react quickly to the rapidly changing competitive environment and anticipate possible problems to prepare for/avoid. At this stage of the country’s 5G rollout where companies are investing heavily, the wireless infrastructure field appears to be recession resistant.  Military veterans have been taught to anticipate changes on the battlefield which will help with the rapid changes the wireless infrastructure industry is undergoing due to technology changes and changes in customer tastes.”

Erik Thomson

Senior Vice President, EMEA Sales, Zayo Group
Military Service: Captain, United States Marine Corps

“The industry is a great choice for veterans because it’s a great mix of complex problem solving, team approach to solutions, and lots of opportunities to ‘get your hands dirty’ on real projects. The industry has a great depth of technical expertise but still needs proven leaders to guide the industry through to the future.”

Joshua Sharp

Wind Turbine Technician/Learning Alliance Training Graduate
Military Service:  E-5 Army 11B Infantry and B4 Sniper

“To join the industry when you get out of the military is the way to go by far. Believe me I know how it feels to be in the military with structure and people that train you and have a sense of purpose. And leaving, you feel lost and looking for that structure and a company that cares. At Learning Alliance Corporation, the pre-apprenticeship that they have teaches you the skills, the drive. If you want somewhere you belong, you found it. They will teach you, give you that sense of purpose and it’s not a question of can I do it? Because you can. It’s the willingness to say I want to take pride of being a veteran, use the skills from the military, and call them because I promise you LAC changed my life and this industry prepares you for the next steps.”

Dale Caswell

Assembler, CityPole/Aero Wireless Group
Military Service: E-4, US Air Force, Computer Operator, Omaha, Nebraska

“My time in the military taught me organization and attention to detail that have helped me in my career in the wireless industry. The wireless infrastructure industry is a great career path for veterans because it is a stable industry with excellent growth potential.”

Wendy Torres

Data Center Tech, Zayo Group
Military Service: 
A1C, Idaho Air National Guard

“The wireless/broadband communication field is a good choice for military veterans because it makes direct use of the leadership and self-management skills the military ingrains in all of its troops. Additionally, those coming from a military communication background will find their skills directly transferable to this field. ”

Michael Anthony Barahona 

Learning Alliance Training Alumni
Military Service: E-4 specialist, U.S. Army

“Military members excel in the telecommunications industry because their attention to detail, ability to adapt and great problem resolution skills are critical in both completion of a job site and the safety of themselves and their coworkers and also plays into the see-something-say-something aspect of this career field.”

Jim McGuirk

Director, Zayo Group
Military Service:
Sergeant, U.S. Army

“The industry is a great choice for veterans because, similar to service, implementing a solution in the infrastructure industry requires numerous groups working together towards a common goal, very much like you would in the military. The ability to work among cross-functional teams from sales, product, engineering, delivery, and post-sales to have a large impact on how the world communicates and operates.”

Derrick Francis

Director of training, Learning Alliance
Military Service: E-6 (staff sergeant) Army, infantryman.

“I believe a career in the wireless infrastructure industry is a perfect fit for a veteran. It takes teamwork and planning to accomplish the mission, all while focusing on keeping each other safe and having each other’s back. It is a very detail-oriented field where you are held accountable for your actions. This in my opinion makes it a perfect fit for veterans.”

Nicholas Goelz

Junior Instructor at Learning Alliance.
Military Service: Petty officer second class, U.S. Navy

“The wireless industry is great for veterans because it draws on many of the skills that veterans already have instilled in them such as attention to detail, timeliness, and commitment. It provides stability and has an atmosphere that allows veterans to rapidly move up through the roles and take on more leadership. I attended Learning Alliances program and it taught me the skills I needed to safely and efficiently climb and work on telecommunication towers.”


See last year’s Veteran’s Day Tribute: