COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Military service can be demanding and dangerous, but leaving that life for some veterans can also prove difficult.
Roughly one in four veterans say returning to civilian life after leaving the military was at least somewhat difficult, according to a new veteran survey from the Pew Research Center.
“Military life is a way of life, it’s not just a job,” Rodney Harshbarger, an army veteran said.
Harshbarger spent eight years in active duty, including a tour in South Korea. But going from serviceman to civilian was not easy, including getting a career he cared about.
“For me, it was about serving people, helping people,” Harshbarger said.
Then last year in Columbus, he found The Waterworks, a plumbing and drain company that was looking for employees just like him.
“In the military, you are trained to react to emergencies and that actually translates here because there is always some type of emergency,” Harshbarger said.
Harshbarger is far from alone: the Waterworks employs 126 people, 13 who are veterans.
“Any opportunity we have to hire a veteran, we will take full advantage of that,” said Tom Kaczkowski, the Vice President of Operations.
While the trade industry might be seeing a drop in qualified applicants right now, Kaczkowski said his team seeks out veterans.
“They bring a level of integrity to the workplace that is unsurpassed,” he added.
The company also offers a year-round military discount for veterans and military families of $35 off any service.
According to Harshbarger, part of the success he’s had in acclimating to civilian life is finding a career to be passionate about.
“It took me a long time to find something, where I felt like I was helping people,” he said.
Harshbarger argues that being in the military already instills great qualities you’ll also find in a great employee like integrity, dedication, and teamwork.
“You can always tell the ex-military guys because they are always ready to do what needs to be done,” Harshbarger added.