Thank you for your service to our country. Can you explain the branch of military you were in and what your role was?

  • I was fortunate to have been enlisted in the United States Navy, from 2000 to 2004. I was stationed on the USS Cowpens (CG-63), homeported in Yokosuka Japan, part of the 7th Fleet battle group. During my enlistment as a Storekeeper, I was able to grow in rank from E-1 to E-5, or Petty Officer 2nd class, while also acquiring the Naval Surface Warfare qualification. With that qualification, I was nominated to and joined the ships Visit, Board, Search, and Seizure (VBSS) Team. The VBSS team’s mission was searching container ships in the Maloca Straits, in an effort to intersect Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The primary duty during my entire time onboard the USS Cowpens was as the ship’s Hazardous Material Manager. As such, I served as essential support for all weapons functions including the vertical missile launch system, 5-inch naval artillery mounted guns, the Phalanx CIWS anti-air weapons system, and the onboard helicopter operations. As the HazMat Manager, I was tasked with keeping all necessary mission critical supplies in stock to support the ships tasks. Most notably, the ships direct war-time efforts during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. During both campaigns, USS Cowpens (CG-63) was able to effectively launch 39 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles to clear areas for ground troop incursions. For my efforts during the war, I was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal under combat conditions.


What is your current position with CMI?

  • I am the Health and Safety Services Manager for the City of Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Loss Prevention contract. In this role, I support the City’s Risk Management Division, Safety and Loss Prevention Unit. I oversee a team of fantastic CMI subject matter experts to ensure that the City’s safety, health, environmental and loss prevention services are successfully implemented. The Safety and Loss Prevention Unit has been critical in protecting the city workforce during the on-going COVID-19 Pandemic. The primary mission of the embedded CMI team is to support all city departments to have proactive loss prevention support.


How has transitioning from military to civilian life impacted your safety career?

  • One key lesson I gained during my transition from military to civilian life was the importance of networking. During my enlistment overseas, I had a unique opportunity to work side by side with civilian contractors. Those relationships taught me the value of learning from and connecting with those outside of your immediate chain of command. You never know when one connection can lead to opportunities down the road. It happened to me when I arrived back in the US and started my long EHS career journey. A past civilian contractor had put in a good word for me with a colleague who was searching for an Industrial Hygienist. With that one recommendation, my foot was in the door, and I was on my way. Everyone I meet creates an opportunity to learn. I hold fast to the saying that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.


How has your military experience benefited your career in health and safety?

  • The military experience is so different for every enlisted person. I feel very fortunate for the experience I had, which is largely due to being stationed on a forward deployed ship. Being forward deployed meant that I was constantly out to sea. I was able to visit Russia, all the way down to Australia, and so many countries in-between. Those port calls gave me the ability to appreciate different cultures and customs, as well as grow a deep appreciation for my own United States citizenship. As the Hazardous Material Manager, I was able to interact with environmental standards from various countries and learn how they differ from the US standards. It turns out that I was able to digest and regurgitate detailed EHS regulatory information to share with those who need to comply on a daily basis. This directly impacted my growing ability to conduct training for newly enlisted sailors, as well as seasoned enlisted leadership and commissioned officers.


Written by Joe Perez, Manager, Health and Safety Services


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