Magic Valley Electric Coop and military service have much in common, according to veterans who work at MVEC. They share a strong sense of mission and brotherhood. Fifteen veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and National Guard currently are part of MVEC. While their stories are different, the elements are the same: persistence, resourcefulness, determination and commitment.
“I learned leadership and patience in the military. What sticks with me today is: don’t have anyone do anything you wouldn’t do or haven’t done yourself,” said Phillip Amaya. The Technical Services Division Manager is responsible for different power delivery environments, long range plans, power quality and responses to outages.
After four years (92-97) in the Army infantry, Phillip earned an electrical engineering degree at Pan Am, thanks in part to an Army scholarship. He joined Magic Valley as a planning engineer in 2002. “I was under the impression that power was boring, but so much is going on in power. Every day is an adventure. In fact, I feel blessed.”
While Phillip’s career has no relation to his military skills, he learned life lessons there which have carried over, and he sees the same in others.
“Veterans here have that drive to do a really good job, to persevere regardless. They want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They have tremendous respect for others,” he said. He believes MVEC’s well-organized structure, discipline, shared community and outstanding leadership make it a welcoming environment for veterans and everyone else.
In true military fashion, Phillip joined the army to see the world, but spent his entire enlistment at Ft. Hood, Texas.
“When we post a job position, we look for veterans,” recruitment coordinator Mireya Acosta said. She attends TWC’s hiring fairs for veterans. “We have had veterans from every branch, but predominantly from the army.” Managers are happy to get veterans because they’ve proven themselves and display eagerness and commitment, she said. MVEC accommodates reservists and their training needs. “Their job is still here when they come back.”
Dustin Kay spent 15 months in Kuwait and Baghdad while in the infantry (2005-09). “My time in the Army helped me learn to train and teach,” said the Lineman Apprentice. Now he trains others on the job. “They want to move up, so I teach them what they need to do and know: materials, procedures and safety requirements. Like in the Army, a lot is going on. Everyone has a specific job, and everyone is looking out for each other. Do your job and, at the same time, be aware of what’s going on around you. That way everyone goes home safely.”
“In a war zone, you must be able to respond quickly and not freeze up,” Dustin explained. At Magic Valley, that capability particularly applies to the pole top rescue training he conducts: how to get individuals down safely and begin CPR. The Dallas native said safety manager Vince Macias has higher expectations of veterans and in complex situations has told him, “I bet you dealt with this in the military.” Dustin said, “I appreciate that trust.”
As a field wireman in the Marine Corps (77-81), Leonardo Garza learned to climb poles. “Climbing poles, you have to be very disciplined. Pole climbing is the make-it or break-it here,” even though bucket trucks are now standard at MVEC.
Garza has been with MVEC since 1983 and is now an inspector in the Engineering Department. He credits the military with instilling discipline and developing his self-confidence as an instructor in the wire field school. “Being an instructor gave me the patience to train new employees and have them freely ask me questions.”
Today, he inspects completed jobs to confirm the work meets specifications and that all equipment meets standards.
Vicente Mendoza was an electrician’s mate third class petty officer in the Navy (94-97). He joined Magic Valley with degrees in information technology and networks. His military training has proved invaluable, although his work now as IT support specialist is with computer networks. “When I hear field reps talking about polarity and other things, I can relate. I’ve done that before.”
The Edinburg-based veteran has retained other Navy ways. “I still bring that attitude to the job today: Seeing a project from start to end and following through. Never leave the job until the job is done.”
Felipe Guzman, now Warehouseman II, served in the Army National Guard (73-78), spending time in Germany. “I took it seriously. Guard service made us mature.” It also taught him persistence. For 30 years, while working at a nearby Roadway Inn, he kept applying to MVEC. “I’d always wanted to work here,” he recalls. And 15 years ago, given his experience in electrical and plumbing repairs, he was hired.
Three Board members are also veterans: Dr. Martin Garcia, Reynaldo Lopez and Rolando Alaniz.
Because we know that freedom is not free, we offer all our veterans our heartfelt thanks.