April 2017 Veteran of the Month: Marine Corps Combat Veteran
Meet Danny Willis – our April Veteran of the Month!
Danny is the Network Manager in our IT Department at the Retail Support Center in Duluth, Georgia. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, he has been part of the National Vision family since March, 2016.
Danny is also a combat veteran and recipient of the Kosovo Campaign Metal and Combat Action Badge. He served in the United States Marine Corps from 1998 – 2006.
We recently sat down with Danny to learn more about his time in the Marine Corps and how it has helped him with his civilian career.
Why did you decide to enlist in the Marine Corp?
“I wanted to be a Marine since I was 6 years old. In June 1997, when I was just 16 years old, I signed up for the delayed entry program. At the time, I did not want to go to college, but I did want the best challenge possible and that’s why I chose the Marines. My first day as a Marine was on July 7, 1998, and I was 17 years old.”
What did you do during your time in the military?
“My Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was a Wireman (telecommunications). During my first enlistment I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines Headquarters Company Communications Platoon.
I deployed in 1999 on the 26th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit). During this deployment, I was able to see places like Greece, Spain, Macedonia, Kosovo, Turkey and Italy.
My second deployment unit went to Okinawa, Japan, and I was able to visit Mount Fuji on the main land for cold weather training. I was also able to experience Camp Zama, Roppongi (in Tokyo, Japan) and other places over the countryside of the great country of Japan.
During my second enlistment, I was the Training Chief for Training and Education Command, an Enlisted Instructor for Command and Control System School (Marine Corps University), the Base Telephone Administrator, and the G-6 Help Desk Implementer and Lead. I was honorably discharged, due to having to have surgery on both feet and the threat of having major health issues if I resumed my duties as a full duty Marine. My time was up in July 2006.”
Tell us about your experiences since leaving the military?
“Since 2006 when I left the Marine Corps, I have worked a steady job that required me to participate in different technical roles like Project Management and Lead Integration, mostly project lead positions. I went back to school and received my Bachelor’s Degree from Devry University in Network Communications Management.
I also enjoy mentoring teenagers and young adults, spending time with my family and friends and I’m an expecting father…baby due next month!”
Why do you enjoy working for National Vision?
“I really love working for NVI because of the amount of philanthropy that the company participates in. NVI also has wonderful individuals. It’s the people that make NVI great.”
As a combat veteran, how has your military experience helped you in your career?
“My military experience has allowed me to stick to something until completion or ‘follow through’ as some people call it. It also taught me to always be aware of my surroundings because regardless of where you are someone is always watching, so even when you think no one is watching you need to do the right thing. Some people may think these values are cheesy but they are solid and they work. It’s all about having good character no matter what… that’s what’s important.”
Last year we made a commitment to hire a minimum of 500 veterans and/or veteran spouses over the next five years across all of our retail brands. Within those 500 positions, we have committed to hiring a minimum of 100 military veterans and/or veteran spouses in technology-focused positions as part of the Joining Forces initiative. We are proud to announce that we now have 363 self-identified veterans as part of our NVI family.
Thank you Danny for your service to our country. We are so honored to have you as part of our team!