Vets Get the Job Done Right the First Time

Richard Murphy retired from the Navy in 1998 after a diverse 22-year career as a Hull Maintenance Technician First Class (E-6). Among his duties, he served as a welder, a pipe fitter, and even as a dog handler while on shore duty. He gained experience in heavy equipment operation and served as a quality assurance supervisor on submarines. “I liked the variety of things to do. No day was ever boring,” he said. He also worked with explosive ordnance devices (EOD) and was deployed to Italy and to Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm. Murphy spent his last year of service months in Norfolk, Virginia as a senior enlisted advisor in charge of a shipyard.

##**From Veteran to Civilian: Finding a New Career**##

After retiring in 1998, Murphy relocated to South Carolina and began what would be an 18-year career in law enforcement. He served at a county detention center and later as a sheriff’s deputy in Orangeburg County, South Carolina, and as a campus police officer at South Carolina State University. “I loved working in law enforcement,” he said. “You might help 100 people, but if one person says thank you, that makes it all worthwhile.”

But years in law enforcement took their toll, and after his partner was killed in the line of duty, Murphy decided to seek yet another career path. He completed a candidate profile on the RecruitMilitary website and attended a RecruitMilitary Career Fair in Columbia, South Carolina in September of 2016. There, he connected with the Mears Group, a full-service engineering and construction firm, offering services to the oil, power, and water industries. He entered the company’s six-week apprentice foreman program in October to learn new welding processes and train to eventually run his own crew.

##**Best Takeaways**##

Murphy said getting superior training was one of his best takeaways from the Navy. “I’m not an office person,” he said. He learned to weld while spending time in an engine room on an aircraft carrier. From there, he attended welding school and learned about steam systems. “People took the time to teach me. That made me feel pretty good. They cared about the quality of the workmanship.”
He recalled the strong camaraderie he experienced working in Navy repair shops. “We had softball games and had fun together. It didn’t matter what your background was. We all learned to work together,” he said. “I loved working with all types of people. We were taught how to get the best out of everyone and how to motivate others.”


Strong mentors helped shape his career as well. Murphy appreciated one of his commanding officers who taught him about leadership. “He’d get outside and do things in the yard and help us. I like to say that he led from the front, not from the rear. By showing us that he wasn’t afraid to get dirty, he set such a good example for us, so we had more respect for him and we listened to him,” he recalled. A warrant officer and ship’s boatswain also took an interest in Murphy. “He was an old salt from the old school. He took an interest in me and served as a good resource and sounding board.”

##**Transferrable Military Skills**##

Murphy found the skills he learned in the Navy to be highly transferrable. “Early on, I was a machinist mate. I didn’t realize that some of the old stuff I had learned was still useful today, such as in power plants,” he said. He encouraged transitioning veterans to look at their experience and see what crosses over into the civilian world. “A lot of it is the same,” he said. “For example, if you worked in quality assurance and quality control, you can easily transfer that experience.”
“And get as much education as you can,” he encouraged. Murphy earned a certificate of applied science in marine welding from Florida Junior College in the 1980’s that helped enhance his welding career. “I learned to make parts for machines and perform base metal repair work. There’s always a new skill you can learn,” he said.

Murphy credits the Navy with helping him become better organized. “I learned how to organize and care for my tools, and how to plan ahead for each job. It made me accountable. For every job I performed, I had to plan for what tools I’d need, how to perform the job, and whether any parts had to be ordered ahead so that no time was wasted,” he said. “Now my wife says I’m obsessive-compulsive about my tools,” he joked.

##**Employers, Take Note**##

Employers should recognize the superior performance levels that hired vets bring to the workplace. “The Navy set high standards and demanded a solid work ethic,” Murphy said. “If I were an employer, I wouldn’t want to hire someone that I have to follow behind and correct all the time. “Veterans have learned to do it right the first time and to insist on excellent quality of work performed.”