As part of our #SALUTEaVET series, this month we’re saluting Army veteran Tim Chatlos, who transitioned into civilian life last year thanks to the support of his family, a mentor and the skills he gained during his military career. Tim is a Public Affairs manager at our Naheola mill in Pennington, Alabama.
What were your roles in the military and how long did you serve?
I served 9 years and 5 months in the U.S. Army. All the positions I held in the Army were in the Public Affairs field. I began as a Broadcast Journalist at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks, Alaska, and finished my career as the Chief Public Affairs Non Commissioned Officer for Network Enterprise Technology Command at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
What was one thing you learned in the military that transferred to your job at GP?
People are always a little surprised when I tell them how seamless my transition was to the work culture at Georgia-Pacific. In the Army we learned to live by the seven Army values, which guide our conduct and decisions. Those values hold us to a higher standard and allow us to collectively be part of something greater than ourselves. At Georgia-Pacific, employees live and work based on 10 Guiding Principles, which allow us to create a company that is greater than any of its one parts. They don’t just live on a poster on a wall. Principles like integrity, humility, respect and fulfillment, among others, are practiced with intention in all that we do.
What was the proudest moment in your service?
My proudest moment came at the end of a long deployment. When I first deployed my son was only four years old and my daughter was only four days old. I left for 15 months but their lives went on. I missed the first day of school, first words, and first steps. I missed a first birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. There were so many things that I was missing and to be at war made all these things seem that much more precious. I struggled, questioning whether it was all worth it and even what I was doing it for. Once my family met our plane when we returned and I held my baby girl and son in my arms, I knew exactly why I had done it and in that moment I was so proud to be part of what protects America.
What advice would you give to others in the military about seeking a civilian job?Like many service members transitioning out of the military, you are hit with a sense of urgency as your end of service date grows closer. Reach out to veterans in your job field for advice and go through transitioning classes as early as possible. Lean on people who have successfully transitioned into civilian life because, no matter how prepared you think you may be, you always have room to improve. The best thing I ever did was to find a civilian mentor in the job field I was interested in. She helped me translate my military jobs and experience into a resume that civilian companies would understand. She also would do mock interviews with me to help me recognize places in my speech where I was using military terminology.