NEWS | July 27, 2021

Depot recognizes contributions of Veteran workforce

By Ms. Mary K. Nolan and Ms. Danielle E. Weinschenk

Depot recognizes contributions of Veteran workforce | Article | The United States Army

Tobyhanna Army Depot observed National Hire A Veteran Day on July 25 by highlighting Veterans across the workforce.

The observance, created in 2017, serves as a call to action for employers to augment their workforce with veterans, who bring a unique blend of skills and practical experience to the workplace. Nearly a quarter of the depot’s workforce has prior military experience.

Air Force veteran Gretchen Bentler serves as the depot’s Employment Readiness and Financial Readiness program manager. In her role, she provides guidance to active duty, retired and reserve/guard Soldiers, and other service members on finding employment and maintaining good financial health. She says she understands all too well how hard it is to adjust to civilian life.

“After serving for 10 years, I had a hard time ‘finding myself’ and feeling like I was making a valuable contribution to society.”

While attending Johnson College and studying electronics technology, she joined Team Tobyhanna as a materials handler in the Production Management directorate. While the position served many of her career goals, something was missing. After a year at the depot, Gretchen transferred to the Veterans Administration.

“My passion was always helping others, and I missed interacting one-on-one with service members,” she said.

In 2011, Bentler shifted her educational pursuits by returning to school and completing her Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling and Human Services and her Master's Degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of Scranton. Returning to Tobyhanna in her current position in 2016, where she strives to help America’s heroes ensure they have purpose in the next phases of their lives. Looking ahead in her career, Bentler hopes to continue to make a difference in the lives of others.

“I am lucky to have a true passion for what I do. I hope to carry that into the future for a purposeful, fulfilling next chapter.”

Eligible service members can learn about the GI bill, take workshops on using USA Jobs and even participate in mock interviews through Tobyhanna’s Employment Readiness program.

After retiring from the Army after 32 years, former depot Sergeant Major Kelvin Spencer did not intend to become a permanent Northeastern Pennsylvania resident. He knew he wanted to continue serving Soldiers and their families, but, like Bentler, was unsure where the “right place” was for him.

“When a position opened up at the depot, it was very enticing to remain here as part of Team Tobyhanna – an organization and community I already had a strong commitment to. In addition, I was thrilled that I may be able to use skills I gained over the years,” adding that he supervised communications and electronics equipment repairers in the Army.

Since re-joining the depot team in 2012, Spencer has served as a leader in the Systems Integration and Support Directorate, where he says he continues to honor the values he learned as a Soldier.

“As a leader, I still live by the Non-Commissioned Officer’s (NCO) Creed and focus on the two responsibilities of an NCO – the accomplishment of our mission, and the welfare of my team. Nothing is more important to me,” adding that he strives to capitalize on the skills of depot veterans wherever he can. Spencer also serves as the President of the Tobyhanna Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, where he takes delight in helping make Northeastern Pennsylvania a better place.

The former Sergeant Major has a clear message for service members considering employment with Team Tobyhanna.

“This is a welcoming place for you. Your experience, knowledge and skills can be used to help the Soldiers who come after you when they need it most.”

The Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD) Veterans Council supports Northeastern Pennsylvania’s veteran community both on and off the installation. Officially chartered in October 1997, the organization’s mission is to promote connection and comradery for those who have served, and provide support and information for those who seek it. In tandem with the Army Community Services office, the council is available to provide veterans with updates on current changes to military benefits, and assist veterans with transitional issues, unused benefits, and general support by directing them to available resources.

Longtime member and the council’s current president, Adam Chase strives to invest his time and attention to the causes and concerns of the active and veteran personnel of all the uniformed services through the works of the group.

“We pride ourselves in the ability to direct or refer those needing assistance or help to any number of resources in our community,” said Chase, who is himself a U.S. Army veteran with 21 years of service. “Our members consist of a diverse group of veterans with a vast knowledge base.”

Though much of the support the council provides happens away from the spotlight, the organization steps forward several times throughout the year to honor and show support for the community of service men and women on and off the depot, through planned observances, ceremonies and events. The Veterans Council's keystone events bring appreciation and awareness to important veteran commemorations - Memorial Day, the Armed Forces birthdays, POW-MIA Remembrance Day, and Veterans Day. The group extends the invitation to the many veteran employees at TYAD to take an active role in these events. But one is not required to have served in the armed services to join the council and support these endeavors - all Team Tobyhanna employees are welcome to join the Tobyhanna Army Depot Veteran's Council - whether a veteran, or a non-veteran with veteran causes at heart.

“Any current or former member of the armed forces, non-veterans receiving benefits, military dependents, or depot employees who share a common interest are welcome to attend and actively participate in Veteran Council activities, and can be a member of the organization,” said Mike Cook, council Vice President and Tobyhanna employee. “Criteria for membership includes attending a council meeting and expressing a desire to become involved.”

The Tobyhanna Army Depot Veterans Council meets the first Thursday of every month at Noon. Employees can get involved by contacting any one of the council officers: Adam Chase, President; Mike Cook, Vice President; or Tom Salek, Sergeant at Arms.

Those interested in future career opportunities with Team Tobyhanna can apply through USAJobs at www.usajobs.gov. To make an appointment with the Employment and Financial Readiness manager, please call (570) 615-8887.