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What Military Appreciation Month Means to Me

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By Gina Smethurst

We often talk about the sacrifices our military members make when they deploy but do we ever think about the effect it takes on their family members? Being the oldest in a family of three and knowing at a young age that I wanted to serve my country, I never took into account the toll it would take on my mother.

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Gina Smethurst and her brother.

Having my younger brother serve in the military and be deployed right after my return from Iraq was a huge burden for my mother to bear. She was happy that I had returned, however having another child in harm’s way, caused her to spend countless hours in front of the television waiting to hear from my brother and wondering if his unit was affected in any way. I’d get plenty of calls from her daily asking if I had heard anything new from him and discussing how his job translated or supported war efforts; reassuring her everything was going to be okay but in the back of my mind knowing everyone is a soldier first.

Thankfully, my brother returned safely from his deployment. But, my window to deploy was rearing its ugly head. I saw what these deployments did to my mother’s nerves and didn’t want to put her through that again. The bigger question then became what do I do now? I knew the military instilled leadership skills and the best thing I knew to do was lead and take care of soldiers. But how would that translate in the civilian world?

The answer was taking care of people!

My first job right out of the military was as a Human Resources Generalist managing employment relations issues, recruitment, polices and procedures. I quickly learned that recruitment was the path I wanted to follow — helping others achieve that next level in their career and providing career advice to veterans. Not long after joining Sodexo, I was asked to join a military recruitment team and helped put initiatives together on how we could best educate our community and recruit veterans into the organization. I was super excited knowing I would be working for an organization that valued veterans and their transferable skills.

While it was a hard decision to exit the military before retirement, I don’t look back on joining the civilian world and making a sacrifice for my mother. Now, three years later I’m still part of the Sodexo military recruitment team and value the time I spend with a veteran or an active duty member showing them how they can become a contributing member to such a great organization like Sodexo.

Gina Smethurst is a Recruitment Manager with Sodexo.

Do you want to know what jobs are available to Veterans at Sodexo? Check out our Military Crosswalk where you can enter your military job title or code and search for jobs by location.

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