Although Johnnie McEntire has been out of the U.S. Army for more than 30 years, he still brings lessons learned from that experience to his role at Advantage Solutions, where he works on the Workforce Empowerment team as a supervisor of delegate support, organizing and supporting job recruitment and demonstration events across the country. He has been with Advantage since April 2019. As part of Advantage’s celebration of National Veterans and Military Families Month and its Warrior Support Crew (WSC) employee resource group, we spoke with Johnnie about his military background and involvement with the WSC and how both have impacted him personally and professionally.
Share with us a little bit about your military career and background.
I enlisted in the Army in February 1989, and my enlistment ended in July 1991 after I returned to my base in Furth, Germany, from Desert Storm. I was in for two-and-a-half years and attained the rank of Private First Class. Until Desert Storm, I was in the 16th Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Division where I was a Combat Engineer Crewman.
What led you to join the Army?
I was working out of high school at a large restaurant and catering business in North Texas, working 60 to 70 hours per week. I lived right next door to the place, so I was always working. It’s kind of hard to go to college when you’re working that many hours, so I decided I would join the Army and let them pay for my education through the GI bill. After getting discharged, I went to school for about a year but I really wasn’t ready for it. So I went back to work, first at the restaurant, then a few local plants, eventually at Motorola and AT&T. During that time, I went back to school and finished my degree in computer science.
What would you say today to young people considering the military, based on your experience?
When it comes time to choose a job or role in the Army, choose something that you would enjoy doing on the outside because that way it’ll translate better to a career if and when you leave military service. And you won’t get burned out or our bored while you’re there.
On the flip side, what would you say to military Veterans who might be considering a career at Advantage?
That Advantage is a good place to work. There’s a lot of camaraderie here. I work across all banners and retail and sales, and you get to know all sorts of people who are there to help. And I also would encourage them to participate in the Warrior Support Crew.
What are some skills that you learned while in the service that helped you be successful in your career?
The military taught me that no matter what, there is always a solution. It might not always be optimal, but it’s there. We are all capable of doing much more mentally and physically than we ever imagined, and we can do even more when we work together. I’ve also learned that no matter the situation, whether at work or in my personal life, panicking never helps. Keep cool and look for a solution.
Tell us about your involvement with Advantage’s Warrior Support Crew employee resource group, and how it helps serve Veterans and military families.
I like being included in the Warrior Support Crew because I can do my part to help others. The Warrior Support Crew helps Veterans find resources and support their needs. As an officer in my local VFW Post 8561 and somebody who’s had experience with the VA, I have access to resources that some WSC members aren’t familiar with and I’m able to share those with the group.
One of the best things about being in the Warrior Support Crew for me is hearing from guest speakers and other members sharing their stories and points of view. I always learn something new. It’s really good to talk to other people that had different experiences in the military and different experiences after the military so we can better understand what they might need.
Any professional advice you could share that you have learned along your way, either from the military or throughout your career?
There are a few pieces of advice I like to share:
- We can always learn new things, and this makes us more valuable to any employer as well as keeping us interested and continually growing.
- Never hesitate to ask questions; no one knows everything. If you’re not asking questions, you aren’t growing.
- Work with and help your friends and peers personally and professionally. The links you make will always be a benefit in the future.
What do you do when you’re not working or spending time with Veterans?
I like to go camping to different parks and lakes and rivers. I like being outside. I enjoy going to festivals for different cultures, like the Greek Festival, Oktoberfest and the Native American festival held locally. I really enjoy studying medieval European culture and history. I also collect medieval weaponry.
Johnnie, it’s been a real pleasure talking with you today. Thank you for your service and your continued involvement with Veterans.