Veterans Day is a time to remember all those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to serve our country. At NetApp, we have always maintained a strong commitment to Veterans in many ways – from supporting career transition programs and backing organizations  that help Veterans through financial assistance and other services, we are proud to employ a number of Veterans on the US Public Sector team. On this Veterans Day, we want to thank each and every one of our Veterans for serving and bringing their own unique background and skillsets along with them. This week, we’d like to acknowledge Dean Pilgrim, Senior Manager – Professional Services, USPS at NetApp who started out his IT career in the US Air Force. We had a chance to sit down with Dean for a take on his military experiences and what Veterans Day means to him. Here’s what he had to say:

GovDataDownload(GDD): In what branch of the military did you serve?

Dean Pilgrim (DP): I grew up on a dairy farm in central Wisconsin. After high school, I spent a few more years working on the farm and a local sawmill. It was a great experience where I learned the true value of hard work, teamwork, and dedication at an early age, but I knew I wanted to experience more. In 1983, I enlisted in the United States Air Force, where I began my career in IT and IT Security.

(GDD): Why did you decide to serve?

(DP): I wanted to learn new skills and experience other areas of the world while serving our nation at the same time. The Air Force provided all of that and much more. President Ronald Reagan was our Commander-in-Chief when I first enlisted.

(GDD): What was your most memorable experience in the military?

(DP): I have numerous memorable experiences while serving in the Air Force during my 22-year career and many stand out as highly memorable. I had the opportunity to meet and serve with some of the greatest people I know. I spent twelve and a half years overseas where I lived in three different countries and spent time in many more countries on temporary duty. I led many different teams and was in charge of several IT communications systems and organizations. One of the most impactful experiences of serving was walking on the same ground and visiting memorials of our Veterans that served and sacrificed their lives overseas.

(GDD): How has serving in the military shaped your civilian life?

(DP): Serving in the military provided me years of hands-on experience and a tremendous opportunity to acquire formal education, technical training, and leadership development opportunities. The structure, discipline, and teamwork instilled by the military added to my early development growing up on the farm. The leadership and management experience I acquired in the military positioned me very well for civilian life, especially in my current role at NetApp supporting the military as part of the US Public Sector team.

(GDD): What does Veterans Day mean to you?

(DP): Veterans Day is a time where we as a nation come together to honor, remember, and reflect on all those who have served and continue to serve this great nation, past and present. The many sacrifices made by our nations Veterans, especially those injured and impacted in the line of duty and those who made the ultimate sacrifice, including those still missing in action, allow us to enjoy the many freedoms we so often take for granted in our daily lives. I will always be truly thankful for the sacrifices made by our Veterans – both those that were drafted or volunteered to serve our great nation.