Our Heroes’ Stories

The Heroes Among Us

We Are Proud to Call These Brave Veterans Our Associates


Mark LaCroix

“Making Connections”

See Mark’s Story
In the military, I learned to trust in my fellow service members...and myself!

Mark
LaCroix

U.S. Air Force Veteran

Senior Human Resource Leader
(Layton Dairy, UT)

I enlisted in 1991 and joined the Air Force so I could see the world and experience new things. I spent over 22 years serving my country. For 11 years, I was an Electronics Technician and worked for Combat Camera and the Armed Forces News Network. In those positions, I was responsible for the setup and repair of computer, video and audio equipment. My last 11 years, I served in the Human Resources field. Eventually, I was Superintendent of Personnel for all recruiters in the Western U.S.

During my time in the Air Force, I was stationed at seven bases and had the honor of deploying five times. Along with these five deployments, I was able to travel to other locations on training and documentation visits. In total, I have travelled to over 40 countries. I spent the majority of my service in Europe and the Middle East, with my last deployment in Pakistan.

My children, parents and sisters really helped me stay connected and cope with the moves. I was blessed at each location to have a great church family…I could also lean on my fellow service members to help deal with the situations we were asked to serve in.

During my time abroad, I was able to call home thanks to the donation of calling cards. I was usually able to call home two to three times weekly and was able to chat via Skype on other occasions.

In the service, we were asked to do what most people would think are extraordinary things, but to us it was just our jobs. If we held true to our training and our values, we were able to accomplish anything!

During some of my last deployments, I was able to develop relationships with people via letters. Several organizations would organize pen pal drives with folks back home. I found a lot of comfort in communicating with someone who took time out of his or her own life to learn about me and my situation.

People can reach out to our servicemen and women by writing, sending care packages and other acts like this—it reminds them of who they’re serving!

Leslie Courtney

“Discovering Diversity”

See Leslie’s Story
I’m very proud. I appreciate the fact that Kroger provides opportunities that value the experience that our veterans have developed through diverse work, diverse environments and with diverse cultures.

Leslie
Courtney

U.S. Navy Veteran

Senior Director of Enterprise Support Centers

I served from December 1989 to March 1995, in the U.S. Navy. My job was a Cryptologic Technician—Operator (CTO). I joined because I wanted to serve my country.

I attended Boot Camp in Orlando, FL and A. School in Pensacola, FL for approximately 9 months. My 1st Assignment was at the Pentagon, Washington DC—I was Chief of Naval Operations Special Intelligence Communications Center (CNO SPINTCOMM) for approximately 1 year. At the time, working at the Pentagon was considered special duty and was considered a deployment. My 2nd Assignment was at Dahlgren, VA—Naval Space Surveillance Center (NAVSPASUR), later changed to Naval Space Command for approximately 2 years.

In the Navy, I learned that I’m very “purpose driven”—nothing gets me going like a good cause. I really developed a lot of self-sufficiency/independence during this phase of my life. But do miss the ordinary, everyday stuff of civilian life. For example, I missed my family and my mom’s cooking the most! I always looked forward to her chicken dumplings when I came home.

In my own experience, I think the USO provides an invaluable service for our military. It can be extremely hard to acclimate to the military way of life. The USO provides services that help keep our military and their families “connected.” Knowing that The Kroger Co. has raised over $18M to help support USO programs is one of the reasons that I love working for this company and it makes me very proud.

I appreciate the fact that Kroger provides opportunities that value the experience that our veterans have developed through diverse work, diverse environments and with diverse cultures. It can be SUCH an adjustment to move from the military to civilian life. Many move from assigned quarters, square meals and “command-and-control” to a whole host of unknowns. I was one of the lucky ones. I initially transitioned from the military to government work, with very little downtime in between. The job that I moved to was completely different than what I was responsible for in the military. I moved from processing classified documents to running a small warehouse—big change! Eventually, I moved from government logistics to working in logistics for large corporations. Though I was lucky, I still felt the stress of moving into the unknown. This is when I truly discovered my independence.

Clifton Thomas

“Serving a Purpose”

See Clifton’s Story
Through my military experience, I learned that I’m a quick learner and can adapt to many different situations.

Clifton
Thomas

U.S. Marine Veteran

Category Strategy Manager
(Corporate Brands)

I served in the Marine Corps from 1998 to 2002. I always felt the need to serve my country, but after seeing the impact that the Marine Corps had on several of my friends that joined before I did, I became passionate about becoming a Marine.

During my military career I worked in the administration office and I was also a Martial Arts Instructor. I started my career in Michigan but moved several times (North Carolina, South Carolina, California).

My impression is that the USO provides military personnel with much needed services, especially to those service members who are deployed and overseas. I only used the USO services at the airport when I was traveling. There’s a lounge in most airports that provides an area to relax, be around other military personnel and contact friends & family. I am aware of the Kroger Co.’s support of the USO. It makes me feel proud to work for a company that sees the value in the services that the USO provides to our service members.

Transition from the military to civilian life was difficult, but I got reacquainted with family and enrolled in school (I used the GI Bill) which help ease the transition because it kept me busy. Veterans have the skills and work ethic to be the best employees. More often than not, they just need an opportunity and Kroger is giving that to them. I am proud to work for a company that is committed to hiring veterans.