At Sunmount Paving Company, our team is strengthened by the dedication and leadership of numerous United States military veterans. Safety Manager Sue Mendoza is one of them. Sue served our country for a total of six years in the US Army, before transitioning to civilian life and the construction industry. Her military training, she says, helped prepare her for the career she now has with our company.
Sue’s entry into the US Army wasn’t exactly planned. It happened as a result of driving her sister to a recruiting office located inside a mall in her hometown of Albany, NY. While waiting outside for her sister to enlist, Sue was approached by a recruiting officer. 19 years old at the time, and working her way through college for a degree in social work, Sue says she was intrigued by what the Army could offer.
“Once I started hearing about all the jobs that were available, I realized there was more to it than just carrying a rifle and marching. Learning about the GI Bill was appealing to me at the time, so I signed up.”
“Many people in the military don’t realize how similar it is to the construction industry. You’re trained to succeed in high-stress conditions, as part of multi-level teams to accomplish complex jobs. People in the military who are not looking at construction are really overlooking a great career opportunity. They’re already trained for it.”
After enlisting on the same day, Sue and her sister had the good fortune of being stationed together. Because of her sister’s name, Billie Joe, the Army mistakenly assumed that Sue and her sister were husband and wife. This resulted in them being sent to basic training together in Fort McClellan, AL, and later to Harvey Barracks in Germany.
Overseas, both Sue and her sister became Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Operations Specialists, which Sue chose because it offered her additional money to put toward college. The position introduced her to working on trucks and heavy equipment, similar to the types of vehicles she would encounter later in life once she entered the construction industry.
Sue says that for her, coming from small-town Upstate New York, military life abroad was a great opportunity. “It was wonderful being in Germany,” she says. “This was before September 11th, and you could travel all over Europe by train. I got to experience Spain, Italy, France. And at the end of a weekend trip, you came back to the barracks that had all the things you appreciate and know as an American.”
Additionally, Sue says she enjoyed the military culture of teamwork and comradery, which prepared her for the construction industry. “Many people in the military don’t realize how similar it is to the construction industry,” she says. “You’re trained to succeed in high-stress conditions, as part of multi-level teams to accomplish complex jobs. People in the military who are not looking at construction are really overlooking a great career opportunity. They’re already trained for it.”
After serving four years in Germany, Sue and her husband—a fellow soldier whom she met in the Army—returned to the United States where she was stationed with a Black Hawk unit at Fort Hood. Following the September 11th attacks, her husband was deployed to Iraq where he was stationed more than a year. Sue completed her military service and joined the National Guard, but eventually found her way back to college to pursue a degree in Safety, paid for by the GI Bill.
Sue now serves as Safety Manager with Sunmount Paving, and continues to draw upon the skills and leadership qualities she developed in the Army. Sunmount Paving is grateful to her and the many other veterans who contribute to our team’s success. On Veterans Day, and throughout the entire year, we thank them for their service and sacrifice.