Wanting to follow in his late grandfather’s footsteps, Former U.S. Air Force Veteran Joel Zoufaly served at Cannon Air Force Base in New Mexico for three years active duty as a Power Pro Technician and then worked two years Reserves at Westover Air Reserve Base in Massachusetts. Coming from a family of mostly blue-collar workers and military veterans, Zoufaly wanted to feel closer to his WWI veteran grandfather, those relatives that have served and those he had lost to serving; he wanted to carry on the family legacy. “The feeling of serving your country, (my grandfather) thought that was the most rewarding job you could have. When he passed away, that was a big reason that I went into the Air Force,” Zoufaly said.
Being a Power Pro Technician that worked on generators, Zoufaly says the most rewarding part was being a part of the emergency response team. “It seems slower at first but once the power goes out, you’re the most important guy there and you’re working 24 hours – that’s when it really stands out.” Being a part of the emergency response team, “you don’t feel like you’re a hero or you’re doing anything spectacular right away but when that time hits and you see how talented you are and how they molded you, that’s when you really feel it and it’s great,” said Zoufaly. “When I came back to civilian life, that’s when it really hit me.”
Going into the military, Zoufaly knew he would be coming away with a band of brothers and sisters for life. Excited to meet new people, he knew that “when you join, you’re just in a melting pot of different personalities and different lifestyles and it was really cool to get to bond with different people.” Looking back on the friendships he’s formed and has still kept today, “some of the guys that I worked with as generator mechanics, some are now lawyers, some are firefighters, some are still serving. It is cool to check Facebook or Instagram and see that they’re living this really amazing life.”
Reflecting on his time served in the military, Zoufaly remembers a handful of experiences that helped him bond with his buddies who were also working as Power Pro Technicians and Generator Mechanics. Many of the times their squad was called in to action was for long shifts that lasted for many consecutive days in tough conditions. “Working 12-hour shifts with water up to my knees and we did that for about 60 straight days. That was one of the most bonding experiences I’ve had with everybody,” Zoufaly said.
Having civilians acknowledge the sacrifice that veterans make for the United States is something that Zoufaly stands behind. “It’s one of those jobs where you don’t get appreciated all the time and a lot of people go unnoticed, so any little bit of appreciation is huge, and we do notice it.” One thing that stands out to Zoufaly is when brands support veterans and military. “Any brand that supports military is huge. It’s one of those things we try to do is utilize those brands because they’re typically made to last long, and they’re made for us. We work hard, we work in weird environments and we need something that’s going to work the first time and work right. If those brands support us, they’re made for us. You’re putting your life out there on the line so to have a company or someone in general to notice that, it’s huge.”
Currently working as an intern for a company that employs Veterans, Zoufaly credits his military background for his versatile skillset that allows him to flourish in his current role. “(Being in the military) was extremely beneficial. I see civilians and work next to people all the time and I know I have an edge on them. You carry yourself differently and people notice it.” The discipline that comes with a military background is also something that has shaped Zoufaly’s work ethic. “With internships, it’s nonstop. When you’re in the military that’s what life’s like, and that’s what I like. I like working 12-16 hours a day just keeping my hands busy.”
To find out more about Joel Zoufaly’s hero story, watch the video below: