Veterans Day

With the holiday season approaching, we are reminded to be thankful for the things we appreciate in our lives and that the season of giving is upon us. We’ll all be fortunate to enjoy some time away from our busy professional lives and spend some time with our loved ones. Perhaps there’s the comfort of a fireplace, a football game and a holiday meal with our families to look forward to.

Today is the day we thank the men and women who served our country to afford us these liberties.  Today is the day to thank those veterans who are our family members, our friends, our coworkers and the strangers we pass in uniform. It is important to remember that without their sacrifice, our lives and our children’s lives would be much different. Take the time to thank a veteran for their service and ask them a little bit about their story. What you’ll find is that these men and women are some of the brightest and sharpest our country has to offer.

This year, BluSky asked two veterans to share their stories and provide a bit of insight into how their service has shaped them as leaders in the property insurance and restoration industries.

Travis Vogt, BluSky Restoration Contractors

Travis Vogt, US Army veteran

Travis Vogt

Travis Vogt’s story with the service started soon after his high school graduation in 2001. As a farm kid growing up in the ‘middle of nowhere Minnesota,’ he didn’t know what would be next for him after he threw his hat up in the air at graduation. Travis remembers the exact day he enlisted with the US army about 18 years ago— September 3, 2001. For the first week, everyone was talking about the downtime and the travel they all looked forward to, then on September 11, the atmosphere changed.  Travis remembers the sentiment of the men and women shifting toward focused preparation, as they knew their deployment was imminent. In his words, “it was time to get really good at what I need to do because…this is what I signed up for.”

Travis served three tours in Iraq in the war on terrorism.  He was on the tip of the spear when invading Iraq from Kuwait in 2003 and fought in a specialized urban warfare to ensure the safety of his men. I asked Travis to send along as many combat photos as he could find. However, when one is kicking in doors and clearing buildings as a ‘ground-pounder,’ it seems cameras are ‘just extra weight.’

Following his time overseas, Travis began preparing for civilian life.  As a result, he studied criminal justice and joined a recruiting battalion where he cut his teeth in sales.

Travis reflects fondly over his time in the service and encourages young men and woman considering enlisting to make sure they think the decision through and to take advantage of the many career paths the military offers for professional development.  For veterans looking to enter their professional lives as civilians, Travis believes there are a lot of benefits for veterans in the property restoration field.  Thinking on your feet and keeping a cool head under pressure are traits our veterans have expertise and applicable when dealing with emergency property restoration.

Travis remembered a typical Iraq summer day of 130-degree heat in the shade. After snapping this photo, he was sent off on patrol in full gear.

Travis is a humble man who treats people with kindness and respect. His service history is something for which we should all be grateful. Travis is a leader in the purest sense of the title, and we are grateful to have him a member of our BluSky family.  Thank you for your service, Travis!

John Brinkley, Sedgwick Claims Management Services

John Brinkley and family

As a senior building consultant with Sedgwick, people turn to John Brinkley for answers on some of the ugliest and messiest claims in the industry. As a combat veteran with the U.S. Army, John faces these professional battles with integrity and cites his experience as the founder of his own general contracting firm and his training in the Army Corps of Engineers, as major contributors to his professional success.

John served in the Army during the Persian Gulf War in an artillery division.  He remembers leaving the states on his deployment to the Persian Gulf and shared photos of him saying goodbye to his wife and three children (ages 7, 5 and 4).  While John’s deployment date was top secret, he and his wife Tammy attempted to make the kid’s last memories cheerful by celebrating Christmas before each deployment window.  He remembers sharing three Christmases with family and friends as he awaited his deployment.

When I asked John about what advice he would give to young men or women starting their career in the military, he chuckled and said, “they’ll be given all of the advice they need fairly immediately.” He also encouraged men and women who are in the service to understand “they made the right decision and to stay the course.” For folks considering the military service as a career path, he believes that “it creates a solid base for the rest of your life. This being especially true for men and women needing a little bit of structure.”

John Brinkley

John Brinkley is a humble, virtuous family man and professional. He commands respect and has a keen attention to detail. Photo of John in front of his M109 #A Howitzer.

For those considering a career in property claims, John advises getting your feet wet in the construction industry as a prerequisite.  In reflecting back at his successes, John recognizes his construction aptitude as his weapon of choice for resolving complex losses.

For most of us, we’ll never know what it’s like to say goodbye to family and head off to war.  We’ll probably never understand the first-hand fear of chemical weapons or what it feels like to be on the front line of liberating another country.  Most will never have to see day turn to night with burning oil fields on the horizon.

John’s combat experience should serve as a reminder of the sacrifices our veterans make so that we don’t have to.  John’s professional success should serve as a reminder of the power of virtue and integrity.  John, we are so thankful for your service, sacrifice and the example you have set for our industry.

Thankful for our veterans

We are so fortunate to have a great group of veterans as part of our BluSky family and want to thank everyone for their service this Veterans Day. Perhaps Travis’ and John’s stories provoke more storytelling around the offices today. The men and women of our armed services are the best and the brightest.  Our Veterans’ sacrifices are so deeply meaningful, not only for those that serve, but for their families as well. We are thankful to our BluSky service men and women this Veterans Day. We appreciate your service and look forward to hearing your stories around the office!