By Mark Hallum
New York City Transit gave recognition to two employees who not only served in the military, but coordinate with others like them in the MTA’s work force on Tuesday.
In the past six years, MTA has hired up to 1,440 veterans through recruiting initiatives, according to Pat Warren, the MTA’s Chief Safety Officer, a veteran himself and West Point graduate.
Appreciation for these veteran civil servants was also coupled with the reality that suicide among former military members is up 20% in 2020 with each day seeing over 30 deaths among this group.
“Just like millions of others that have come before them and have served today have provided us the finest protection that we enjoy daily. Often said but with no less impact, they served selflessly and I want to thank each and every one of them,” Warren said to socially distanced room of other vets.
Aleyda Meyers, the Director for Veteran Recruitment and Staffing Initiatives at the MTA, and Ricky Semple, a manager in the Train Control Department, received the annual awards from the transit agency ahead of Veterans Day were the two main recipients of the appreciation ceremony.
“Veterans are very, very special people, not because we serve our country but because of what we can bring to the table with our experience and discipline,” Semple said. “To observe a veteran, you might find that we look like other folks, but you will find that we have values that distinguish us from other folks.”
Retiring, recently, from the U.S. Army after 42 years and achieving the rank of colonel, Semple has also spent 35 overlapping years with the New York City Transit where he was worked as an electrical helper in the Maintenance of Way Signals Department and held several other roles before serving as a manager in the Construction and Development Signals and Train Control Department.
“Every time I get a resume from a veteran and they’re interested in working in [New York City Transit] I make sure that they hand-deliver it to the hiring manager,“ said Meyers, a Brooklyn native. “We don’t just passively act to get those number, we are out in the field. We’re out in Fort Hamilton, West Point… We look for people who are mission-driven, safety conscious, situationally aware, who are smart and when something goes wrong they don’t run around like their hair’s on fire, they make things happen.”
After 9/11, Meyers began volunteering at Fort Hamilton helping service members leaving the military find civilian employment by grooming their interviewing skills and resumes.
The veterans Suicide Awareness and Remembrance Flag Corporation, in order to promote the destigmatization surrounding veterans who die by suicide, offered resources: the Military and Veterans Crisis Lifeline at 800-273-TALK, and the Vets 4 Warriors at 800-662-HELP.
Correction note: an earlier version of this article stated that Ricky Semple was a colonel in the Marine Corp. However, Mr. Semple served in the U.S. Army. We regret the error.