With more than 2,260 veterans employed across both sites, CNS understands and values the skills that previous military experience brings. The CNS mission is often a logical fit for veterans as working at Pantex or Y-12 allows them to continue their service to the nation.
“Veterans are able to transition into the workforce at CNS easily,” explained Emily Graber, CNS director of Human Resources’ Engagement, Inclusion, and Performance department. “They often are hired for not only their technical skills, but also their leadership, teamwork, decision making, problem solving, and loyalty.”
CNS works hard to actively recruit veterans for open positions through a variety of avenues such as in-person and virtual job fairs at military transition offices and bases, as well as tools such as LinkedIn and Indeed. Programs including Veterans to Engineers and the Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge internship act as a path to more easily bring in veterans who have retired or are near the end of their military service careers.
CNS has been partnering with the DoD SkillBridge program for almost three 3 years, and has hosted more than 56 veterans during that time. The program allows transitioning service members to spend up to their last six 6 months of service on active duty with CNS. It also gives CNS an opportunity to determine if the participating veterans are a good fit for the organization and allows for an easier transition into a full-time position if the placement is available.
“We are honored to partner with the DoD SkillBridge program to offer an opportunity for transitioning service members to intern with us here at CNS,” said Graber. “Our program has a great reputation for bringing on talented veterans who are able to come in and immediately make a positive impact at CNS based on their experience and prior service to the nation.”
To date, CNS has hired 33 SkillBridge interns into full-time positions, which showcases the value that management sees in the program.
“The Skillbridge program was a huge benefit to my family and to me,” said former SkillBridge intern and current Y-12 communications specialist Matt Pippin. “I was able to intern here at Y-12 and learn how to apply the skills I gained in the Army to the CNS mission. Y-12, in many ways, is similar to working on a military installation so it made the transition from Army life to civilian fairly smooth. Making the transition from military life to civilian is quite difficult so I was happy to see how CNS supports service members and veterans trying to build the next stage of their life.”
CNS also provides support for veterans after they are hired. The Serving our Service Members Affinity Groups at both sites support veteran employees and families during military service, assists with hiring from the veteran community, and provides volunteer and social opportunities with larger East Tennessee and Texas Panhandle veteran groups.
In fiscal year (FY) 2022, CNS successfully hired 288 veterans, which was an increase from the 113 veterans hired in FY 2021. Due to this accomplishment, CNS was recently awarded a gold medallion by the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, which recognizes employers for their efforts to recruit, employ, and retain our nation’s veterans. The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans (HIRE Vets) Act of 2017 was signed into law in May 2017. The Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) administers the HIRE Vets Medallion Program. This is the third year in a row that CNS has received the gold medallion award for its work in veteran recruiting and retention.
An additional recognition at Y-12 in FY 2022 came when Site Manager Gene Sievers received a Patriot Award from the DoD’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program. The award, while given to single person, reflects employer efforts to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off before and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence. More than 100 active guard members and reservists work at Y-12.
It is not the recognition that keeps CNS recruiters actively searching for veterans to fill positions time and time again. With real-life work experience, accountability for their actions, strong work ethic, and good performance under pressure, veterans have a plethora of skills that are invaluable to employers. CNS is proud to employ many of our country’s heroes as we all work side-by-side toward our collective mission.
Take five minutes and learn about CNS's James “J.D.” Harris, production manager at Pantex. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.
The work that James “J.D.” Harris has done in his career has often run parallel to the Pantex mission, but they did not intersect until 7 years ago.
Growing up, the Amarillo native wanted to be a youth minister, but after graduating high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served 6 years of active duty as a munitions systems specialist, a choice that forever changed his trajectory.
“That line of work seemed to fit perfectly with the Pantex mission,” he said. “It gave me a different perspective on how I thought about my path in life. I was excited about the things I got to be a part of in the Air Force and I wanted to continue that after separating.” Harris still serves as a member of the Air National Guard.
After earning a degree at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, he applied at Pantex.
“Pantex was always in the back of my mind, but as I began to pursue it as my career, I did not believe it would be a reality,” Harris said. “The initial phone call for an interview is one that I will always remember.”
Harris started as a production section manager over the W88 and B61 weapons programs before moving to operations. He was promoted to production manager for the Production Tooling Department before settling in to his current role as production manager for the W88 program.
Why are you mission success?
I’m not sure that I, alone, am “mission success,” but I’ve certainly been a part of several teams that could be considered that. No success that I have ever obtained has been done by my hand alone.
Without the production technicians, I would be nowhere, and without support organizations, I would be nowhere. Where my success happens is when I can engage with both of those groups and bring them together, so that we can all be “mission success.”
What advice would you offer to veterans joining Pantex’s efforts?
Although there are lots of similarities between a life in the military and a life as a Pantex employee, the thing that a veteran shouldn’t expect is that they are one and the same.
Sometimes it was difficult for me, in the beginning, to see this as a civilian job, but that’s what this is. Demands from Pantex’s customer often change. Major projects come to an end, and a new goal is established and executed. In the military, the demand never changes. The goal never really changes.
A veteran just beginning at Pantex should be prepared to experience change.
As an employee, what do you want to be remembered for?
I want to be known as someone who could achieve success while being dedicated to my employees and to the mission. There is balancing act that is needed to ensure the mission of Pantex is met, while also ensuring your employees work in a healthy environment.
If I can be known as someone who was able to achieve that, then I’ll be happy.
What top strength do you bring to your organization?
Communication. I believe that the only way an organization can be successful is by open and honest communication.
I communicate with my team, with my management, and with all support organizations regularly.
What is your top bucket list item?
To live long enough to see the Cowboys win another Super Bowl. I’m running out of time.
Pantex Site Manager Colby Yeary accepted the Outstanding Community Partner award on the plant’s behalf at the event held at the Alumni Banquet Hall at West Texas A&M University.
Women belong in science.
It is a commitment held in high regard at Pantex, and that effort was recognized on October 27 by the Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains, which honored Pantex as its Outstanding Community Partner of 2022 at its annual Women of Distinction award banquet.
“We are thrilled to honor Pantex as this year’s Outstanding Community Partner,” said Becky Burton, CEO of Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains. “As a longtime partner to Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains with both employee volunteer opportunities and monetary donations, I can’t think of a more deserving organization to honor at this year’s Women of Distinction dinner. I look forward to continuing our partnership for many years to come as we encourage young women across the Panhandle to grow with courage, confidence, and character.”
Pantex has long been a supporter of Girl Scouts and has been involved in programs to encourage and inspire young women who have an interest in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. In the past, it has operated programs such as the Smart Cookies and S’more Engineering in direct partnership with the Girl Scouts and continues to reach out to middle-school-age girls with educational events like those hosted by Amarillo Women in Science Endeavors.
In addition, individual Pantexans have been very involved with the Girl Scouts program. For example, Stephanie Steelman, a Pantex scientist, former Girl Scout, troop leader, and a parent of a Girl Scout, volunteers regularly for outreach programs that promote youth involvement in STEM fields. In 2020, she received the Girl Scout council’s Women of Distinction Connect Award.
“Pantex has a lot of scientists and engineers that are previous Girl Scouts,” Steelman said. “I think the most important thing that Pantex can do to keep young girls engaged in STEM fields is to support outreach activities with the Girl Scouts. I have been lucky to know a lot of Scout leaders in Amarillo that ask me to help with their STEM badges, and when these young ladies see a woman working in STEM field and having fun in their endeavors, that is one positive ‘touch.’ I read somewhere that it takes 10 positive ‘touches’ to pique someone’s interest in a subject, so Girl Scouts allows us to increase those positive experience numbers.”
Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains serves 81 counties, including more than 1,200 girls in the Panhandle. At its annual Women of Distinction banquet, they recognize leaders in business, government, education, and philanthropy, as well as raise money to support their programming efforts in the Amarillo area.
Pantex Site Manager Colby Yeary accepted the Outstanding Community Partner award on the plant’s behalf at the event held at the Alumni Banquet Hall at West Texas A&M University.
“Pantex’s relationship with the Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains is an excellent example of our commitment to the youth in our area and our dedication to service and leadership,” Yeary said. “Pantex is a proud supporter of Girl Scouts, and we feel it is important to help our next generation of women realize their fullest potential. We especially want them to know that STEM is a rewarding field, and they can be anything they can dream of, and opportunities to make a difference exist.”
Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains honored Pantex as its Outstanding Community Partner of 2022
Take five minutes and learn about CNS's Laurie Godinez, a records administrator at Pantex. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.
Laurie Godinez travelled all over the world but has chosen to make Pantex home.
She grew up in a small, coastal California town, and after a couple years of college decided to join the U.S. Army.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life,” Godinez said. “I was a truck driver by trade, but my favorite job in the military was as a squad leader and platoon sergeant, because I had a daily impact on soldiers’ lives.”
While serving, she met and married her husband, Elgin, who is a native of Dumas, Texas, which is about an hour outside of Amarillo. They traveled the world for their duties, being stationed in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Germany, and the Netherlands.
When it was time for them to separate from active duty, Elgin was ready to come home, so they and their three kids moved to Amarillo. Elgin, too, is employed at Pantex.
When Godinez was first hired almost seven years ago, it was as a production technician. While waiting for her clearance, she kept busy helping Human Resources digitize personnel records.
“Once my clearance was granted, I worked in Data Management and decided to apply for a job as a clerk,” she said. “Long story short, I never made it to the line as a PT, but I think I found my calling behind the scenes.”
Godinez works in Data Management as a records administrator, which includes a complex puzzle of receiving, compiling, and transmitting data.
She is easy to spot during the month of October — she is the one dressed in festive Halloween outfits.
“A few years ago, I was trying to decide what to wear for Halloween,” she said. “My son suggested that I just dress up every day in October, since I love costumes so much. I accepted that challenge, and I have been dressing up each day of October since 2018. At first, my family thought it was crazy, but it has brought so many laughs from coworkers and so many smiles from little kids that I may encounter while running errands after work.”
How does patriotism factor into your life? Did your level of patriotism change after working at Pantex or Y-12?
I have spent most of my life in service to our country. When I retired from the Army, I didn’t know how I would continue that service. Working at Pantex and serving a continuing role in defending our nation has only deepened the patriotism that I have always felt.
I have lived in several foreign countries, and like Dorothy said in The Wizard of Oz, “There is no place like home.”
What is your favorite aspect about your work environment? How does that aspect make you know the mission is being met?
My favorite part about our work environment is the teamwork. Everyone brings their own perspective and ideas, and I feel like we all work well together. This sense of teamwork helps us shift our focus when someone has a high workload to make sure that everything gets done on time.
What work advice would you offer someone who is new to Pantex or Y-12?
Learn as much as you can from the people that have been here for a long time; they won’t be here forever.
Don’t be afraid to suggest changes or improvements. Even if they don’t work out, it could lead to process improvements.
Make sure you have everything you need when you leave the house in the morning, because it is a long drive back to town if you forget your badge.
What is your favorite outside-of-work activity and why?
Spending time with my family. We love to have game nights and travel.
I have a grandson who is almost six months old and he is the light of my life. Since this is my first Halloween as a grandma, I decided to include my grandson, and he and I dressed up in Halloween costumes every day for the month of October. He definitely stole the show!
What is your favorite Halloween candy and why?
Milk Duds, because they taste so good with hot, buttery popcorn.
Or the flavored Tootsie Rolls, because the only time I find them is in the big Halloween Tootsie Roll bag of candy.
In the time it takes to read this, your entire home could become engulfed in flames.
“When a fire occurs in your home, it’s too late for plan development,” said Mari-Kaye Monday, Y-12 Fire Department assistant chief of operations.
The contrast in approaches to fire safety when at home versus when out in public is striking. Common-sense awareness, like finding the nearest exit, is one of the first things discussed when boarding any passenger airplane. Walk into a hotel or other commercial building, and the fire-safety signage is prominent and, likely redundant. In school, our children drill orderly evacuation from a fire at an early age.
Yet, our home, the very place we feel the most safe, is often deceptive in its false sense of refuge.
“A wise old fireman, who just happened to be my father, told me once, ‘If you are not prepared, the fire gives the test before teaching the lesson,’” said Assistant Pantex Fire Chief Robert Napp.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, fires claimed the lives of 112 Texans and 57 Tennesseans in 2021. Additionally, the National Fire Protection Association said about 74% of that year’s 3,315 civilian fire deaths in the United States occurred in the victims’ homes. That’s often because today’s residential construction materials burn differently than the traditional building materials used in the past.
“Due to the increase in the use of synthetics in modern construction materials and furniture, fires burn hotter and faster and with more smoke production than in years past,” Monday said. “The risk of flashover and collapse are significantly increased in today’s fires, giving little time to react.”
With such a small escape window—as little as 2 minutes, some experts say—having an established, well-known, and practiced plan can be the difference between life and death. This year, the focus of Fire Prevention Week™, which will be recognized October 9-15, is to encourage Americans to create a home escape plan and to regularly practice it with the entire family.
“That plan needs to include a meeting place in front of the home,” Napp urged. “Speaking from experience, I would much rather pull up to a burning home and see the family all huddled together on the front sidewalk than to pull up and see only bicycles and tricycles in the front yard.”