Kimco Culture

What it means to be a veteran, from a veteran

Posted by: Bonnie Collins Bonnie Collins
on November 7, 2016

Military service means a lot of different things. It means dedication, strength, and pride in your mission. It can be challenging but it can also help build a strong foundation for future success.

My military service began out of high school when I joined the United States Air Force. I was a bit of an unfocused teen with no particular career path firmly nailed down. My family had a history of military service and I enjoyed traveling and flying. I decided to join the Air Force where I served for four years of active duty and spent two years in the ready reserves. I finished my military career by achieving a non-commissioned officer rank of staff sergeant.

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On temporary duty assignment at RAF Bentwaters/Woodbridge, England

The transition between high school and military service was not easy. When you join the military it means you are suddenly not in charge of anything in your life and you are faced with physical and mental challenges that you must overcome to succeed. You find out your limits very quickly and learn how to work around and move past them through discipline, teamwork, and respect.

My title was automatic flight control systems specialist and I worked on A-10 aircrafts at Myrtle Beach Air Force Base for the majority of my time in the service. Myrtle Beach was a Tactical Air Command (TAC) mobility base so we were deployed about six months out of each year. I traveled all over the country as well as overseas which gave me the opportunity to meet many different people from diverse backgrounds along the way. The military encourages education and paid for a majority of the college classes I took while on active duty. I earned a two-year degree in avionics and then used the GI Bill to earn my degree in accounting.

Leadership and respect for organizational structure were just two of many skills I learned during my time in the military. Those skills were transferable to my role at Kimco — first as controller for the Florida region and more recently as the director of property finance and accounting for the southern region. Adaptability, strength in teamwork, accountability, and the value of engaged leadership at all levels have stayed with me during my career.

As much as I was able to carry invaluable skills over from my military experience to my role at Kimco, transition back to civilian life was — as it is for many — difficult. In the military, you learn early on that you are working towards goals greater than yourself and that your mission is noble and honorable: serving and protecting your country. There is a different type of pride that comes with your work.

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Inside a hangar at Chanute AFB in Illinois, the training base for avionics

The military can be an incredible opportunity to learn, expand your horizons, and develop your strengths. I had some really great experiences during my service — such as flying in the back of an F-15 and riding with the boom operator in an aerial refueler — but serving requires a lot of adaptation and an understanding that you are one part of a larger process towards mission success. Be focused, pay attention, and try things you never thought you’d be able to do. For young women, in particular, you may be the only woman or one of a few within a certain role out there. If you always do your best and be inspired by the mission and purpose of the bigger picture, you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.

This Veterans Day, I would like to acknowledge all of the veterans here at Kimco. In the Charlotte office alone, fellow veterans include Mike Poarch, tenant account analyst; Stephanie Hamilton, property analyst; and Linda McGrath, regional property coordinator. To me, Veterans Day means pausing to think about all of those who have served and sacrificed in defense of our country. We honor and celebrate the freedoms we enjoy because of the sacrifices made by vets and their families. If you can go to a Veterans Day parade, I encourage you to go and cheer on the veterans. It’s a wonderful way to celebrate the day, and it means a lot to veterans and their families.

5 COMMENTS

Bonnie excellent blog insisting the importance of respecting the veterans and how important it is for them to see people supporting them. Also i liked the way you sync the military and corporate both being different extreme. thanks for sharing your learnings!!

Sri

November 9, 2016

To Bonnie, all Kimco veterans, Esther Chung (Marines), our department veteran, and all veterans across the country, thank you for your service. Know your service is very much appreciated. We would not have the freedoms we have today without your dedicated service to our country.

Diane Agostinello

November 10, 2016

Bonnie,

What a wonderful article. I saw the title and “What it means to be a Veteran” and I thought of my father who was such a proud WWII Veteran and opened it up to read it not knowing that you were in the service. I have all my fathers medals in a special case including the Purple Heart. I cannot thank you and all our veterans for serving all of us to have the freedoms we enjoy in our Great Country.

Debbie H.

Debbie Heeren

November 10, 2016

Bonnie – Amazing post. I truly thank you and my other Kimco colleagues who I didn’t know served, but now do via this post for the service you did for our country. I make sure to always thank someone in uniform as I travel because it is sometimes a thankless job and the strength of a smile and true gratitude can go far. I also thank those who are no longer with us. My great uncle was laid to rest at Calverton National Cemetery. You see the flag folding ceremony in the movies and do not think of it, but when you see it in person, it It is another story. Seeing the sheer number of graves can make anyone grateful to those who have served to insure our safety and freedom. Thank again for posting this.
-Scott

Scott Moskowitz

November 10, 2016

Bonnie,

Great blog. I never knew you serviced in the military, thank you for your service and Happy Veteran’s Day.

Marisel Nuñez

November 10, 2016


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