Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
A former Army tanker gets The Home Depot's tools where they need to go
Editor's Note: The following story highlights a veteran at The Home Depot committed to including talented members of the military community in its workplace, The Home Depot is a client of Hireprupose, a Task & Purpose sister company. Learn More.
Cramped inside a U.S. Army tank with three of his teammates in Cold War Germany, a young Tony Harrison felt the thrill of driving 60 tons of steel across the frigid ground.
He and a friend had joined the Army together in the summer of 1987, hoping to contribute to their country's security while securing a future for themselves through the G.I. Bill. But little did Harrison know that the lessons in teamwork, organization, and personal discipline that he learned in the Army would provide valuable lessons for business administration.
In a team of four, collaboration was essential for success. Harrison quickly learned to get along with people very different from himself, communicate effectively, and appreciate the value of roles.
"I enjoyed the discipline that the Army taught me, along with the lifelong friendships," he says. "It helped me to be a more well-rounded individual that could bring structure and organization to a unit."
Over time, he rose to the advanced position of tank gunner, and was assigned additional inventory responsibilities. In his free time, Harrison loved traveling throughout Europe, exploring Paris and London, and watching bullfights in Spain.
Leaving the Army
In 1992, Harrison decided it was time to see what the civilian world had to offer. Within a week of discharge, he secured an order selector position at a warehouse for a grocery chain.
"I was used to the physical work, which helped me adapt very well," he says. "And working in retail gave me an opportunity to be a thinker."
Harrison's organizational skills and leadership potential were apparent, and over the course of 12 years, he moved up the ladder of the logistics team to the position of inventory control superintendent. Then Harrison heard about an opening for an inventory control manager at a local Home Depot distribution center.
"A former boss who worked for The Home Depot told me about all of the different career opportunities that they offered," he recalls. "He knew I was a veteran, and he said it was a great place with a great culture behind them."
Intrigued, Harrison applied for the position and was hired.
"The Home Depot has a long tradition of hiring our veterans," he says. "I think the advantage we (veterans) have is the discipline and structure the military teaches us."
Working for The Home Depot
Fourteen years later, Harrison is still happily employed with The Home Depot. He now works as the general manager of a Dallas-based distribution center, where he is responsible for a team of approximately 40 associates who keep The Home Depot stores in parts of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas stocked.
"My responsibility is to take care of all of my associates and their safety while we're focusing on shipping goods into our stores," Harrison says.
Although his years of logistics experience and business administration classes prepared him for much of his day-to-day work, Harrison notes that to succeed in the associate-centered culture at The Home Depot, he relies on the teamwork and organizational skills he first developed in the Army.
"The organization, the structure, the command skills, those things have really helped me to transition," he says. "In the Army, you had to take care of one another, so the military definitely taught me that I had to take care of the folks who are out there taking care of you."
Harrison also supports his employees by helping them advance in their careers at The Home Depot, just as leaders in the military support their subordinates in promoting to the next rank. And he directs associates in need of financial or other assistance to The Home Depot's employee resources.
"At The Home Depot, we believe in showing empathy and understanding to our associates," he says. "I think having that background from the military helps me understand people from all walks of life. Because in the military, you don't know who your battle buddies are going to be, and you have to make sure you take care of people from all walks of life."
Supporting veterans at work
Harrison also enjoys the opportunities The Home Depot gives him to support his fellow veterans, both in his workplace and in his community. He coordinates recognition events for veteran associates on military holidays, as well as during The Home Depot's annual Celebration of Service event.
"I was a part of the Celebration of Service for our veterans," he says. "This was a very humbling experience to see how The Home Depot stands by our veterans and supports them on such a grand stage. To be a part of this is an experience that I will not forget."
Associates also participate in Team Depot community service events, many of which benefit military families and veterans. Harrison and his team recently visited a local VA hospital during a Team Depot event to visit and assist sick veterans.
In 2018, Team Depot volunteered more than 100,000 hours nationwide, and since 2011, Team Depot and The Home Depot Foundation have renovated, repaired, or built more than 40,000 homes and facilities for veterans. The Home Depot Foundation has pledged $500 million to veteran-related causes by 2025.
"Giving back to veterans is personal to The Home Depot, as more than 35,000 of the company's associates have served in the military," the company's website reports.
And of course, The Home Depot continues to seek out veteran employees like Harrison through military hiring events.
"The single piece of advice I would have for someone separating from the military and seeking employment at The Home Depot is to focus people," says Harrison. "You have to be an individual that looks to put people first."
This post sponsored by The Home Depot
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.