Every Nov. 11 on Veterans Day, we honor United States military veterans who served in the armed forces. It’s a day to acknowledge their personal sacrifice – putting country before self in order to serve. Turner had the privilege of spending an October afternoon with five U.S. vets, who also work for Turner – Tom Grassia, Tamika McCollum-Williams, Dan Perry, Bryan Trahan and Sterling Wilson.

Three branches of the military were present to share their experiences that day – the Air Force, the Army and the Navy. We covered a number of topics but what we learned in that small period of time was invaluable. Despite differences in age, gender, ethnicities and branches, their recollections of their experiences in the service were strikingly similar – from boot camp to military food to making their beds, something all five still do every morning. Each former service member left an indelible impression on us and each other.

Tom Grassia

Tom Grassia

Cold War Veteran

Branch of Service: Army

Military job/Rank: Military Police/E3

Years in the armed forces: 3 active/3 reserve

Years at Turner: 22

For Grassia, one of the founding members of Turner V.E.T.S., the company's Business Resource Group for Turner's veterans, the Iran hostage crisis is what motivated him to leave the police force and join the military.

“If something was going to happen, I wanted to be in the middle of it,” he said.

Tamika McCollum-Williams

Tamika McCollum-Williams

Post 9/11 War Veteran

Branch of Service: Navy

Military job/Rank: Culinary Specialist/Petty Officer 2nd class

Years in the armed forces: 13

Years at Turner: 11

McCollum-Williams shared her dual experience as a service member and as a military wife.

“My husband’s Afghanistan deployment was probably the hardest thing I ever had to endure. There were a few bombs that came into the base while we were Skyping,” she remembered.

Bryan Trahan

Bryan Trahan

Cold War/Iraq-Iran War Veteran

Branch of Service: Air Force

Military job/Rank: Instructor Communications Technician/Staff Sergeant

Years in the armed forces: 9

Years at Turner: 16

Trahan, who spent time in the Middle East, Europe and Asia, talked about fighting in combat alongside fellow service members.

“Combat is where you see your brothers and sisters at their finest. You really are truly looking out for each other but when the rubber hits the road, that's where you find out how important they are,” he said. “It’s a tight bond, whether you are in combat or not.”

Sterling Wilson

Sterling Wilson

Post 9/11 War Veteran

Branch of Service: Navy

Military job/Rank: Postal Clerk/LS3

Years in the armed forces: 4

Years at Turner: 2

The youngest member of the group, Wilson, reminded us that veterans and the skills they obtained while in the military are valuable, especially once they return to civilian life. But what’s more – Sterling said he gained a better world perspective.

 “Sure, you can have a busy week and there's deadlines in the corporate world. But not 125-degree heat on a pier on Aqaba, Jordan, with people shouting you down with a rifle. It’s never as bad as it seems, and I know that now.”

Dan Perry

Dan Perry

Gulf War Veteran

Branch of Service: Navy

Military job/Rank: Hull Technician

Years in the armed forces: 4 active/4 reserve

Years at Turner: 9

Perry talked about being exposed to a world of experiences and people that he never knew existed before joining the military. He also credits the Navy with two important skills he still uses today.

“An attention to detail and confidence. I don't think I had it before I joined the military. Being given a task, you either do it or you fail, and you do it again,” he said. “I surprised myself and I think I walked away with a good amount of confidence from it.”

Turner spent a little more than an hour with these veterans. But in that small amount of time, you could feel a sense of comradery among the service members. Their selflessness spoke volumes as we listened to their stories. So, this year, thank a vet for their service to this country but go beyond that. Sit down with them. Ask them questions. Listen to their stories. You just might gain a new perspective and come out better for it.  

Tune into Turner Classic Movies (TCM) as they pay tribute to those who served with a day of films programmed and hosted by veterans from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy. Six veterans will join TCM Primetime Host Ben Mankiewicz to discuss their experiences in the military, as well as the films they selected that have been meaningful to them. Programming begins at 1 p.m. EST on Nov. 11 and airs throughout the day.