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From the Navy to the Railroad: A Cycle of Service

By Operation Homefront

April 30, 2020

In 2018, Operation Homefront partnered with CSX, a premier transportation company, as a part of the CSX Pride in ServiceTM initiative to further our mission to build strong, stable and secure military families. With support from CSX, we have hosted Star-Spangled Baby Shower and Back-to-School Brigade events – providing meaningful connection points and essential services for military families. We are also able to provide critical financial assistance for military families in need across CSX’s 23-state footprint. In this guest blog, we asked one of CSX’s very own employees, Will Lahnen, to share how the cycle of service has continued through his life and career.

My Pride in Service story begins long before CSX rallied employees in a shared social mission to honor and serve those who serve; it began with my first job, serving in the U.S. Navy. After a decade in the Navy and now a decade with the railroad, I can reflect on the ongoing cycle of service that I’m proud to have been a part of.

After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, I made the decision to serve on nuclear submarines. My seven years of active duty service was highlighted by deploying on five patrols aboard the USS Maryland. As a native of Jacksonville, Fla., I jumped at the opportunity to begin my professional career with CSX once my military duties had been fulfilled. I currently serve the Senior Director of Facilities Management.

Many people don’t realize how similar the military and rail industry really are. In both professions, there is a fundamental importance of running operations safely, efficiently, effectively, and on time. And, although the sense of solidarity and camaraderie that comes in serving in the military is unparalleled, I did not expect to experience such a strong sense of community and collaboration among my colleagues when I joined CSX.

What I will never forget about my transition from the military to the civilian workforce was the outpouring of support from other veterans willing to share their experience and networks to give me a leg up. After completing my service, I looked to others who had been in similar situations and were now experiencing success in civilian life. While being a part of the Navy had limited my ability to job hunt and network with others early in my career, I was able to lean upon the same men and women I had looked up to in the past who, again, helped me to get where I am today. From that time forward, I have tried to return the favor to newly transitioning veterans by sharing my transition story and offering advice. This has become even easier through impressive organizations like Operation Homefront and others which which I am involved in.Corporate Run

Pride in Service – CSX’s initiative to honor and serve this nation’s military, veterans and first responders – has offered a consistent opportunity for me to jump in and help out. I’m just one of more than 3,500 other veterans, active military and first responders who have chosen to work at CSX. This initiative has instilled a sense of pride and purpose in employees across our 23-state footprint. I’m sure I speak not just for myself, when I say I’m committed to carrying on the cycle of giving back to others who continue to serve our country and our communities. The opportunity Operation Homefront and our other four Pride in Service nonprofit partners provide for us to continue to serve others, while thanking them for their services is invaluable.

At CSX, “pride in service” is something we all share, because the rail industry is part of the backbone of America. Moving essential supplies is our business, and our mission is now more critical than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a company and as individuals, we are pouring our passion into supporting military families that may be separated from loved ones and first responders who are on today’s frontlines of the pandemic. I’m honored to be part of a community that so closely aligns with the sense of pride I felt serving our country day in and day out. To me, whether through CSX or with the comrades I made in the Navy, giving back will always be a part of my being.

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