Wednesday, November 11 is Veterans Day and here in San Diego, it’s likely that you know a veteran – a family member, friend, neighbor or coworker – who would appreciate a “Thank you” and being asked about their service.

Want to do more? You can donate to or volunteer with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), Operation Homefront or the Wounded Warrior Project.

If you’re an employer, hire a veteran. At Helix, we hire veterans because the military teaches strong teamwork, problem-solving and adaptability skills and these are critical skills when you are operating a water treatment plant, repairing a broken water main or troubleshooting an IT issue.

We have 15 veterans on staff from the Army, Navy and Marines, and two on our Board of Directors. Board President Mark Gracyk served as an enlisted engineer in the Army, and Division 1 Director Dan McMillan served as a first lieutenant in the Marines and as a company commander in the California National Guard.

We asked Helix Meter Services Field Representative Sam Pacheco, who was in the Marine Corps for 20 years, what he likes about working at a water district. He said, “As a veteran, you serve your country and serve in a team environment – you get up every day with a job to do. The water industry has a lot of parallels. I quickly realized that the people who work here, and the water industry as a whole, are committed and professional.”

Helix Administrative Assistant Rita Mooney, who was in the Army for three years, echoed Pacheco. “There is a feeling I had, especially when serving overseas, that fellow soldiers were kind of like family. We were in it together.  There is a similar feeling at Helix. People do truly care about each other and support each other. There is a feeling of mission and pride and camaraderie.”

Hiring Veterans
A video from the Center for Water Studies at Cuyamaca College

 Why Veterans Should Consider a Career in Water

In October 2019, Governor Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 1588, which requires that the State of California’s operator certification program for water and wastewater treatment plants and water distribution systems recognize the experience and education veterans acquire while they are in the military. Now veterans can sit for the appropriate certification exam based on their military experience so that they can more quickly transition into a civilian career with a water or wastewater utility.

This is important for utilities managing Baby Boomer retirements and a changing workforce. A task force organized by the San Diego County Water Authority found that water and wastewater utilities in the San Diego region employ about 4,500 people, and that about 1,400 of those people will likely retire by 2024.

Where Veterans Should Start

 A month ago, the water and wastewater agencies serving the San Diego region launched — a one-stop-shop for current water and wastewater job postings in the San Diego region. The site also features training and education resources, career advice, internship programs, and information specific to veterans.



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