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Military Appreciation Month: Hearing From Those Who Served

Serving in the military is an honorable occupation that can take a person many places, whether overseas or within one’s home country. For veterans like Director of Talent Acquisition David Jobes and Digital Operations Senior Agent Calvin Mellish, the U.S. military brought them to a new career path in the corporate world, working at PRA Group. We are proud to have former service members among our workforce, and we value their contributions to the armed forces.

In celebration of Military Appreciation Month, we sat down with Mellish and Jobes to hear reflections from their time in the military and discuss their career journey.

Q&A with Calvin Mellish, Chief Petty Officer, USN Retired

Take us through an overview of your time and tours in the U.S. military.

I served in the U.S. Navy for over 24 years, participating in over 13 seagoing shipboard deployments and countless land-based operations and exercises. Many of those were with joint U.S. forces, and some with allies – others I can’t talk too much about.

While on active duty, I was deployed to the Western Pacific, Arabian Gulf, East China Sea, Indian Ocean, and more. My first experience in intense combat came in August 1988. I can’t get into all the details; however, this battle was considered the first major multi-surface ship combatant operation since the end of World War II.

I was deployed several times to the Caribbean Sea and the coast of Mexico, working with joint and multinational forces in support of pirating and drug trafficking control near Colombia. I also participated in Operation Desert Storm, the Liberation of Kuwait, Desert Shield, and many others. The early part of my career focused on navigation, radar detection and combat helicopter/fixed-wing aircraft control.

After my time on the big ships was complete and up until the end of my military career, I became primarily involved with more specialized Operational Mission Planning and national security/defense planning functions. I worked with several civilian governmental agencies such as Homeland Security, the CIA, FBI, DEA, Coast Guard, Naval Special Warfare, not to mention all the other branch services of the military, USN, Army, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, as well as many other allied countries. I have lost track of all the missions and operations with which I was involved.

What made you want to enlist?

Primarily honor. I joined the Navy not too long after graduating high school in, on Feb 17, 1987. I had a difficult upbringing – very violent and dysfunctional. I was one of the first men in my family to graduate high school, and I guess I wanted to escape the destructive cycle that I saw in so many of my family members.

I also love our country’s rich history. Growing up, my stepfather was also in the military, and we would occasionally visit him on the ships where he served. By the time I was getting ready to graduate high school, I realized I wanted to further explore other opportunities before going to college. I was also intrigued by the travel possibilities and benefits that would come from being in the armed forces.

How did your time in the military prepare you for your current career at PRA Group?

Being in the military teaches you discipline. You must do whatever it takes to get the job done and do it well. While what I am doing now does not compare to what I did then, the same basic principle applies. I strive every day to do my best to take care of the customers we have been entrusted to help. Like my time in the military – I try to go out of my way to serve them.

Tell us more about how the military took you around the world. Which international destination was your favorite?

I have set foot on nearly every continent on Earth except for Antarctica and Africa. Some of my favorite places are Hong Kong, Australia and Singapore. Singapore is one of the cleanest cities on Earth. Of the many times I was there, I never saw any graffiti or litter. There is little to no crime. They balance impressive multiculturalism with a strong sense of civic pride. Australia is also near the top of the list.

One of PRA Group’s philanthropic giving pillars is to support the military, veterans, and first responders. Is this commitment from your employer something you value?

Very much so. I am pleased to support organizations like America’s VetDogs, Equi-Vets, Semper Fi and the America’s Fund through PRA Group’s partnerships. Personally, I am also involved with Wounded Warriors and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and Disabled American Veterans (DAV).

What advice do you have for anyone considering military service?

Think hard and think twice before you do. There’s plenty of comradery and personal benefit, but the ultimate reason for joining the military, however, is to serve others – to consider others better than yourself and do what you can to ensure your fellow countryman’s safety and prosperity.

Memorial Day is coming up. Who do you remember this time of year? Anyone you served alongside?

Memorial Day is a time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice to serve our country and see her values continue so others can sleep soundly, worship as they please, go where they wish and do what they want. I have been to many countries where this luxury is not available to its citizens.

I have many friends who paid that ultimate price to serve. I often think of one shipmate in particular. We called him “Torbit” – I don’t know why, but it was a nickname that just stuck. He was fearless and did his best to take care of his people and those around him. While he did not lose his life in combat, the stress and other factors of the combat we experienced took a toll on him and he died by suicide. 

Q&A with David Jobes, Sergeant (E-5), US Marine Corps Veteran.

What made you want to enlist?

I was raised in a blue-collar family. My father owned his own construction business, and my mother managed the household. I never pictured myself following the traditional high school to college career path, so when recruiters visited my school, I decided to learn more about my options with the military.

The idea of traveling around the world and visiting places I had never seen was attractive to me. Although I went through basic training on the east coast, my first duty station was in San Diego, CA where I enjoyed venturing out into the world on my own.

How did your time in the military prepare you for your current career at PRA Group?

My military experience has not only impacted my job at PRA Group, but also my entire life and career progression. I lean heavily on the lessons I learned, as they relate to the professional world, and I use those principles to guide my leadership process.

One of PRA Group’s philanthropic giving pillars is to support the military, veterans, and first responders. Is this commitment from your employer something you value?

I am proud to see the level of giving that PRA Group participates in throughout the year. These nonprofits are successful because of generous donors, and it brings me joy knowing PRA Group is helping those organizations reach more veterans.

Of the organizations PRA Group supports, Semper Fi and the America’s Fund is nearest to me. Being a former Marine, it makes me proud to have a career with a company that contributes to the Fund’s success. Although the organization has expanded to include all branches, their founding members created the Fund specifically to support Marine Corps veterans and their families.

America’s VetDogs does amazing work as well. A few of my military friends have service dogs, and the impact those animals have on their owners’ lives is incredible to see. Last year, the organization presented to PRA Group about their mission and impact during Global Inclusion Week, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

What advice do you have for anyone considering military service? How about for those looking to leave the military to join the corporate world?

An individual should, first, research the branch they wish to join. Once that decision is made, they can begin selecting their career path within that branch.

Oh, and start running – and run a lot. Basic training involves an elevated level of physical fitness and being prepared ahead of time will significantly impact your success during basic training. A few branches are tougher than others (I may be a bit biased here), which goes back to doing your research.

Leaving the military comes down to having a plan. What is your plan for employment after you leave? Where do you plan to live? What benefits are you entitled to after you leave? These are all questions servicemembers should be asking themselves starting at least 12 months prior to their separation date.

It’s also never too early to start networking. I participate in mentoring and coaching programs with two organizations that assist veterans and transitioning service members with the skills necessary to achieve success during their employment search. Surprisingly enough, this was a challenge when I left the service over 10 years ago, and it is still a challenge today.

Memorial Day is coming up. How do you honor this time to remember those service members who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country?

I encourage everyone to take a moment out of their day to look up the stories of men and women who gave their life for our country to keep their legacies going for generations.


About PRA Group

As a global leader in acquiring and collecting nonperforming loans, PRA Group, Inc. returns capital to banks and other creditors to help expand financial services for consumers in the Americas, Europe and Australia. With thousands of employees worldwide, PRA Group companies collaborate with customers to help them resolve their debt. For more information, please visit www.pragroup.com.

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