For more than three decades, Pragmatics has significantly benefited from hiring veterans due to their dedication to mission, plus their unique skills and experience in varied tasks and responsibilities. Here at Pragmatics, our professional staff with military experience find that their skills have straightforward applications in client services for our customers.
In honor of 2019 Veterans Day, let’s meet Don Schaefer, the Vice President/ General Manager of Defense & Intelligence, to learn how his military service experience successfully helped him transfer to the civilian workforce, and more importantly, why veterans love working at Pragmatics.
What was the branch of your service? What was your responsibility during your service?
I joined the U.S. Navy as an enlisted intelligence analyst. Upon completion of Intelligence Analysis School, where I focused on multispectrum image and multi-Source intelligence analysis, I was sent to the aircraft carrier USS Midway, home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan. I was assigned to the A-6 Attack Squadron 115 where I worked on the Mission Planning Team, as well as becoming a member of the Midway’s Intelligence Division, which provided intelligence reporting to the 7th Fleet and National Agencies. My next duty station with the Navy was at Joint Intelligence Center, Pacific (JICPAC) in Hawaii, where I led the Current Exploitation Support Team and performed mission planning work for SEAL teams. While working at JICPAC, I also attended night school where I finished my degree, met and married my wife Coni. Upon leaving the Navy for a system engineering position at GE Aerospace, I was awarded a Direct Commission as a US Naval Intelligence Officer in the Reserves.
After four years and twenty-nine days, I exited the Navy as an enlisted Petty Officer, First Class; and then was nominated for and was awarded one of only 4 open slots for a Direct Commission as a U.S. Naval Intelligence Officer in the Reserves for two more years. I finally completed my service as a Naval Officer, Lieuntent Junior Grade (JG).
How did your military experience and its related qualities influence your career path?
My U.S. Navy experience as an Intelligence Analyst and then as an Intelligence Officer provided me with 100% of my career beginnings. I successfully landed my first job with GE Aerospace due to my knowledge and experience with intelligence analysis processes and the systems and data that I acquired in the military. From there, I built upon my experience and skills to where I am today. Had I to do it all over again?... I would follow the same path I did so many years ago.
>> Learn More About Don's Career Path
Why do you think veterans love Pragmatics?
Ability to continue the mission: Veterans come to Pragmatics because we are still able to be involved in some way with helping our Country’s mission regardless if it is for defense, intelligence, or civil organizations. It’s the mission that is important.
New experience and possibilities: Pragmatics offers veterans specific functional domains to further increase our experience and skills. For instance, when I left the military and went to work for GE Aerospace, I wanted to learn and gain experience in System Engineering. That is key to veterans entering the workforce — continue our education and to gain experience in areas that interest us.
Don joined Pragmatics as Vice President in July 2019.
What advice would you offer to someone seeking for new opportunities?
I HIGHLY recommend the service to any young men and women who have not made up their minds about what type of profession they would like to pursue for the rest of their lives.
When I left high school, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career. I started in Engineering School at first and then went on to a dual major in International Politics and History as I thought I would become a lawyer, but then later changed to Business Administration. Unfortunately, none of those professions actually interested me.
Additionally, my parents could not afford my full college tuition at that time, so I was taking a full load of courses while working two jobs to pay my way through Penn State University. This eventually made me exhausted. Finally, my last year in college, as I was really confused about what to do, and was tired of working so hard taking classes in areas that didn't interest me, I decided to join the service.
Looking back on my past, joining the military is one of the best decisions I ever made. The military gives everyone a chance to prove yourself on your own merits, it teaches you both technical and life lessons, and it provides you with a great feeling of giving back — doing something for your country.
Don enjoys golfing, a hobby he recently took up, snow skiing and traveling with family.