Pete Bayer, area vice president for the northeast for Penske Logistics and a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Army, and Staff Sgt. Tony Rivera of the PA National Guard spoke to veterans Nov. 11 at a Veterans Day recognition event at Penske's headquarters in Reading, Pennsylvania.
For Pete Bayer, a 29-year veteran of the U.S. Army, Veterans Day is one of the most significant holidays of the year.
“It reminds me of how proud I am to be part of the proud lineage of the millions of Americans who chose to wear the uniform of our great country for over 240 years to defend America,” Bayer said. “We can all be inspired by their example of selfless service.”
But Bayer recognizes that veterans’ contributions don’t end when they take off their uniforms. They continue to make a difference as leaders in the workforce and in their local communities.
“Veterans understand the concept of service: to their nation, to their team and to their community,” said Bayer, who is now an area vice president for the northeast for Penske Logistics. “Service is the concept of giving more than you receive to another or others.”
Bayer was one of the speakers at a Veterans Day recognition program at Penske Truck Leasing’s corporate office in Reading, Pennsylvania. During his Army career prior to joining Penske, Bayer served four operational and combat tours in Kuwait and Iraq, including duty with the 3rd Infantry Division during the 2003 invasion of Iraq; command of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq in 2005, and service as Chief of Staff, I Corps and Multi-National Corps Iraq.
Veterans from Penske's headquarters in Reading, Pennylvania, and nearby Reading and Lehigh district locations
Penske employs more than 1,800 veterans at locations across the United States, including 75 associates in Reading. So far this year, 38 associates have been on military leave, including 11 who are still serving.
Bayer said that service provides veterans with five key characteristics that empower them to become valuable contributors to the workforce: the ability to believe in and be part of something larger than themselves, the concept of service, the importance of character, living a life based on values, and an aptitude for leadership.
He said leadership is the ability to create an outcome for a team that is greater than the sum of its parts. “Veterans as leaders make two plus two equal six,” Bayer said. “Veterans are intrinsically geared with a can-do attitude: the belief that they and their team can accomplish anything.”
“We appreciate the values, work ethic and leadership skills veterans bring as associates to our teams,” said Mike Duff, senior vice president of government relations and chief compliance officer for Penske.
He noted that for the fifth consecutive year, Penske was recognized as a Top 100 Military Friendly Employer by Victory Media, which publishes G.I. Jobs and Military Spouse magazines. Last year, 14 percent of new Penske hires were veterans.
Duff recently attended an event where Penske received a Mission: ABLE Award from the Paralyzed Veterans of America. The award recognizes Penske’s #OneWay4PVA program, in which customers can donate $1 when renting a one-way moving truck and Penske matches each donation. Since 2013, the effort has raised more than $870,000 to ensure that disabled veterans have access to health care, benefits and jobs.
“It was truly humbling to be in a room with so many veterans who have given so much to protect the safety of our country,” Duff said. “Thank you to all our veterans and Reserve and National Guard members. We are grateful for your years of service and dedication protecting our country!”
Penske’s Veterans Day program also included an address from Staff Sgt. Tony Rivera of the PA National Guard, who served two tours of duty in Iraq. During his second deployment, he was wounded when a bomb ripped through his vehicle. Rivera received the Purple Heart, and he also received the Army’s Soldier of the Year Award at the 71st Liberty USO Gala in Philadelphia.
Rivera, who works as a manager at a defense contracting company, said people often ask him why he continues to serve. “Because I love my country,” he said. “To wake up in the morning and know that freedom is all around me … is what I’m most thankful for.”
By Steve Trapnell