Veterans find home at Chevron Richmond Refinery

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Jeanne Barker set out to conduct an experiment at the Chevron Richmond Refinery on Wednesday.

The Chevron business/systems analyst asked a room filled with Refinery employees to stand up if they were military members. A handful stood. After they received a long applause, Barker asked the spouses of military members to stand. A few more employees stood. Finally, those with any family member involved in the military were asked to stand.

“So, that’s almost 100-percent of the people in the room,” said Barker, who helps run the Refinery’s Veterans Network.

At 1.29 million members, the U.S. military makes up less than .05-percent of the nation’s population, according to the Council on Foreign Relations. But when you look at the fuels and petrochemicals industry, the percentage is far higher. That’s because military veterans find a home at companies like Chevron, where discipline and commitment to process and safety are highly sought skillsets.

On Wednesday in advance of Veteran’s Day, the Chevron Veterans Network held one of its regular events at the Richmond Refinery with the aim of assembling employees both with and without military connections. The idea is to showcase the value that veterans bring to the company, to support active duty members and to conduct outreach to employees who may know qualified military members looking for jobs.

Chevron conducts robust outreach to get veterans to work for the company. Aside from posting job ads or attending job fairs targeting military members, it has an online “Military Skills Translator” that searches for Chevron jobs that match an applicant’s military experience. At the high level, Chevron aims to become “the employer of choice” for qualified veterans, particularly in recognition of military members “commitment to teamwork and safety.”

“The Marine Corp., and the military [in general], teaches you skills you don’t always see in the civilian workforce,” said Gregg Bernardo, a process advisor for the Chevron Richmond Fire Department.

Bill Boorujy, an engineering manager at the Richmond Refinery, said his experience in the U.S. Navy “got me started at Chevron.” He took the Navy’s “second-to-none” nuclear power training program. What normally takes three years to learn in college, the U.S. Navy taught in six months, he said.

“And they definitely know how to make you learn it and remember it,” Boorujy said.

After completing the six month program, Boorujy said he was transported to Idaho, where the Navy had him working on a prototype, which basically meant operating a plant.

“You get to do all the jobs,” Boorujy said.

 “The military is obviously very structured, a lot of discipline, a lot of chain of command, a lot of commitment to procedures and process,” said Bill Herbert, also a US Navy veteran and currently a Control Systems Team Lead at the Refinery.

A network of support

Veterans Network events such as Wednesday’s are one method of outreach to current and future employees. While the Veteran’s Network has existed at Chevron for years, the Richmond Refinery’s branch is just two years old.

Barker, who volunteered to run the Veterans Network at the Refinery because her son serves in the U.S. Navy, says it’s an important addition. With the help of regular events at the Refinery, workers can feel both supported and connected to community resources specifically for them.

“We help educate our workforce about veterans, the military services, and the value they add for us,” Barker said.

The Veterans Network is also a way Chevron employees can band together to help military members in need.

On Wednesday, a packaging party was held as part of an effort to ship items donated by employees to military members in active duty.

This particular event, however, served a more somber function. A Chevron Richmond Refinery employee who served in the Marine Corps. suffered a serious brain injury in a motorcycle accident near his home on Sept. 29. He died on Oct. 13.

Mike McNeill became an operator at Chevron in 2015 after completing the Regional Occupational Program, or ROP. He leaves behind his wife and three children.

A celebration of his life is set for Friday, Nov. 16, in Dixon. See the flyer for more information.

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