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Friday, November 24 Business

Veterans at United Rentals ready to serve country and company

Military veterans at United Rentals have not forgotten about their service — nor has their employer.

Even many years after active duty, time in the armed forces remains a reference point for executives who have served. As they reflect on their experience on Veterans Day, they said they apply in their work at the world’s largest equipment-rental company the lessons they learned while in uniform. They are also determined to help fellow veterans in their organization and in other communities.

“In the military, they taught me you can accomplish almost anything,” said Rick DeReinzi, United Rentals’ leadership development manager, who served five years on Army active duty as an infantry officer in the 1990s. “Every position I’ve ever been in, I just go all out. I know I can get it all done because they give you a lot of responsibility in the military… Go ahead and put a task in front of me — because I know I’ve been challenged.”

Veterans in the workforce

In 2016, veterans comprised some 10.6 million members of the nation’s labor population, representing about 7 percent of the total, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Connecticut’s workforce included about 104,000 veterans, about 6 percent of the total.

Connecticut recorded a 4.4 percent veteran unemployment rate last year, compared with 5.1 percent for non-veterans.

Approximately 1,500 veterans work at Stamford-based United Rentals, representing about 10 percent of its workforce. The contingent spans branches and generations.

“You’ve got the mind-set and experience of being a part of a team and part of a group that hopefully is working toward the same goal,” said analyst and accountant Peter Munson, who served in the Navy from 1966 to 1970. “The cooperation and support of each other is important.”

Munson and other veterans are humble about their service; they said they do not think their credentials make them superior to their colleagues.

“My military experience; I don’t really think about it,” said director of financial reporting Liam O’Driscoll, who served two years in the Navy, with deployments around the Pacific Rim, after enlisting as an 18-year-old in 1992. “I came here as a CPA.”

But veterans said they appreciate the company’s recognition of the armed forces. On Veterans Day last year, the company held a call-in forum for former service members. The event will be held again Friday.

“They make it clear that your role as a veteran is valued,” O’Driscoll said.

Support for veterans

The company runs a Veterans United resource group for former service members. In addition, it makes contributions and deploys volunteers to veterans-focused nonprofits such as the Fisher House Foundation and SoldierStrong.

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“We’re there to support and get information out to our veteran population, as well as support veterans in our communities,” said DeReinzi, who reached the rank of captain after deployments in South America and southeast Asia.

United continues to expand its veterans programming. Last year, it launched an initiative in which every new hire who has served in the armed forces receives a welcoming packet — memorabilia includes a United military coin — and an introductory call from a United employee in the Veterans United group.

With such outreach, United aims to add to its ranks of long-serving veterans. DeReinzi has worked at the company since 2010; Munson joined in 2007, O’Driscoll was hired in 2001.

“It’s really just a ‘Hey, if you need anything, here’s a contact,’” DeReinzi said of the new program. “If you need to talk about something, if you’re having any issues, if you’re having questions you can’t seem to get answered, anything’s on the table. ... The ones I call are very appreciative and sometimes seem a bit shocked somebody reached out and welcomed them to United Rentals. I think they’re a little surprised — in a good way.”

pschott@scni.com; 203-964-2236; twitter: @paulschott

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