Jon Smedley

Served in the Navy
from 1989 - 2016

When were you drafted or when did you enlist?

I enlisted in the Navy in September 1989.


Why did you choose your branch of service?

I chose the Navy because they were the service that would “guarantee” me a job. My uncle is an Army vet and strongly encouraged me to make sure I knew what I was signing up for.


What do you remember about that day?

There were academic tests that I had to score high enough to qualify for the program I was interested in. I was not a great student back in those days, so I was nervous and excited. It was time for me to grow up and start a life of my own, something I was very proud to be starting with this decision.


Can you describe a happy moment from your time in the service?

I have may fond memories. Helping my fellow sailors grow and develop is at the top of my list, along with seeing so much of the world through deployments and other travel.


Did your military experience inform the way you think about war or the military in general?

My time in the military did inform the way I think about war and the military. Being a part of the amazing organization and knowing what we are truly capable of is impressive. As much as I would hate to see any of my brother or sisters in arms suffer the pains of war, I am confident we are the best prepared, and I believe this is the best deterrent to conflict.


Who was your best friend in the military during your time at war? Do you still keep in touch with them today?

Over my long career I had a few “best friends”. I am in touch with most of them, and we enjoy comparing notes about the good and the hard times.


Remembering the Fallen: If they are no longer with us, please share a small way in which you remember them or keep their spirit alive– whether that be a funny story, a heroic moment, or something different that might seem trivial to others, but holds importance to you.

I have been very lucky in that I did not lose any of my shipmates while on active duty. However, I was honored to be the Casualty Assistance Calls Officer for a few families of the USS COLE (DDG-67) survivors. This experience has left a strong impression on me; I know the sacrifices we all made. All gave some, some gave all, and I keep sacred the holidays and anniversaries as time to reflect, remember and honor.


What were the first few months out of the service like?

My first few months after leaving the service, I felt anxious. After being part of the military family for so long, it was odd to be “on my own”. Up early, for a job that did not start until 9 am, left me feeling like I was not focused. After speaking with my mentors, I learned it was important to align my activities with my personal goals, and I was able to put some idle time to good use, maintaining my PT routine and staring graduate studies.


Do you have advice for those transitioning out of the military?

My advice to those transitioning is to strengthen and define your network. Keep your ears and eyes open and don’t be afraid of the help that others offer. Organizations that offer help to veterans are often underutilized because we don’t ask for or accept their help. Identify mentors, get connected and keep your head up!


If you hadn’t gone into the service, what do you imagine your career life would have been? Did you explore a different career after service?

If I had not entered the service, I am not sure where I would be. Like I said, I was a poor student, and not mature enough to go to college, so I am appreciative that I had the opportunity to serve. In my post military career, I have leveraged the experience and training gained on active duty to start my own business, grow a thriving consulting firm, and go back to school to earn my Executive MBA.


Please add any additional stories or meaningful memories that you’d like to share.

Throughout my years in the Military, I met amazing and wonderful people from around the world. The military family was always there for me, taking excellent care of my family and me. Their care and support were especially evident when there were personal challenges in my life.