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Making a Difference through Service: A Veteran’s Path from the Navy to USDA

Posted by Mariela Castaneda, Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement in Initiatives
Aug 01, 2023
Michael Reese in front of the USDA South Building entrance

Virginia native Michael Reese wanted to see the world, meet new people, and secure funding for college. Following in the footsteps of his father and brother, he served in the United States Navy for 30 years from 1989 to 2019.

After his military retirement, Michael connected with USDA Military Veterans Agricultural Liaison (MVAL) Monshi “Ram” Ramdass. Part of USDA’s Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement, the MVAL assists veterans looking to learn about employment, education and entrepreneurship on or beyond the farm.

“I asked Ram how one gets a job with the USDA, and his response was, ‘send me your resume’,” Michael said. He did, and Ram helped him navigate the hiring process, ultimately resulting in a rewarding new career.

Today Michael is a travel and transportation specialist with Rural Development. “If not for Ram and his network, I would not be in this position,” he said.

The skills Michael gained in his military career serve him well in his new position, and it didn’t take him long to start making an impact. He has helped develop strategies for managing the USDA fleet of approximately 600 vehicles across the country, an effort that resulted in a 25% fleet reduction and a cost savings of over $325,000 annually, earning recognition from USDA leadership. He is currently working to replace USDA’s vehicle fleet with zero emission vehicles by 2027.

“Michael has been an incredible asset to the Rural Development Transportation Section since he first arrived,” said Lead Travel & Transportation Specialist Brian Sloane. “His military career prepared him well to lead projects, meet with senior leadership, and coordinate at all levels. I would ask that any USDA offices consider hiring a veteran, as military service most often includes an array of duties alongside the primary job.”

With the MVAL’s help, Michael has been able to transition from a high-impact military to civilian career, and he encourages other veterans to seek similar opportunities. “Network with other veterans and people you don’t know,” he said. “It all ties together to make the whole USDA move forward. It’s amazing what we do across the board, so continue to tap into the resources you have as a veteran and use them every day.”

USDA welcomes veterans like Michael and the many skills they can bring to the agency. Email or visit USDA’s veterans information page for information about employment, education and entrepreneurship.

Category/Topic: Initiatives