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Honoring those who serve and continue to serve our country

We spoke with our colleague Gaston Perez about his experiences in the service, and how it adds purpose to his work here at Haven Life.

We at Haven Life are grateful for all those who have served and sacrificed for our country and especially for those who have brought their experiences to their work at Haven Life. One such veteran is Gaston Perez, our production manager, who was a lance corporal, communications, in the Marines, serving during Desert Storm. With both Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day on the horizon, we spoke with Gaston about his experiences, and how it adds purpose to his work here at Haven Life. Here’s what he told us.

The transition remains a challenge

Was the transition to civilian life hard? “It’s still hard,” says Gaston. “I’m out almost 30 years, and to this day I still have a bluntness about me — I don’t have time to lollygag.” While those who work alongside Gaston appreciate his help-everyone, team-oriented side, he says he retains a more direct style of communication from his days in the service. “It’s like that old saying, ‘The most direct route is straight ahead,’” he says.

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The lessons learned aren’t always obvious

Another challenge when transitioning to civilian life is not knowing what you’re qualified to do. “When we leave the military, most of us don’t fully see everything we were taught in the service that will help us in civilian life,” says Gaston. “There’s very little training on becoming a civilian again. A lot of guys think they should go into some kind of law enforcement or security — they think, ‘That’s what I was trained to do.’ And they’re not wrong, but there are so many other things you’ve learned that you don’t realize.”

Asked for an example, he mentions someone he went to bootcamp with. “He ended up doing 20 years in the service, and when he got out he’d been running recruitment for the entire Eastern Seaboard,” Gaston says. “He pinged me and said, ‘I’m retiring, I don’t know what I’ll do.’ I said ‘Dude, you ran recruitment.’ Every HR department would want someone who knows how to manage a couple of hundred thousand people.’ There are a lot of guys who don’t realize the breadth of skills you develop in the military: No one’s ever explained it to them.”

"There are a lot of guys who don’t realize the breadth of skills you develop in the military: No one’s ever explained it to them."

—Gaston Perez, Production Manager at Haven Life

There’s nothing he can’t handle

Gaston was fortunate enough to have discovered how many transferable skills he learned in the military. For veterans like him, military service has some major benefits in the civilian workplace.

Gaston is responsible for making sure Haven Life’s production infrastructure is always up and running. It’s a stressful job that requires calm under pressure, which is something he learned in the Marine Corps.

He recalls an experience at a past job. “I worked in finance for a few years and when something goes down people panic because it’s millions of dollars every second,” he says. “People get loud, everybody starts yelling.” Gaston was able to resolve the issue “while remaining cool and calm,” which one of the senior staff mistook for a lack of dedication and focus:

“We don’t appreciate that,” Gaston was told. He explained that “‘Just because I’m not panicking doesn’t mean I’m not working.’ Gaston was able to maintain his composure and resolve the outage, and he attributes this grace under pressure to lessons learned in the service.

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The 7 Ps

The military is big on acronyms. Although the 7 Ps – Proper Planning and Practice Prevents Piss-Poor Performance – come from the British army, the idea also applies to the Marines. One reason Gaston is able to be calm under pressure is that Marines spend a huge amount of time preparing and making sure their equipment is ready, which is a habit he brought with him to civilian life.

“When you think about the Marines, you don’t think ‘cleaning crew,’” he says, “but you spend a ton of time cleaning. Everything is always immaculate. Our weapons, our gear, our beds, everything. It has to be, because when you go to use your equipment it’s never ‘Hold on, could you wait a second, I need to clean this.’ You always need to be ready for anything at any stage. You have to always be prepared. There is a definite correlation between that and my job at Haven Life. In the current job you’re always trying to think, ‘If this happens, what could I do to better be prepared for it?’ Knowing that if you’re not prepared, things can go bad quickly both in the military and in what we do today, I’m always very cautious. I like to have things documented and I like to have a plan: it’s very methodical.”

Cultural appreciation

The military prepared Gaston for another aspect of Haven Life: its diversity. “In the military, I got to go overseas, visit many different cultures, learn about them and also respect them,” he says. “I have a deep appreciation for everybody’s cultures and beliefs because there’s a big world out there, and it’s not just about what I know here. Haven Life is multinational and we have every kind of religion – Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs… It’s about realizing that the differences we all have make us great, and learning to understand why people do what they do and the history behind it. It’s really cool. When you understand people’s different religions and cultures it removes a lot of hate, which we could all use right now.”

"I have a deep appreciation for everybody’s cultures and beliefs because there’s a big world out there, and it’s not just about what I know here."

—Gaston Perez, Production Manager at Haven Life

Getting it done

Gaston says Haven Life and the Marine Corps have at least one thing in common. “Most guys in the military, we’re all about ‘Get the job done. It doesn’t matter how you do it, get it done.’ A lot of civilian places don’t want that, but it’s awesome at Haven Life because one of our mottos is ‘Just f-ing do it.’ I appreciate that here everyone plows ahead to get the job done, and we come back and talk about it later. We have awesome technology and some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. We all work to make things better. What more could you want?”

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About Michael Davis

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Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus.html

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