How our employees serve our country – and our company
Nov 11, 2019

The many sacrifices our employees who have served our nation or are currently serving are countless, and NextEra Energy is dedicated to building and sustaining the company’s history of supporting those employees.

Zachary Melda, NextEra Energy Resources project director, development is one of those employees. Zachary enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2006 as an armor crewman, and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. After his return, he went to Fort McClelland in Alabama, where he was recommended for officer candidate school. He was commissioned in late 2010 as a second lieutenant and assigned as a fire support officer in a heavy weapons company. In 2014, Zachary got the opportunity to attend the captains career course in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, after which he was given command of an artillery unit of six howitzers and roughly 75 soldiers, with which he deployed to Afghanistan from October 2018 to July 2019. 

The military instills valuable traits and skills into those who serve such as service to others, teamwork and a diligent work ethic.

“In the military, I learned early on how important teamwork is as I trained for being a tank crewman,” said Zachary. “As an individual, you can accomplish a lot, but as a team you can do so much more. The military also teaches you how to make decisions under pressure and with limited information.”  

Every day we witness these characteristics in our team members who have served, and it is reflected in NextEra Energy’s company values of being committed to excellence, doing the right thing and treating people with respect.

“The culture at NextEra Energy has always been one of teamwork and moving toward a common goal. I knew I wanted to work here after the first meeting I had with the company at a veteran MBA convention in Nashville, Tennessee," said Zachary. “Knowing that I am part of a team that is depending on me to do my best is what helps motivate me each and every day I come to work.”

At NextEra Energy, giving back to the communities we serve is part of our core value of doing the right thing. Giving back through community service efforts and charitable donations is another way our employees serve our country.

Sophia Eccleston, FPL external affairs manager, served four years in the military as a logistics specialist, stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, and Savannah, Georgia. She also supported the peace keeping mission in Bosnia.

Now, she serves as president of the board for the Homeless Coalition that advocates and provides funding for the homeless in Palm Beach County, including veterans.

“I believe that we have a duty to help serve those who have served us,” said Sophia. “It pains me when I see veterans on the streets begging for help. That should not happen in this country. These are men and women who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for us.”

She also served on the board of the Wounded Veterans Relief Fund, volunteered with Habitat for Humanity to help build veteran homes, and supported veterans' organizations through sponsorships and donations. Most recently, Sophia was appointed to the Florida Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission.

“I enjoy working at FPL because, similar to the military, we care about our customers and always do the right thing. During a storm, my military training definitely shines through when it comes to preparedness and working long hours to ensure our customers' needs are met.”

Millions of service members put their lives on the line and fulfill vital roles for America each year. It’s also important to remember that a significant number of these service members have family members who travel with them and make sacrifices along the way.

Jo-Ann Clynch, FPL power delivery resource optimization center manager, has a father who served in the U.S. Air Force. James is a disabled veteran, past department commander of Connecticut's Disabled American Veterans (DAV) Association, past chair for the DAV Homeless Initiative and continues to serve on behalf of veterans locally, statewide and nationwide. Each Christmas, James travels to Florida and joins Jo-Ann at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center, where she volunteers regularly throughout the year to help veterans. Jo-Ann also advocates for veterans as a volunteer and board member of the ALS Association of Florida. 

“I am very grateful for my father and other veterans who have sacrificed so that we can experience our freedoms as Americans,” said Jo-Ann. “I’m also humbled by the sacrifices veterans have made, and feel immense gratitude.”

Jo-Ann says that her father lives and leads by example. His core values of duty, honor and service, while never leaving his comrades or family behind, are the many qualities he taught her while growing up. In their family, helping others was just a normal part of life and she admires his focus on what he has versus what he lost. She learned by example to integrate her father’s core values into her everyday life.

“I have learned to embrace challenges and not shy away from difficult situations in my personal and professional life," said Jo-Ann. "I’ve also learned the power of a team is greater than one individual, but the power of one individual’s voice can inspire a team. In my current role, I am excited to work with a great team to deliver productivity improvements for our business unit and company.”

Today, and every day, we thank veterans across the U.S. for their sacrifice and service.

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