Military Vets and the CCSO – First their Country now their County

For as long as he can remember, Lt. Gary Martin wanted a career in law enforcement. He joined the Air Force right after high school. After six years as a military police officer in North Dakota, where his duties involved the security and transportation of nuclear warheads and missiles, he took a job with his hometown sheriff ’s office in Indiana. It seemed to him like a natural transition. The path ultimately led him to the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office in 2001

After 21 years in the Navy, CCSO Special Details Coordinator Edyth Bird says a second career with a law enforcement agency was never on her radar. She returned to Naples following her retirement and was encouraged to seek employment at CCSO by current members at the time. “Seventeen years later, it was the best decision I’ve ever made,” said Bird, who joined the CCSO in 2002.

Like Lt. Martin and Coordinator Bird, veterans come from various military occupations that all bring unique value to the mission of the Collier County Sheriff ’s Office, which includes service to the community by investigating crimes, running an emergency communications center, operating the Naples Jail Center and managing courthouse security. “You’ve dealt with a paramilitary structure, so you understand
how that works,” Lt. Martin said. “Military people are problem-solvers whether it’s in combat, replacing or repairing jet engines. They are constantly solving problems on the fly. And that’s what we do in law enforcement. We go out and stand in people’s living rooms and they tell us a problem and we have to figure out how to fix it without asking anyone to help us.”

Nearly 30 percent of the agency’s current workforce are military veterans. CCSO offers veterans preference while vetting job candidates.
“We are extremely proud to have 291 military veterans working for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office,” said Sheriff Kevin Rambosk.
To honor the military service of agency members, Sheriff Rambosk created the CCSO Military Service Award. The award is presented to agency members who have served in the United States military and have been honorably discharged upon completion of their service as recognized by a DD214 form.

The Sheriff unveiled the award on November 11, Veterans Day. “Although the debt to the heroic men and women that have meritoriously  served our country can never be repaid, I have authorized the creation of this award as a way for the agency to express our undying gratitude and to recognize our veteran members for the sacrifices that they have made for our country and continue to make to our community,” Sheriff Rambosk said.

Lt. Martin returned to the Air Force in 2004 following the tragic events of September 11, 2001. He retired as a master sergeant, serving a total of 22 years. He is currently assigned to Patrol as the Golden Gate commander. “The military made me the kind of by-the-book, very
regimented person that I am,” he said. “If you do something wrong, it’s dangerous to everyone. Any time you are dealing with nuclear
warheads and the security of them, everything is by the book, by the numbers. Everything has a place. You don’t cut any corners.”

Coordinator Bird served in the Navy from 1981 to 2002, primarily as a western Pacific sailor, doing tours in California, Guam, Japan and Texas. She retired as a Chief Aerographer’s Mate (aviation warfare). Much of her career was spent collecting, recording and analyzing meteorological and oceanographic data. She prepared weather maps, issued weather forecasts and warnings, and conducted weather  briefings. She served as typhoon duty forecaster and chief petty officer in charge of a weather detachment. She has put her military
meteorological skills to good use at the CCSO. “Graphics, charts and briefing packets are a large part of any good weather forecast and I have been able to incorporate those skills into a myriad of areas at CCSO,” she said.

When the weather turns bad and everyone stays home, Coordinator Bird heads to the office. “That is just a normal day as a weather forecaster and boy, did that lifestyle follow me into a civilian career with CCSO,” she said. “As a part of the Emergency Management Team and housed in the Command Center during hurricane activation, we have all packed our bags to ride out the storm.” While stationed at the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC) in Monterey, California, one of her jobs was to prepare the tropical weather forecast advisory and storm tracks.

One of her functions on the CCSO Emergency Management Team is take the current warnings and forecast discussion and disseminate that information to members for both personal and operational planning. “The most difficult part is trying not to speak “Navy AG” and use civilian terminology,” she said.

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