For the U.S. Army, Special Forces Maintenance Officer Michael Rathbun was entrusted with keeping military vehicles and troops rolling safely and efficiently in a war zone.

Rathbun understood his mission and carried it out with precision and pride over 21 years of active duty, including five deployments to Iraq with stops in Europe and Asia. That skill set and field experience made Rathbun an ideal candidate for a team leader position at Waste Management. As WM’s area fleet support manager, Rathbun is now trusted with helping keep our people and communities safe. His job is to help every WM maintenance facility and the people who work there be as safe and efficient as possible. He leans hard on his military experience to get it done.

Rathbun’s job is to ensure all fleet facilities meet rigid, self-imposed standards and keep them there: Every truck in top running condition, every tool in its place, everyone working as a team with constant coaching and encouragement. Everything squared away. 

These demands are familiar to Rathbun and other veterans. They understand training, chain of command, and how the things they do every day can affect the safety and security of countless others depending on them.

That’s why veterans are recruited and highly valued at Waste Management.  One of every 14 WM employees is a veteran, a spouse of a vet, or a current reservist. 

Year after year, WM continues to earn recognition as one of the most veteran-friendly companies in the country. U.S. Veterans Magazine, Military Times, and Victory Media have repeatedly honored WM as a top military employer.

WM Area Fleet Director Aaron Alvarado, also a decorated combat veteran, found Rathbun through WM’s partnership with Warrior Transition Battalions, units designed to help veterans make their way back into civilian roles. It’s a program with proven results.

“Michael has been phenomenal,” Alvarado said. “He’s a super high-energy guy, great communicator, and has the kind of accountability you’d expect in someone with Michael’s military credentials.” 

It’s just a good fit. It’s about working hand in glove as a team to go the extra mile to make sure the drivers and communities are safe when the trucks hit the road. It’s about going above and beyond.

“The Army has also instilled the importance of exceeding expectations and always following up to ensure the level of service remains above expectations,” Rathbun said.

Rathbun is still exceeding expectations on a different front line with a different mission: to drive safety and efficiency for the trucks and teams that provide essential services to communities still adjusting to this new, pandemic way of life. WM and Rathbun are committed to making sure there are things you can depend on, even during uncertain times like these. 

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s education and outreach manager. Learn more about local job opportunities for military veterans at careers.wm.com.

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