Veterans continue to serve us every day | Guest column

  • Tuesday, November 7, 2017 9:57pm
  • Opinion

Every November, we honor our military veterans. What we sometimes overlook is that many veterans, after serving our country, return home to serve our communities in a variety of ways.

Leo Holte is a Waste Management driver serving neighborhoods throughout Snoqualmie. He served five years in the U.S. Marines, holding a variety of positions, including quality control and truck inspection – focus areas that were key to his platoon’s ability to perform with reliable and safe results.

“The military taught me how important discipline and procedure are for keeping people safe,” Leo said. “That experience still influences how I approach each day.”

Leo’s military service also provided hands-on experience as part of an effective, efficient team.

“The military taught me the importance of “no man left behind,” Leo said. “I feel a sense of camaraderie with the people I work with. We’re committed to working together to do what it takes to serve the customer.”

Leo’s safety training and team mentality are assets to communities where he drives every day. Because Leo takes a safe and watchful approach to his work, the communities he serves are safer and stronger.

In fact, Leo and his WM teammates working in Snohomish and King counties have completed special Waste Watch training so they can serve as extra “eyes and ears” for community safety.

WM’s Waste Watch program trains drivers to observe and report anything unusual along their routes. It could be smoke coming from an attic or a front door wide open at 5 am. WM drivers know their routes inside and out – so when they see something unusual, they report to law enforcement. As a result, WM drivers have helped save lives and solve crimes across the country and right here in our community.

For Leo, children are another important part of his community connection.

“My favorite part of the job is seeing the kids,” he said. “They get really excited when they see the shiny green trucks collecting on their streets. It feels good to make kids smile while I’m providing an essential service to the community.”

When it comes to hiring drivers to serve WM communities, Jeff McMahon, Leo’s supervisor and senior district manager for Waste Management, sees a military background as a strong asset for both WM and the community. And McMahon should know; he sends more than 200 drivers out on the road each day.

“Veterans bring the skills and disciplined approach that we need,” McMahon said. “That’s why Waste Management is one of the nation’s top employers of veterans, and why one of every 14 WM employees is a veteran, spouse of a vet or current reservist.”

“They add tremendous value to our teams, as leaders and role models with an unwavering focus on safety, teamwork and community.”

Michelle Metzler is Waste Management’s recycling education and outreach manager. Learn more at

More in Opinion

Bring some green into your spring cleaning

Sure, there’s been rain, snow and hail lately, but believe it or… Continue reading

Unfinished stories, many thanks and new responsibilities | Farewell Column

Good-bye everybody. This is my last column for the Valley Record. It’s… Continue reading

In defense of Petzold and critical thinking | Letter

I was born in 1947, and yes, my generation has failed the… Continue reading

‘Partisan’ letter highlights the division in the U.S. | Letter

I thank David Stevens for his letter attacking Chris Petzold because it… Continue reading

King County Libraries are among the busiest in the nation | Guest Column

Every spring, King County Library System presents its annual report to the… Continue reading

WNPA responds to legislator’s emergency passage of public disclosure exemption | Opinion

The Washington Newspaper Publishers Association is deeply disturbed by the Legislature’s action… Continue reading

School shooting inspires a new take on Niemöller’s ‘First they came’ | Letter

First they shot up Columbine High School. But I didn’t say anything because I didn’t live there, and I love my gun.

Hope springs from Florida school shooting, in youth movement | Letter

There is a sliver of hope amidst the utter gloom of the… Continue reading

If our leaders won’t change gun laws, it’s time to change our leaders| Letter

I couldn’t sleep last Wednesday. I tossed and turned, the images of… Continue reading

King County wasn’t named for Dr. King, but renamed | Letter

While perusing your website, I came across a headline (Martin Luther King’s… Continue reading