Military Experience and a Caterpillar Career

Our employees are the backbone of Caterpillar’s success. They provide the innovative and diverse thinking we need to serve our customers. There are numerous benefits to hiring military veterans and spouses. Military service builds strong work ethic and discipline that can translate into a fulfilling and successful career at Caterpillar. We value the military community, and by leveraging each individual’s skills, abilities and experiences, Caterpillar employees can achieve superior business and personal results. Come build your skills and join a global company that’s helping our customers build a better, more sustainable world. 

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Soldier in front of Cat machine
AFSN: Armed Forces Support Network


Caterpillar’s Armed Forces Support Network (AFSN) employee resource group (ERG) created a mentorship program that pairs veterans with a member of the organization to assist with the translation of military skills and progress the mentee’s career. AFSN also partners with military organizations around the country to provide resources and community for veterans and their families.

“We’re passionate about everything our veteran community does. We’re committed to supporting veterans through their entire journey – including their transition into the corporate world and leadership development,” said Ernie Reyes, who served in the U.S. Marine Corps and Navy for 21 years before joining Caterpillar in 2016. Ernie is now a supply manager for North America and Europe and serves as the global chair of AFSN. He also sits on the advisory board for the Manufacturing Institute Heroes MAKE America program.


Military Affiliation: U.S. Marine Corps and Navy

How did your career bring you to Caterpillar and why was Caterpillar the best employer for you?

Where I grew up, Caterpillar has always been an iconic brand. Throughout my military career, I had the pleasure to operate and manage several Cat machines from construction equipment used in construction, demolition and breaching operations to electric power military installation and supplementing nuclear submarines as backup power generation. You could say I was surrounded and influenced throughout my career, so Caterpillar was a great fit for my post military career.

Does your military experience relate to your current role at Caterpillar? If so, how?

My military career prepared me to work in corporate America through extensive experience with operations, technical training, and working with cross-functional teams consisting of military and civilian workforce as well as diplomats. These experiences gave me the opportunity to add value to Caterpillar on day one, as I understood the need to work with a team to drive results by building highly energetic teams and doing the work that matters.

From your perspective, how and why do you believe Caterpillar benefits from hiring military veterans?

Strategic hiring of veterans can help bring stress tested, high performing individuals into our organization. Caterpillar can benefit from talent acquisition through reduced relocation costs, decreased onboarding training time and tax incentive opportunities that help protect bottom line results. Today, we have many individuals from all military backgrounds continuing to shatter glass ceilings with traditional roles and raise the level of performance. These are individuals that come with experience working in large matrix organizations, such as the US Department of Defense.

What would you say to a veteran candidate considering Caterpillar as their employer?

Caterpillar is a great company focused on winning the right way. I believe we have a culture similar to what a veteran and their spouse experience in the military community. The company supports the veteran community through employee resource groups and by sponsoring programs that bring veterans together to give back to the community and empower veterans to make a difference. Their leadership and real-world experiences are skills that will help them towards a rewarding career. 

Veteran Ernie

Military Affiliation: Air Force

How did your career bring you to Caterpillar and why was Caterpillar the best employer for you? 

I have spent over 18 years in the Air Force, either active duty or in the Air National Guard. When I decided to come to Caterpillar, I was filling an Active Guard Reserve (AGR) role in the Air National Guard which meant a lot of travel. Also, my children were getting older, and I decided I needed to make a change for my family. I joined Caterpillar in the hopes that I might find something new to challenge and provide progression in my professional life. Caterpillar was the best employer for me because of a supportive leadership team who utilized my aptitudes, experiences and skills gained from my service to thrive in this business.

Does your military experience relate to your current role at Caterpillar? If so, how?

While not directly, I do capitalize on the skills that I obtained through my military experience.  The greatest skill that I have from my military experience is the ability to triage -- dividing incoming work, crisis, or product issues by priority level, so the highest priorities are handled first. I put this to work every day in my role at Caterpillar. My military roles required me to be able to create processes and identify gaps within processes. The ability to multi-task, lead and communicate are just a few of the skills these experiences gave me that I can translate into my role within Caterpillar.

From your perspective, how and why do you believe Caterpillar benefits from hiring military veterans?

Veterans, by nature are used to working in uncomfortable, stressful and demanding situations, making them well-prepared for the challenges of a civilian job. Couple that with a task-oriented team member that has had to lead and follow throughout their career as a military member, and they are perfect for a dynamic and progressive work environment. A few other skills and strengths that military members bring to the table are impressive work ethic, determination, organization, personal accountability and leadership. Veterans know that mistakes can have deadly consequences, so they are committed to taking responsibility for their behavior and striving for excellence. Veterans provide diversity throughout the organization through the experiences they have had in their careers. They can cascade those experiences through other team members allowing them to have a high aptitude for growth in the company, mentor and lead others, and make strategic and tactical decisions.

What would you say to a veteran candidate considering Caterpillar as their employer?

Always keep an open mind to experiences and opportunities that arise. You can build your background and experience through any job.  When applying for jobs, focus on your strengths and your aptitudes and do not get wrapped up in job descriptions. Remember, you are a “total person” that has been able to learn new things for the entirety of your military career in a stressful and intense environment. You can learn them at Caterpillar too. Make professional development a key focus and find a mentor that will help you set career goals. Lastly, be comfortable with being uncomfortable, be resilient, this is how we grow and learn.

Veteran Lacey

Military Spouse

How did your career bring you to Caterpillar and why was Caterpillar the best employer for you? 

I majored in accounting in college and knew that I wanted to work for a company that made a product rather than be in professional services. I knew Caterpillar was a good company to work for because my dad, grandpa, and great grandpa are all Caterpillar retirees! 

How has Caterpillar accommodated your military connection?

During deployment, my husband could only call during my work hours. I was always worried about how it would look talking to him, or even video chatting with him, while at work but if I didn’t answer the phone, we would have rarely been able to talk. My boss came over to ask me a question while I was on the phone with him one day, but when I went to hang up, he told me, “Don’t worry about it, that’s more important. We can talk later.” His understanding that I couldn’t reschedule those conversations meant the world to me.  

From your perspective, how and why do you believe Caterpillar would benefit from hiring military community members?  

Military spouses are often a forgotten about demographic. I’ve known so many spouses that were looking for jobs where their employer would be willing to understand that despite our lives sometimes having some added uncertainty, we bring valuable skills to the table. 

What would you say to a miliary spouse considering Caterpillar as their employer?

Sometimes as a military spouse it’s easy to lose your sense of self in the midst of everything else going on. Having my own career at a company that supported my husband’s service gave me something to hold onto during times when it felt like everything else was up in the air.

Military Spouse Amy
Soldier in front of Cat machine


In 2021, the Caterpillar Foundation partnered with the Manufacturing Institute (MI), providing a $2.25 million grant to support the work of Heroes MAKE America. This MI initiative builds connections between the military community and the manufacturing industry.

Heroes MAKE America’s training program arms participants with the skills and certifications needed to find and excel in manufacturing careers. Through in-person and remote training, Heroes helps members of the military community transition to their next mission in manufacturing. The Foundation’s grant allows the Heroes program to enhance and deploy workforce initiatives that address a growing manufacturing skills gap. Heroes MAKE America, a Department of Defense approved SkillBridge program, is open to transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses.

Soldier in front of a ship


Hiring Our Heroes (HOH) connects the military community—service members, military spouses, and veterans—with American businesses to create economic opportunity and a strong and diversified workforce. HoH was launched in 2011 and Caterpillar has partnered with them for over a decade. HoH’s focus is multi-faceted and includes hiring events across the country, Department of Defense-approved Fellowship Programs, and military spouse economic empowerment zones. Learn more here.

Caterpillar is proud to partner with: 

  • US Chamber of Commerce Foundation: Hiring Our Heroes
  • The Manufacturing Institute: Heroes Make America
  • Veterans Jobs Mission
  • Department of Defense: Military Spouse Employment Partnership
  • Department of Defense: Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve
  • Team RWB