In Honor of All Who Have Served - Day 1

In honor of Veterans Day in the US and Remembrance Day in Canada, we at First Transit and First Vehicle Services are proud to honor members of our organization who so bravely answered the call to serve their countries. We thank these men and women, not only for their military service, but also for the outstanding contributions they have made to First Transit and First Vehicle Services. Throughout the week, we will be featuring military veterans from throughout our organization, employees who are exemplary in their commitment to our Vision and implementation of our Values.

First Lead Technician Rick Wieland of Pittsburgh, PA, served in the US Marines from 1973 to 1977. His military time was spent in North Carolina and in Okinawa. Rick achieved the rank of E-5 Sergeant.  As First Vehicle Services employee, Rick has been work injury and accident-free for 9+ years. As Acting Safety Officer for the facility and the union, Rick conducts weekly safety inspections; serves as safety trainer; and, is a representative to the monthly Police Accident Review Board.

Rick has developed a buddy system for both backing and lifting units at the facility. He routinely reinforces and supports the location cell phone policy, ensuring that cell phones remain locked in a car or a locker while employees are on the clock. He established a safe ZONE in the facility lot for firefighters and medics to switch out of units and into spares when delivering vehicles for service.

Community involvement and commitment are evidenced by Rick’s annual donations and volunteer work for the annual Christmas “Stuff the Bus” toy drives; holiday food bank; and, ongoing support for colleagues and communities who have fallen on difficult times.

We recognize Rick this week and thank him for his demonstrated leadership, his commitment to the community and his service to his country. Thank you, Rick!

George VanAlstine, First Transit Driver and Trainer in Eden Prairie, MN, served as an MP in the US Army from 1965 to 1968 during the Vietnam conflict. George was stationed in White Sands, NM, and played a key role in clearing the site for the safety and security of missile testing. George was then deployed to Germany where continued to serve as MP and was then promoted to Sergeant.

An exemplary driver and trainer, George is approaching 14 years of service with First Transit (having joined Laidlaw Transit Services in 200). Georges uses his self-discipline and skills to teach people to provide consistently high levels of service for our client, SouthWest Transit, whose transit services have won multiple national awards. George’s dedication to quality, consistency, safety and security are evident in his daily work. His leadership skills and concern for the success of others is shown by his: proficiency at dispatching the service in the absence of our dispatchers and assisting other drivers with any pre-trip difficulties. Team members know they can count on George. He is self-motivated, dependable and always eager to volunteer for any additional task. George makes it a point to know ALL the routes in our system and is always prepared to change routes at a moment’s notice if necessary.

Our thanks to George for his military and civilian service as he supports our Vision, as well as our client’s credo “Expect the Best.”

First Transit Operator Robert Gregory in Houston, Texas, served the US Army from 1974 to 1977. Robert served as a Sergeant assigned to Special Services in Baumholder, Germany. With nearly 14 years of Fixed Route Operations in Houston, Robert has distinguished himself as an outstanding operator. His commitment to safety and customer service is unmatched and he is highly regarded among his colleagues at First Transit and Houston Metro. He has been recognized three times as a Distinguished Operator; and, has been named seven times to Honor Roll. Robert demonstrates a positive attitude, strong work ethic and ongoing commitment to our customers, all of which make him a role model. He is known as one of Houston’s most dependable operators and is always willing to help in times of need.

Robert credits the discipline and focus he learned in the Army for his success at First Transit. “When I am behind the wheel,” he explains, “I know that I am responsible for a lot of people and have to remain focused and disciplined . . . It’s about safety.” Robert says his military training also prepared him to meet and understand the needs of Houston Metro’s diverse ridership.

We salute Robert for his service to the US Army and for the military precision he brings to work each day.