June 14, 2021
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Army reservists a vital part of Lab’s workforce

Michael Padilla, padilla37 [at] llnl.gov, 925-341-8692

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) joins in the celebration of the U.S. Army birthday on June 14. Created in 1775, the army originally consisted of volunteer soldiers with roots to the Continental Army — and was formed to fight the Revolutionary War. Today, as the largest branch of the country’s military, the proud men and women of the U.S. Army continue to provide peace and security for all. LLNL is proud to have several Army reservists as part of the workforce.

Today, we feature Lab employees First Lt. Jaida Sinclair and Capt. Ashley Oerlemans Zepeda, who have been friends for 10 years. The two served in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) together and they recently became part of the same Army Reserves unit.

Jaida Sinclair

Jaida Sinclair, a project administrative coordinator within the Defense Technologies Engineering Division, was commissioned in August 2015 and has served in the Army Reserves since then.

She says she became part of the military for several reasons, including receiving a scholarship to join the ROTC.

“I come from a family with a service background,” she said. “It has always been important for me to make an impact in the world through a public service organization. At the completion of ROTC, I commissioned as a military intelligence officer in the Army Reserves.”

Sinclair
First Lt. Jaida Sinclair

Sinclair said she has been able to utilize what she has learned serving as a reservist in her current role at the Lab. “The military has helped with my time management skills, high attention to detail and the ability to easily lead and fall in as a member of the team,” she said.

Reflecting on what has stood out as being a Lab employee and a reservist, she said that the amount of support she has received from her colleagues has been great.

“As being both a solider and civilian, it can become stressful taking a 14-day leave or additional training days the Army may require,” she said. “Not to mention, working a 12-hour-per-day work week once a month due to a drill can be exhausting. My team is flexible on tasks and is always willing to help out.”

Ashley Oerlemans Zepeda

Ashley Oerlemans Zepeda has been a reservist for nine years, three of which were a simultaneous membership program while completing college and ROTC.

She credits her family for career in the service.

“Service is a family tradition,” said Zepeda. “My grandfather on my dad’s side was part of the Stoottroepen, an infantry regiment composed of members of the Dutch Resistance during WWII. My grandfather on my mom’s side served in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars. My dad was a U.S. military police officer, and I have multiple cousins that have served in the U.S. Army as well.”

She said serving in the military is very similar to her position she holds at the Lab, where she is an alternate special security officer within Global Security. In the Army, one of her many additional duties as an intelligence officer was serving as a security manager.

Ashley Oerlemans Zepeda
Capt. Ashley Oerlemans Zepeda during Ulchi-Freedom Guardian, a combined military exercise with South Korea.

Zepeda said she is grateful that the Lab is supportive of her Reserve career.

“I was so impressed that after my last training, which was four weeks, Huban Gowadia, principal associate director of Global Security, saw me in the hall and said, ‘Welcome back Ashley and thank you for your service.’ It seems small, but that level of support from the top makes a big difference.”

Zepeda currently serves as the treasurer for LLNL’s Veterans in Energy Technology & Science (VETS) Organization. VETS allows current and former military members, as well as supporters of the military, to come together and give back to the community.

“The best memory I’ve had here is the VA breakfast, where we raise funds and put on a breakfast for the residents of the VA,” she said. “At the breakfast, we have the opportunity to serve those who have given so much for our country.”