Serving with Pride
March 11, 2021
“Serving my country is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said Frank Luna, when speaking of his military career. “I consider it a privilege.”
A consultant in Regional External Affairs at JCP&L, Frank’s desire to serve his country prompted him to join the Army National Guard at the age of 36 – which, because the age limitation is 35, required a waiver. He follows in the footsteps of his grandfather who served in World War II, and his uncles who served in Korea and Vietnam.
Pursuing His Dream
Six months after joining FirstEnergy, Frank left for boot camp in October 2019, where he began his journey to become an Army infantryman.
“All of our training was done at Fort Benning in Georgia,” he said. “Our training was grueling; however, what was most challenging was being away from home.”
After completing boot camp, Frank and his fellow soldiers found that the world had changed significantly due to COVID-19.
“We were pretty much sequestered from the outside world and it was surprising to see the effects of the pandemic. When we left Fort Benning to go home, the airport was a ghost town,” he said.
Frank returned to his job at FirstEnergy where he said his coworkers and the company are very supportive of his military career.
“I’m so fortunate to work with a great group of people and for a company that fully supports our military employees,” he said. “FirstEnergy’s military support program is very progressive compared with other companies.”
As a Regional External Affairs consultant, Frank’s service area includes Long Branch and Union Beach districts, where he works with JCP&L’s municipal partners to ensure the company is responsive to their unique needs. His responsibilities vary from day to day and include tasks like assisting with massive streetlight repair efforts and daily maintenance, outreach to nonprofit organizations in the community and serving as the primary point of contact during storms.
When Frank was notified in January 2021 that he was being deployed to help protect the U.S. Capitol following the Jan. 6 riots in Washington, D.C., he was ready to go. This would be Frank’s first official deployment.
“I watched the riots with the same fear and anger as other Americans and was shocked by what I saw,” he said. “After seeing coverage on TV, I wasn’t surprised to receive the text the following Friday that a military presence was needed – especially with the presidential inauguration only two weeks away.”
Frank and his team were deployed the next day for D.C. They were in the first wave of guardsmen and women to arrive
“I was so proud to be among the men and women called upon to assist our federal and local authorities in protecting the Capitol, said Frank. “When you’re called for deployment there is a great deal involved such as rescheduling your job and home life and following through on official check-in procedures before reporting for duty,” he said. “A great deal of personal sacrifice is required, but it is well worth it.”
Frank shared that one of the best parts of serving is the camaraderie.
“The first night there, I was on guard duty with a fellow guardsman and we talked with two Capitol police officers who were present during the riots. It was an emotional discussion as they personally knew the officer who was killed and those who were injured. Hearing their story really hit home,” he said.
Frank was on orders for several weeks before returning to work.
Frank said he’s proud of his military service and even prouder of his participation in protecting our nation’s Capitol during a turbulent time.
“It’s our duty to treat others with respect. I want to be a good citizen and carry myself in a manner that my country, family and coworkers would be proud. It’s an honor to serve my country,” he said.