Choosing to Serve the Nation

Mario Bonifacio enlisted in the U.S. Army as a Counterintelligence Agent before being commissioned as a Field Artillery officer, deploying to Iraq from 2005-2006. He is currently studying International Finance and Economic Policy at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. He is with NYSE Media Relations for the summer and will be writing several blogs from NYSE Veterans' perspective

We have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan and other frontiers afield, literally contributing our blood, sweat, and tears to the cause. Home now, we make up a small, but impassioned group of veterans that have returned into one of the toughest job markets in decades.

After leaving the military, divergent paths brought us into NYSE Euronext’s inaugural Veterans Associates Program. Separated into different offices, we share a love of country, a commitment to service, and a determination to overcome the hurdles that stand in the way of careers in financial services – hurdles that include a lack of connections, a lack of industry-specific experience paired with an inability or unwillingness of firms to understand military skills and experience as applicable to the industry, as well as overcoming military stereotypes.

For my first piece, I spoke with Matthew Pizzo about his decision to join the military. In the U.S. Air Force, Matt specialized in Network Security, serving as a Communications-IT Technician. He is currently a volunteer with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and the National Veterans Legal Services Program. Matt is with NYSE Global Compliance for the summer.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Matt awoke early to get driven from his childhood house on Long Island to the Military Entrance Processing Station in Brooklyn – his ship date for the U.S. Air Force falling by coincidence on that fateful day.

Not long after he waved good bye to his father – an FDNY firefighter – did the day’s terrible events begin to unfold across the East River. Matt spent the morning alternately on lockdown and being shifted to safer locales as his father was pulled into the action.

As it became clear that his father would spend much of the succeeding months at Ground Zero and away from home, Matt – an only son – was pulled aside and told that due to his special circumstances, the Air Force would give him the option of tearing up his contract.

After talking it over with his parents, Matt went ahead with his enlistment, with ever more resolve than before. A decade later and now a Veteran Associate in the Global Compliance Division, Matt looks back on the training he received, the experiences he had, and the pride he got from serving and knows he made the right choice.

See the Closing Bell July 5th, 2012.