Growing Your Career with First Mid as a Military Veteran, featuring Matthew Barnes

Veterans Day Blog Articles - Matthew Barnes

At First Mid, we support and encourage all our employees to pursue the dreams they have for their careers. As part of a blog article series for Veterans’ Day focusing on our employees who are Veterans, we recently asked Matthew Barnes, Long-Term Care Professional and Senior Account Executive with our First Mid Insurance Group (FMIG)’s Senior Solutions division, questions about his career path.

Could you provide information about your military background?

I began my Air Force career in March 1982 with Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in San Antonio, TX. I then moved to Denver, CO for my Technical Training and Columbus AFB was my first duty station. In 1985, I received orders to Zweibrucken Air Base (AB) in Germany. I returned to the States in 1988 for my final assignment at Chanute AFB in Rantoul, IL. During my time at Chanute, I had temporary duty in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm. I served a total of 11 ½ years.

What motivated you to join the military?

I come from a long line, as many of those who serve do, of family members who have served our country in various branches of the military, dating back to my sixth great-grandfather Phineas in the American Revolutionary War. My mother had six brothers who served during World War II. My dad was in the Navy and his dad was in the Army. My brother also served in the Air Force. I imagine I drew inspiration from all of them.

How has your military background prepared you for the challenges and responsibilities you face in your role at First Mid?

Self-discipline and determination are two vital attributes that I developed over my years of service. Applying those to my 30-year sales career has brought me appreciated successes in many different areas.

Can you share a specific example of how your military training or skills have been valuable in your current position?

During my AF career, we moved every three years to a new base. You learn a lot about how to make new friends and relate to people on a deeper level. This is exactly what I must do every time I am introduced to a potential client or someone new at one of the branches I work with. I left the AF in 1993 and moved to Urbana, IL, just like moving to a new base. I came to our agency in 1997, just like moving to a new base. I moved to Peoria after our acquisition. These experiences have served me, my colleagues, and clients well.

How has First Mid fostered a supportive and inclusive environment for Veterans?

I have found that the First Mid family greatly values the service of our Veterans, not only in word but also in actions. We are currently seeing this with the displays of remembrance and honor in the branches.

Have you encountered any unique challenges as a Veteran in the workplace, and how have you overcome them?

I have been very fortunate that I did not suffer any lasting injuries during my time of service. I face the same daily challenges that we all do, and I welcome the opportunity to learn and grow from them.

How has your experience as a Veteran shaped your perspective on teamwork, leadership, and problem-solving in the workplace?

I have found I perform at my best when I am a valued player within a team that is striving to reach a mutual goal. The leadership of our organization, as those in charge did when I served, provide the opportunity for us to reach levels of achievement that benefit all involved in the process.

What advice do you have for Veterans entering the workforce?

Find a mentor who you want to be like and follow their guidance. Apply the skills you have been taught and the gifts you have been blessed with. Take things one day at a time and enjoy life, knowing you are appreciated.

If you are interested in starting a career with First Mid, we have many open positions throughout our various departments and across our entire footprint. If you are interested in exploring and/or applying for one of our open positions, visit our Current Openings page, which can be found on our Careers page. There are many benefits to working at First Mid, such as health insurance, paid time off, and employer matching for 401(k) and HSA accounts. We are a great Company for a Veteran to grow in their career. There could be a place for you here.