Seaford brothers who served our country now support our customers
A few days after Hurricane Gloria made landfall on Long Island in September 1985, ripping overhead lines, toppling trees and taking out electricity to 750,000 LILCO customers, a 5-year-old Seaford boy watched in awe as workmen climbed utility poles by his neighbor’s house. It was getting dark outside but little William Zimmermann and his dad looked on as the workers fixed the broken pole.
“They looked like superheroes,” recalled Zimmermann, who is now an overhead lines worker himself and goes by the nickname BZ. “At 5 years old, I thought the hurricane had an actual eye that shut our lights off and these guys were coming to put them back on for us. They were climbing very high with what looked like little metal things on their feet and it looked magical.”
As the neighborhood became illuminated, William turned to his dad and said, “That’s what I want to do when I get older.”
BZ says even today, getting people’s power back on is still his favorite part of the job.
After high school, BZ decided to pursue a different dream: to serve his country. At 18, he raised his right hand and became a Marine – the first person in his family to serve in the military.
BZ served four years, rising to the rank of sergeant and completing two tours in Iraq with the 5th Marines during the War on Terror.
“The military taught me hard work and dedication to my trade. It also showed me how to keep morale up for me and my team in tough situations,” BZ said. “We were trained to adapt, improvise and overcome. I can go up in a bucket 10 stories high, climb 90-foot poles and, in the Marines, I rappelled off mountains – even though I don’t like heights. I learned to do these uncomfortable things in part because of my military training.”
In 2004, as his four-year commitment to Uncle Sam was ending, the new Helmets to Hardhats program launched BZ’s second career. He entered a lineman apprenticeship program using his GI Bill.
BZ says he’s fortunate he was able to live both career dreams. Working with his younger brother, John, is an unexpected bonus.
Like BZ, John Zimmermann also enlisted after high school and served four years supporting the War on Terror.
“I always wanted to join the military since I was a little kid,” said the younger Zimmermann. “Seeing my brother’s Marine Corps boot camp graduation from Parris Island sealed the deal for me.”
John became a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force and, like his brother, served two tours – deploying to Iraq in 2009 and Afghanistan in 2010.
“I was a Tactical Air Control Party,” explained John. “Our job was to brief Army ground commanders on Air Force capabilities and limitations in support of ground forces and call in close air support if needed.”
Like BZ, when John’s commitment to the military ended, he went from serving his nation to serving his community. He joined the utility as a district operator, helping provide the people of Long Island and the Rockaways with safe, reliable power.
John used the Post 9/11 GI Bill to get his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Today he is a construction supervisor on PSEG Long Island’s Construction Management team. He is also pursuing a master’s degree in energy management.
John and BZ are two of the many veterans working at PSEG Long Island and they’re among dozens of employees who are members of the company’s employee-led Veterans business resource group (EBRG), which supports veteran-related organizations with financial assistance and hands-on community service.
National Hire a Veteran Day
The Zimmermanns are proud to have served and happy to be part of a company that recognizes what veterans bring to the table.
“Veterans understand the importance of teamwork and having the willpower to carry out a task no matter how arduous it may be,” John said. “Many veterans are discharged from active duty with no direction and may feel lost. It’s good to know there are programs available to assist veterans in making the transition to work and that there are companies seeking veterans to employ.”
July 25, is National Hire a Veteran Day. PSEG Long Island values and honors the military experience veterans bring to the workplace. For more information on career opportunities for veterans within PSEG Long Island, click here.