Veterans in the Industry

Veterans in the Industry

By Diane M. Calabrese / Published November 2023

Photo by iStockphoto.com/vencavolrab

Why was that path taken? That’s an interesting question. How did a manufacturer, distributor, or contractor come to be part of our industry?

Answers vary, but unique individual experiences add to the strength of the industry. Because it’s November, the month that anchors Veterans Day, military veterans are on our mind.

Military veterans bring a wealth of experience to our industry, and like all who meet in the cleaning equipment and power washing sphere, they help fortify it.

There are many veteran-owned businesses in the industry. Veterans can tap into what they learned while in uniform when guiding their companies.

William Appleton, the CEO of Nassau Pressure Wash LLC in Yulee, FL, tells us a bit about what military service taught him. “My time in the Navy as an E-3 taught me discipline, attention to detail, and the value of camaraderie,” he says.

Although Appleton had a medical discharge, every bit of time served added to the insights he brings to running a business. He sees military service as a natural follow-up to earlier disciplined experiences.

“Equally important was my journey through Boy Scouts, where I earned my Eagle Scout award, acquiring leadership and life-saving skills as well as a strong sense of service,” explains Appleton. Learning how to balance responsibilities began there. 

“These experiences, combined with my father’s 20-plus years in the Air Force, inspired my Navy service,” says Appleton. Now, heading up a company, all the experience proves to be valuable.

“I am juggling responsibilities constantly,” says Appleton. “I rely on the attention to detail instilled in me by the Navy to ensure every aspect of my business—from office management to customer service—is of the highest standard.”

And then there’s that earlier leadership experience, too. “I also rely on my leadership and teach-ing skills learned in Boy Scouts to pass along my knowledge to team members and the communities we serve.” 

Appleton’s partner in business is his wife, Meshel. He emphasizes she brings so much to the effort, such as unwavering dedication and hard work, that the business benefits from the many channels of experience that converge.

Veterans do not just own businesses as contractors in our industry, of course. Many veterans work as part of teams our readers know well, such as those at Chappell Supply and Equipment in Oklahoma City, OK, and GCE (Georgia Chemical Equipment) in Norcross, GA.

The United States currently has about 1.4 million active military personnel. In 1968 there were 3.5 million active miliary personnel. There are approximately 16.5 million veterans. 

Several very familiar names among our industry members served in the U.S. military. A few years ago, some of the individuals were profiled in these pages. 

We recommend the piece for rereading (“Honoring Veterans,” November 2019, www.cleanertimes.com/magazine/cleaner-times-articles-2/honoring-veterans.)

Photo by iStockphoto.com/Peter Johnson


The armistice that ended World War I—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month— became a national holiday in 1938. The holiday was named Armistice Day until 1954, when the name was changed by President Eisenhower to Veterans Day. 

Remembering and appreciating rather than not forgetting are the sentiments bound up in Veterans Day.

Somewhere along the way, the red poppy, a symbol of solace that had been ubiquitous with Veterans Day, began to vanish. Yes, the red poppies still appear here and there, but it would be nice to see more of them. The red poppies reminded everyone that some who serve do not return. The quiet remembrance deserves reclamation.

The armistice between Germany and the Allies was not signed precisely at the eleventh hour, but in 1918 the symmetry was seized upon as memorable. The war had been a very costly one, and no one wanted it to be forgotten. 

There were 20 million dead and 21 million wounded in World War I. More civilians died than military personnel, but the toll was high everywhere and included 9.7 million military members. 

No doubt November 11 will come and go this year with many people unaware of its significance. Will a well-known search engine tie to a red poppy? We can hope. But everyone can pause to remember anyway.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA.org) has organized many events for the week leading up to November 11. They are both real world and virtual. (See www.sba.gov/national-veterans-small-business-week.) 

The SBA has a Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) program that should be known to all. It offers resources to veterans, service members, and military spouses who want to start or grow a small business. 

VBOCs bring together tens of organizations that are interested in providing mentoring, simple advice, and suggestions to those on the new end of a business. The “feasibility analysis” offered through VBOC is extremely useful to those who want to be certain their business conforms to reality—as well as their dreams.


In August Josh Kidder, who does sales outreach and more at this magazine, met a woman at the HUGE Convention in Nashville, TN, who impressed him with her commitment to veterans. She is Pamela Arnell, Ed.D., the executive director of 22Zero™.

The organization Dr. Arnell leads puts its energies into finding and refining mechanisms for dealing with difficult issues. It focuses on veterans. 

One difficult issue affecting veterans is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is not new, but the name is a late 20th century formulation. (Many classic movies, such as “I’ll Be Seeing You” in 1944, deal with it; see shell shock.) 

“Our organization believes there is a better way to deal with traumatic emotions and negative emotions affecting day-to-day living,” says Arnell. “We developed the Tactical Resiliency Process, TRP, which is the heart of our interventions.”

The organization’s website includes descriptions of programs and links for accessing them. (See 22Zero.org.)

The TRP is comprehensive. It addresses emotional needs and ties to programs that enable veterans to deal with financial matters. The financial dimension may include starting a business.

Nick Davis, who is vice president of the organization, is a veteran and a financial advisor who founded Hemlock Creek Wealth Management. He is available to other veterans and to first responders for consultation.

Among the coaches at the organization is Paul Kassander, an army veteran. Kassander is known to members of our industry as the founder of Power Wash Store Inc., which is headquartered in Menomonee Falls, WI, with locations across eight states. Many veterans are among the managers of Kassander’s stores, explains Arnell. 

“PTSD is an injury that can now heal just as quickly as it happens,” says Arnell. “Our organization’s approach works. The evidence is in seeing results daily among veterans—all branches of the U.S. military, first responders, spouses, and minor children living in the home, including Gold Star families.”

There are many programs and entities ready to assist veterans with re-equilibrating. But the TRP program from Arnell’s organization combines several unobtrusive, ease-of-use features. 

“Ours is a peer-to-peer program, and you do not share any of the traumatic content,” says Arnell. There is “no waiting list,” and the program operates on “a Telehealth platform, so mission clients remain at home.”

Anonymity is important to many, and it is at the core of the program. “Our approach is completely confidential,” says Arnell. There is no reporting to the Veterans Admin-istration or to employers.

Obtain assistance and do so in a com-pletely private manner. That’s the idea. 

For those who would like to gain more information on the components of Arnell’s organization, visit the website; and there is an important documentary, “Healing the Heroes of 9/11,” available there that adds even more context.

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