It was 2002 when Erick and Alejandra Ortega met.
They were both serving in the United States Navy, working on the same ship – Erick as a gas turbine systemstechnician, Alejandra as a storekeeper.
“I first saw her when I went to pick up some parts,” said Erick, “and we got to talking.”
Soon after, they continued the conversation during a shore visit in Malta.
“We danced and talked the whole night,” said Erick. “We just clicked.”
The rest was history. Erick and Alejandra married in 2004, and now have three children, ages 14, 13 and 5. Although both separated from the Navy years ago, they still incorporate the lessons they learned while serving to raise their family.
“We’re still shipmates, in a way,” said Erick. “We still work things out the way we did in the military. We’re goal-oriented, and we have to work as a team.”
While their military service brought Erick and Alejandra together as a couple, it also impacted them as individuals. Alejandra said her time in the Navy allowed her to broaden her horizons after a strict upbringing in rural Mexico.
“Growing up, I didn’t have the liberty to do lots of things,” said Alejandra. “When I joined the Navy, I got to travel to Hawaii, to Japan, to Singapore and England. It was amazing to meet new people and experience difference cultures.”
For Erick, it was how he found a career path during his transition back to civilian life. “In the Navy, I workedalongside a lot of people who taught me about engineering and machinery. That’s where I got my interest in working in the power industry, and how I ended up at OUC.”
Erick, now a Plant Operator at Stanton Energy Center, has been with OUC for 12 years; Alejandra, Call Center Rep I, joined 4 years ago. Alejandra stressed the importance of employers supporting veterans — something she and Erick have seen firsthand at OUC.
“A lot of veterans struggle to find a job once they are discharged,” said Alejandra. “And no matter where they served, veterans always have valuable skills – teamwork, leadership – and if there’s something they don’t know how to do, they will work hard to learn it.”
Erick and Alejandra are part of the 10 percent of OUC’s workforce comprised of veterans. At OUC, we’re committed to offering opportunities for success and quality of life to individuals who currently give or have provided service to the United States Armed Forces. To our own veterans and to all who have served, we thank you.