When Chief Warrant Officer Russell Rawcliffe left his position as a helicopter pilot for the U.S. Army in 2012, he didn’t foresee himself returning to service. “I didn’t really have any aspirations of coming back on active duty or joining the National Guard,” he says. “I had it in my mind that that was that.”
While living as a civilian in Atlanta, Georgia, Rawcliffe learned that the Georgia Army National Guard was looking for qualified pilots. After two years out of the cockpit, he joined the Guard in 2014 and took up flying UH-72A Lakota helicopters. “I really enjoy flying,” Rawcliffe explains. “It’s nice to get out of the office once a week and go fly around.” Joining the Guard gives Rawcliffe the opportunity to fly regularly and allows him to pursue his professional goals.
In 2015 Rawcliffe joined Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA) as a senior analyst in strategic analytics. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, he had the unique opportunity to combine his two professional spheres by piloting helicopter missions to provide logistical support to dialysis patients on the devastated island.
“Russell’s military background was instrumental in helping our relief teams navigate through the many obstacles that existed on the island,” says Luis Emanuelli, our regional vice president for Puerto Rico.
Not long after Rawcliffe aided with missions in Puerto Rico, he learned that he would be deployed to Afghanistan. He had deployed to Iraq while on active duty and had the experience necessary to fly night missions. Before leaving, Rawcliffe’s supervisors asked if he would be able and willing to continue his regular position while overseas.
“I wanted to continue to work,” says Rawcliffe. “Having been on deployments before, I know there’s a lot of downtime and idle time. So, I jumped at the opportunity to continue working.”
Rawcliffe signed a remote work agreement and went to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2018, where he flew CH-47F Chinook helicopters. He recalls, “It was always funny at the beginning of every conference call. Everybody kind of asked, ‘how’s Afghanistan?’”
Working for FMCNA also gave Rawcliffe a distraction from missing his family back home. The father of four boys regularly messaged with his family but was glad to have something to fill his free time. “I didn’t have a family to go home to at the end of the workday, so whenever I was off, I just continued working,” he says.
Rawcliffe felt lucky to be on a team at FMCNA and in a role within the military that allowed him to continue both careers simultaneously. Not all military roles or civilian careers can offer that flexibility. For Rawcliffe, though, it worked out well enough that he was able to be even more productive while deployed than before he left.
Rawcliffe returned home in 2019 after a 12-month deployment and was able to pick right up at FMCNA. His career has since progressed, and he now works as a senior manager and is still a member of the Georgia Army National Guard. “I don’t foresee myself leaving Fresenius Medical Care ever,” he says. “I’m proud to be part of an organization that offers that opportunity and extends that trust and confidence in their employees to work remotely.”
FMCNA actively recruits Veterans for employment and supports an active Veteran population with our Veterans’ Employee Resource Group. Visit jobs.fmcna.com/military to learn more and explore opportunities.