Nate Rupe always knew he’d return to civilian life. However, the Army veteran still wasn’t quite prepared when he left the service in April 2022.
“There were a lot of hesitancies,” says Rupe, a former flight paramedic and current Advia Credit Union talent acquisition partner. “The military is a different environment, so I struggled when it came to not having that surrounding of people.”
He built up a large network of people during an Army career that included three years as a ground medic in Germany, a year attending school in Texas, and more than three years as a flight paramedic in Alabama.
“I had a very cozy military career,” Rupe says. “But not everybody gets that. A lot of my buddies had way more medical calls, multiple deployments, and much more active military careers. Those guys have an even more difficult reintegration back into society.
“For me, leaving the service was a drastic change, but it was good for work/life balance,” he continues. “It was a family decision. We sat back, recognized I was taking work home with me, and decided it was a good time to get out.”
In his new environment as a stay-at-home dad enrolled in college, it quickly became apparent that he needed people to talk to. So Rupe went back to the workforce to satisfy some of those social needs.
He quickly found what he was looking for at the $3 billion asset credit union in Kalamazoo, Mich. Rupe’s wife started first at Advia, the latest in a series of credit unions she worked at while moving around the country as a military spouse.
When she relayed how impressed she was with the organization, Rupe decided to check it out.
He started part-time at the front desk of the Oshtemo branch in July 2022. The service-oriented credit union quickly made an impression on Rupe, who had joined the Army to help people.
Branch Service Manager Rekeesha Winston showed him that servant leadership was still possible in this setting.
“People would come in just to talk to her,” Rupe recalls. “They'd pick her mind, and she was their mentor. She was sincere about helping people. She really sold the company to me.
“She’s just one of the many leaders who have made an impact on me in my time at Advia,” he adds. “The leaders here have a sincere passion for helping people. This is why I always describe it as a financial hospital rather than a financial institution. It was a smooth integration. And I value still helping people.”
He maintains that people-first approach while partnering with veteran resource groups like the Michigan Veteran Affairs Agency. While Advia is a great fit for Rupe, he knows not every veteran is as fortunate when transitioning back to civilian life.
“At no point once I got into Advia did I feel like I was alone,” Rupe says. “Some of my buddies say, ‘being a civilian stinks.’ I tell them they’ve just got to find the right home. Helping people get to that spot is a good feeling.”