For Norbie Lara, he is proud of the skills he has acquired during his time in service and as a leader at Amazon.
“A lot of the leadership principles that I learned in the Army, I use at Amazon,” Lara said. “Employees are drawn to doing a good job, taking care of those to their left and their right. I teach them how to do that.”
As an assistant site leader at a fulfillment center in Fresno, California, Lara oversees inbound and outbound freight operations. But before coming to Amazon, Lara was a U.S. Army combat soldier for more than a decade. He joined the Army in 1995 as a military policeman. In 2004, he volunteered to deploy to Iraq. Just a few months into his deployment, Lara’s life was upended when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle.
“I wake up at Walter Reed Army Medical Center two months later, and I realized my entire arm was gone,” said Lara.
The blast also left him with a brain injury. “I just remember being so scared of what my life was going to be like,” he said.
After retiring from the Army, Lara went to work as a spokesperson for the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit that supports veterans injured in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. In 2015, he co-founded A Combat Veteran’s Hope, a nonprofit that connects veterans locally.
But Lara had other dreams, too. He went back to school to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Not long after graduating, recruiters from Amazon contacted him.
It was during his interview that Lara said his interest in a career at Amazon was solidified.
“One of the gentlemen who was doing my interview was also a combat veteran,” Lara said. “I asked him, ‘Do you think that I can do this job?’ And he said, ‘Why couldn't you?’ And I knew from that moment that I wanted to work for Amazon because it had a place for me.”
"Being offered a position with Amazon exceeded any expectation that I was going to have for my life,” Lara said.
In addition to continuing to volunteer for A Combat Veteran’s Hope, Lara is an active member of the Warriors at Amazon affinity group, an employee organization of current and former active military personnel, their families, and other Amazon employees who support them. Lara said he hopes sharing his story inspires others who have disabilities.
“If I can work for Amazon—missing an arm, overcoming a brain injury, putting myself through college—anyone can do those things,” he said. “It's absolutely possible.”
Learn more about Amazon’s Military initiatives and opportunities.