From an early age, Heath Garcia knew he wanted to serve his country.
It started during visits to his mom’s family in Missouri. His grandfather and his seven brothers had all been in the military, serving in World War II and Korea.
“I was fascinated by the stories he told and in awe of what my grandfather used to do,” Heath said. “I wanted to carry on that tradition.”
He joined the Army at 19 years old and served for seven years. He did two tours in Afghanistan, earning the Bronze Star for his heroism in providing first aid and helping to evacuate a wounded soldier while under fire during an intense 17-hour firefight.
Now, he’s using the work ethic and leadership skills he learned in the military to thrive in a career at Best Buy.
A lifesaving duo
For most of his time in the Army, Heath trained specialized search dogs. Similar to police dogs that are trained to sniff out narcotics, the dogs he worked with were trained to find explosives, weapons and ammunition.
His partner was a black lab named Lucy. They were together for six years, serving missions across the United States and deploying twice to the Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan.
“I say she saved people’s lives. She did more of the work than I did,” he said.
And, in fact, she saved Heath’s life on at least one occasion. While searching an orchard, Lucy alerted him to a yellow jug overhead — it was actually an improvised explosive device (IED) that was wired to a pressure plate in the ground near him.
Heath enjoyed his time in the military but decided to leave in late 2015 because he wanted to spend more time with his three children. And when he left, the military retired Lucy, so he could bring her home with him.
“I always joked with my wife that when Lucy retires out she’s going to sleep in bed with me, and you can find somewhere else,” he said. “I told her, ‘She saved my life, have you?’”
Lucy lived with Heath and his family until she passed away a few years ago.
A new mission
After leaving the military, Heath used the G.I. Bill to take online classes. But after being used to working 60- to 80-hour weeks, he was anxious to get away from his computer.
He had always wanted to work at Best Buy, so he got a job as a part-time asset protection specialist. He immediately loved it.
“I wanted to make my Best Buy career like my time in the military, where I started at the bottom and worked my way up,” Heath said. “I wanted to show that if someone was willing to take the risk with me, they would see the results. I always give maximum effort, 110%.”
He’s now a supervisor at our store in Cypress, Texas, and he plans to keep climbing the ladder. He hopes to become an operations manager next, then get some experience in sales before becoming a general manager. His long-term goal is to join a market or territory staff.
“There are a lot of things that I learned in the military that transitioned very well,” he said. “I’m very thankful for everything I learned in the military and how I can use it for Best Buy.”
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