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National Restaurant Association - Former hostage salutes the military

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Former hostage salutes the military

When Rocky Sickmann was a U.S. Marine in Iran in 1979, he had no idea his life would change dramatically and that the world would never be the same.

Sickmann was stationed at the American embassy in Tehran when the U.S. government allowed the Shah of Iran to seek medical treatment and asylum in the United States. The Iranians stormed the embassy, demanded the return of the Shah and took 52 diplomats hostage, including the Marines based at the embassy. “For the next 444 days, we were stripped of our freedom, dignity and pride,” he says.

It was only after the Shah died in 1980, a failed rescue attempt, and the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan in January 1981, that Sickmann and the other hostages were released. Thirty-six years later, he serves his country by helping servicemen and women find foodservice careers.

As director of military affairs for Anheuser Busch in St. Louis, Sickmann steers veterans toward career opportunities at the beverage company and other foodservice firms. He talks to veterans at military recruiting events and advises them on how to assimilate back into civilian life with ease and hope for the future.

“I tell them their missions continue after they’ve served honorably in the military and that there are so many companies that need good service and help,” he says. “Our HR team understands the importance of hiring good military people, and we employ them in all facets of the business – as truck drivers, logistics specialists, in technology, chemistry and our breweries.”

On Veteran’s Day, Sickmann advises servicemen and women to be proud they served their country well, and make sure they tell employers what they did and how they were leaders. “The business world is always looking for those who can build and execute a good mission. Make sure you relate your military duties into a civilian culture.”

He considers his work a token of gratitude and an opportunity to help veterans start a new mission at home. “I always want to say thank you to those who do what they do to help us.”

On a personal note, he acknowledges each day how good life is. “I don’t wish anyone to ever have to go through what I did. You just have to hold on and live life to the fullest.”

Learn more about the National Restaurant Association’s Military Foundation.

Pictured top right: Sickmann talks to active servicemen and women during this year's NRA Military Foundation event at the CIA's Greystone campus in California.

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