I would like to express my gratitude for all of Metro’s military service members, past and present. I am a daughter of an Army veteran, and Veterans Day has always been very important to my family.
This morning, I had the honor to join Metro Leadership Team members and colleagues at Atlantic/Central Base to raise the U.S. flag in honor of Veterans Day and to thank all our veterans, military service members, and their families for their selflessness and service.
Last year, you may have seen the stories we shared about two Metro veterans, Matt Canady and Paul Lang. This year, veterans Wan-Lin Tsou and Chris Cappelletti were gracious enough to share their personal experiences with us—including their background, anecdotes on military life, and why they chose a career at Metro.
Meet Wan-Lin Tsou. Wan-Lin works as the Customer Relationship Manager on the Market Innovation Team for the ORCA Business Passport Programs in the Metro Mobility Division. Wan-Lin grew up in Dallas-Fort Worth after her parents immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan when she was 3 years old.
Wan Lin said, “I knew my parents would have a hard time paying for my college education and I wanted to travel the world, too. I remember wanting to enlist to give back to the country that gave me and my family so much.”
Wan-Lin joined the U.S. Navy in 1997 after graduating from high school and actively served for five years. Of the experience she shared, “[I] learned so much about my personal strengths (and weaknesses), made memorable adventures, and made lifelong friendships.”
When we asked Wan-Lin how serving in the Navy impacted the person she is today, Wan-Lin shared:
“The Navy taught me the important values of having honor, courage, and commitment to be my authentic self and I still carry that lesson with me every day.”
In 2001, while I was stationed in Yokosuka, Japan, the tragic 9/11 event happened after my second week of arriving there. It felt so surreal, and I remember all my fellow service members, including myself, on the base being very upset that we were powerless to protect our country from this heinous attack. While waiting for my security clearance to go through for my forecaster position, I was temporarily stationed with the Auxiliary Security Force on base. We were trained to carry 9mm guns, use mirrors to search under cars that were entering the base, check bags, and stand guard at several posts along the Japanese coast throughout the base. This experience made me realize that life is precious and too short. I knew I had to live my truth and have the courage to come out of the closet [even] under the discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ+ policy, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
How has your experience in the military service helped you succeed at Metro? My experience in the service has absolutely helped me succeed at Metro. It has helped me with outside-of-the-box thinking, being courageous to call out something or to speak out when something is not right, and to take on more leadership roles at Metro. My military experience also reminds me that I cannot do everything myself and that you are only as powerful as your weakest link. My military foundation reminds me of the power of teamwork, the importance of serving with honor and integrity, and service for a greater community good.
What are some of the things you remember about military life that you enjoyed? I loved the independence and freedom that can come with a military life. I just had to do well at my job as a weather observer and the rest—food, housing, uniforms [were taken care of]. In 2000, when I was stationed at Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Center (NPMOC) in Yokosuka, Japan, [I enjoyed being able] to see how another culture thrives, experience their food and festivals, and to ride their very efficient transit service.
Why did you choose a career at Metro/King County? I moved to Washington state in 2012, after I left a transit position with Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART). After my experience with DART, I knew transit was the right career for me. However, it took me five years to finally make it back to transit with Metro. I strive and care so much about customer service and I have only held customer service positions at Metro. I love working for an organization that serves the community, cares about sustainability, getting folks to where they need to go equitably, and striving always to do better and be better for the great people of the Northwest.
Meet Chris Cappelletti. Chris has been with Metro since 2015 and was recently promoted to Supervisor-in-Training in the Bus Operations Division and was previously a transit operator. Chris grew up in the Northwest, born and raised in East King County. Chris attended Eastlake High School and completed his undergraduate work at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, before attending graduate school in Ireland.
Chris enlisted in 2017 and served for the Coast Guard, always in the Reserve component. Chris had three years of active duty, from 2019 to 2022 (he took military leave from Metro during that period) and is now back in the Reserve.
How has your experience in the service helped you succeed at Metro? I think what it’s done for me is encouraging me to develop comfort with the idea of evolution, of upward growth. In a civilian career, it’s possible to find something you’re good at and ride it out.
In the military, they call it up or out: You either continue to advance or you get left behind. In effect, by demanding you always continue to improve, it’s had a positive effect on my civilian career.
It had only been one year since returning to full-time status with Metro that I discovered this new opportunity. It’s never been enough for me to remain comfortable with the status quo. I have my eyes set on a longer career at Metro.
What are some of the things you remember about military life that you enjoyed? Active duty was pretty exciting, especially learning a full-time job from the ground up. There was a lot to learn. I enjoyed that challenge, that variety. I also knew as a driver at Metro at the time, I wasn’t going to be leaving anyone high and dry, because of the support I received. I was able to take advantage of (active duty) and not stress myself. I was actually attached to (Coast Guard) Facilities Engineering at Base Seattle, just across the railroad tracks from Central/Atlantic base. It was where I had done my monthly drills.
Why did you choose a career at Metro/King County? I moved back into the area, after having been living abroad for several years, in 2015, and I was looking for something with an opportunity that allowed me to establish roots and that also allowed schedule flexibility. Driving part-time was a reliable income with an employer who had a connection to the region but who also didn’t require me to give up my military service. As I developed more familiarity with Metro, I spent more and more time developing the opportunities we have here.
Thank you, Wan-Lin and Chris, for sharing your story with us and for your service.