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With a boost from Amazon, a Las Vegas military family celebrates Father’s Day together this year

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(Left to right) Michelle, Scott, Austin, Ethan and Matthew Mills
Photo: Christopher DeVargas

Military families are always on the go. And the Mills family is no exception. In 21 years, they’ve been on 13 assignments. Right now, it’s Nellis Air Force Base, where patriarch Scott Mills is a colonel and F-35 pilot.

“We move a lot more than most people,” Scott’s wife, Michelle, says. “We’ve criss-crossed the globe back and forth.”

And while that globe-trotting has given the family myriad life experiences and “crazy adventures,” Michelle says her own career has been affected by the frequent movement: “Throughout that time, you take whatever job you really can get.”

Scott (left) and Matthew Mills

Scott (left) and Matthew Mills

About 18 months ago, Michelle had a breakthrough. She joined Amazon through a special military spouse fellowship program. She now works as part of the military recruiting team that works to transition veterans into leadership roles. She says her team is entirely composed of military spouses and veterans.

The best part: Her career is no longer tied to a location, which allows for a new level of job stability and growth. “Amazon—even before any of the current situation—was just really phenomenal about allowing our ‘mil spouses’ on our team to remain virtual, as we’re following our spouses around on their careers,” Michelle says. “This has been a huge blessing to allow me to grow my career, because it goes with me.” With her family looking at the possibility of yet another move within the year, she feels especially fortunate.

About a month ago, Michelle and Scott’s 23-year-old son, Matthew, also got a job at Amazon. He’d held a variety of jobs over the years: HVAC repair, bar manager, manager at a lake marina in North Carolina. Trying to remain near family has brought similar career challenges as his mother’s. In a military family, “you just take what you can get wherever you move and just kind of go from there,” he says.

“Piggybacking” off his parents’ latest move—from North Carolina to Las Vegas—Matthew was hired as part of the surge of temporary Amazon employees during the pandemic. He just passed his 30-day mark at the Amazon fulfillment center in North Las Vegas. As a “rebin” worker, he’s the last stop before the packers package up the boxes and send them to the shipping docks. “It’s my job to sort through what’s coming in and make sure they’re going in the right places to group together orders.”

In March, Amazon hired 175,000 temporary employees to meet the explosive demand brought on by COVID-19. Last month, Amazon announced that it would turn more than 70% of those seasonal hires into full-time employees. Hoping to nab one of those full-time slots, Matthew recently put in his conversion application. If accepted, he will transition to an elevated role with full benefits, including career training.

(Left to right) Scott, Austin and Matthew Mills

With a passion for mechanics—“I like tinkering with things that are broken, trying to fix them up,” he says—Matthew hopes to study diesel mechanics through Amazon’s Career Choice program. Right now he’s studying light management, and might transfer to Releigh, North Carolina, when Amazon opens a location there.

Matthew also has full, sole custody of his nearly 2-year-old son, Austin. He says his four-day work weeks and Amazon’s flexibility have helped him balance work and family life.

“I’m very grateful that Amazon allows that,” Matthew says.

For Father’s Day, the Mills plan to celebrate at home here in Las Vegas. “It’s gonna be really fun just to have a kind of a grill-in sort of day and spend it as a family,” Matthew says. “Father’s Day gives you a moment to sit down and realize just what you’ve done for your child and how great it is to actually have children.”

It will be a full family affair, as younger brother Ethan, 20, is home from college for the summer. “He and my son are best buddies,” Matthew says. “They love hanging out and chasing one another around the park. It’s a very strong bond with his “Uncle E.”

Matthew also has a message for his dad: “I thank him for the opportunities that he gave me and my brother—all the different traveling and the experiences of the world through military life. It definitely was hard, but I wouldn’t change anything.”

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