A Navy Veteran with a Great Perspective


As part of DVNF’s commitment to serving the men and women who stood in our defense, we understand the importance of having team members who have been in their shoes. The following story gives some background on one of the veterans working at DVNF.

Nicholi Ambersley, DVNF’s Donor Services Specialist, came to DVNF in 2016. This soft-spoken Navy veteran is originally from the island of Jamaica, having moved to New Jersey in 1997.

Nicholi spent nearly 10 years in the Navy, serving from 2004 to 2014. His highest rank was Petty Officer Second Class (E-5). He served at a Naval Operation Support Center (NOSC) in New Jersey for a few years. Here, he receive the duty of funeral honors. This role required him to make sure that those who served before and passed away received a proper military-style burial.

Nicholi, with DVNF Director of Operations, Leander Brereton.

To him, that was one of the most interesting duties he performed because it was unlike anything he had ever done before.

From changing the plane’s light bulbs, to working on its generators

His primary job during his service, however, was as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate, essentially working on jet planes, such as the EA-6B Prowler and the EA-18G Growler, performing maintenance on anything electrical in the plane. This duty consisted of everything from changing the plane’s light bulbs, to working on its generators.

While this job may seem somewhat low-key, it was a major role that put Nicholi in some dangerous places. In fact, he served 4 tours in Afghanistan.

“I served in Afghanistan, did four tours there, but I was never on the front line though,” said Nicholi. “I saw some things, yes, but never had to go into combat.” In addition to Afghanistan, he was also stationed in Kyrgyzstan for a time.

Favorite part about serving in the military

Despite the rough nature of those assignments, Nicholi also spent time in some more desirable locations. He went to places like Germany, Turkey, Ireland, Greece, and Spain, and a few other stations. His service gave him the opportunity to see the world. As a result, this well-traveled veteran has a positive view of his time in the Navy.

“My favorite part about serving in the military was the friendship and the bond you build with the persons you were with, no matter where they were from,” he said. “But also, it was the skill sets I learned that will forever be ingrained in me.”

Nicholi said he learned several life skills in the military that helped him during his transition to civilian life. From adaptability (a necessary requirement for military service), to leadership skills and time management, these assets have helped him make his way back to becoming a civilian after 10 years in uniform.

The transition to civilian life

That’s not to say the transition was an easy one.

“The toughest thing initially was waking up and not working on airplanes anymore and leaving the guys I pretty much grew with in my career,” Nicholi explained. However, he did say that he still keeps in touch with several of his friends from the Navy.

Ambersley’s struggles weren’t necessarily limited to culture shock. He faced another common hurdle that many newly-separated veterans face – finding a job. He thought it would be especially tough for him since he had some college experience but hadn’t finished. Nicholi possessed a security clearance, however. He assumed it to be something of valuable asset in the job search. Unfortunately, it was still a difficult process, much to his surprise. However, like any veteran, no challenge could stop him from his objective.

Advice to other veterans

We asked him what advice he’d give other veterans transitioning to civilian life. Nicholi gave a common-sense answer that may seem simple, but is ultimately quite shrewd.

“I’d tell them to make sure they know before they transition. Know what it is you want to do when you get out [of the military], know the steps it will take to get there.”

He added that these veterans should have a fallback plan in place. He suggested it is wise to have some companies or colleges lined up, just in case.

But Nicholi’s main piece advice? Tenacity.

“Be persistent, the military taught us that much, so don’t give up because you hear one or two ‘no’s.’”

Nicholi works to fulfill requests or answer questions of DVNF’s generous donors. It’s very different from changing a plane’s lightbulb or working on its generator, but we’re thrilled to have this veteran on board our team.