News & Events

Honoring Veterans — ‘There Is No Big I or Little You’

To commemorate Veterans Day (Saturday, Nov. 11), below are several CalPERS members currently working in the public sector who have served in the U.S. armed forces. We asked them to share how their experience serving in the military has informed how they show up in their public agency roles, which range from helping to lead California’s military department, to supporting people and buildings in remote, rural California.

Bo Cosley

Principal Building Inspector,
City of Sacramento

U.S. Navy, Petty Officer 1st Class, Served 9 years

I served in the U.S. Navy with a special group of divers while working in explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) and the hyperbaric dive chambers.

Something divers know is that, when underwater, your life depends on everyone working together. There is no “Big I” or “Little You.” While in EOD, you could easily end up doing a job that required enlisted sailors and officers to dive together. You could even find yourself on a dive with your captain.

As a building inspector with the City of Sacramento, I have encountered people from various cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities. Traveling the world during my naval career — 59 countries total — taught me that we all have commonalities, and if willing, there is always a way to communicate and solve problems together.

As the principal building inspector for Sacramento, it’s second nature to embody this mindset that was shaped during my naval experience. It has allowed me to possess the right attitude, to be patient, and to not be so quick to judge people.
In working with my team of inspectors, I’m constantly reminded that our success depends on each other. There really are no “Big I’s” and “Little You’s.”

Nathan Rushton

Staff Services Analyst,
Humboldt County Department of Health & Human Services

U.S. Army, Specialist E-4, Served 3 years
California Army National Guard, Served 4 years

My service in the U.S. Army instilled in me qualities that I draw upon to maintain focus on our agency’s mission, and to help our team’s daily work of maintaining dozens of buildings and supporting the more than 1,200 employees who provide vital services to our community’s most vulnerable. Those qualities are teamwork and determination.

Military training also helped me develop the resourcefulness and confidence to adapt to the many challenges of living and working along Northern California’s rugged and rural coast.

Julian H. Bond

Inspector General,
California Military Department

U.S. Army, Colonel, Served 29 years

Throughout my 29 years of military service, I experienced complex and dynamic situations, including humanitarian and combat operations. In all settings, the military impresses that selfless service is more significant than just one person.

The basic building block of selfless service is the commitment of each team member to go a little further, endure a little longer, and look a little closer to see how they can add to the effort.

Transitioning to the California Department of Veterans Affairs and the California Military Department after my military career allowed me to continue public service, and most importantly, to utilize the selfless service mentality.

This attitude was infectious — it wasn’t about “me” but “we” — as my fellow teammates demonstrated selfless service without fail, serving a greater cause than oneself. I’m a firm believer in the motto, “Public service is selfless service, and selfless service is larger than just one person.”

Learn more about Julian Bond, the 2022 Spotlight on Excellence Award winner.

John Dunnigan

Senior Staff Counsel,
Department of Water Resources

U.S. Air Force, Major, 10 years
U.S. Air Force Reserves, 8 years

I served in the U.S. Air Force on active duty for 10 years, and subsequently served eight years as a U.S. Air Force reservist while working full time for the state of California. My last assigned base closed, whereupon I chose to retire as a Major following 18 years of service.

The military instilled in me attributes that proved helpful in my state service career. I often worked in teams and was given a lot of responsibility supervising people at a young age — both of which prepared me for my state service assignments.

The most important thing the military taught me is that no matter the obstacle or hardship, your purpose is to accomplish the mission, a focus that remained with me while performing my state service duties.

I very much enjoyed both the military and state service. While they were very different, they both focused on supporting their most valuable asset — their people. It has been my great honor and privilege to serve them both.

Travis Antoniono

Investment Director,
CalPERS Investment Office

U.S. Air Force, Lieutenant, served 2 years

The fast-paced, complex, tactical, and strategic aspects of serving in the military provided a great foundation to working in CalPERS’ Investment Office, where managing large-scale projects and making data-driven and decisive calls is a normal occurrence. Be it in the U.S. Air Force or CalPERS, carrying out your duties, putting service before yourself, and having a hyperfocus on accomplishing the mission holds true.

Did You Know About These Veterans Perks?

Did you know U.S. military veterans working for a CalPERS-covered employer may be eligible to purchase public agency military service credit — one of the factors used to calculate your future retirement benefits?

Or that the state of California has a Veterans’ Preference program that places participants at the top of the eligibility list if they achieve a passing score in an open examination/assessment?

Are You a Veteran?

Are you a CalPERS member who has also served in the U.S. armed forces? If so, we’d love to hear from you to possibly include in a future article. Please email with your full name, the branch you served in, highest rank achieved, and total years of service.