Growing up as an army brat, I knew that military service was what I was born to do. I followed in my father’s and grandfather’s footsteps and became an infantry officer in the U.S. Army. While I was excited about the journey ahead, I knew that it would be the most difficult and demanding thing I would ever do.

After in-depth schooling and training, however, I thought I was prepared for all the possibilities of combat. On July 28, 2003, I realized how wrong I was.


The trajectory of my life changed dramatically on that day. We were driving through east Baghdad to our brigade headquarters for a coordination meeting. We were about to turn onto Palestine Street when suddenly, there was an explosion that rocked our vehicle and in a flash, filled it with dust. Immediately after, I felt a massive concussion go through my body.

My teammates and I were all injured in the aftermath, and tragically, our driver didn’t survive.

After in-depth schooling and training, however, I thought I was prepared for all the possibilities of combat. On July 28, 2003, I realized how wrong I was.

Jared Crain

Jared Crain

A life that inspired me to help others

Our driver was Specialist William (Bill) J. Maher.

Bill came from Yardley, PA and grew up in a classic American family. He went to culinary school and loved the creativity that came from cooking. He joined the army late in his 30s to see more of the world, and in a way, to help him find himself. In group settings, Bill was the first to make a joke, welcome a new teammate, or take on the hardest part of any task.

He never shied away from a challenge or taking on a leadership role. While most of our soldiers were content to explore the local nightlife scene in Germany, Bill took every advantage to travel the continent and see everything he could. Bill loved life, and he encouraged me to do the same. You’d never forget meeting him, and even now I smirk when I look back at our conversations.

Bill became a major force in my military career. After he passed, Bill was one of the reasons I began training future officers to be mentally and professionally prepared to lead soldiers who, when called to duty, would inevitably experience the loss of a brother or sister in combat.

And, when my wife and I welcomed our son into the world three years after that tragic day, we named him after Bill.

Transitioning to civilian life

During each of my five combat deployments to either Iraq or Afghanistan, I carried a piece of shrapnel from the explosion in my pocket. It served as a tangible reminder to me of my responsibility as a leader, a soldier and a man. Amazingly, this jagged piece of metal, formed out of violence, still evokes the strangest emotion: Love.

Each time I touch it, I think of Bill; who he was, and how lucky I was to have known him. I also think of my responsibility to continue to serve and honor Bill, as well as the rest of the men and women in the military community.

After I transitioned out of the military, my focus became helping other military community members transition out of service to find meaningful careers, as I did with Salesforce -a new call of duty. Helping soon-to-be-discharged soldiers who are nervous about finding employment after service, or veterans who are struggling through a career change – this is how I carry Bill’s memory.

Salesforce Military helps veterans reskill and upskill

Today, I’m grateful to work at Salesforce, leading our efforts to connect transitioning service members to career opportunities.

Since its inception in 2014, Salesforce Military has helped veterans and military spouses learn in-demand technology skills to launch meaningful and thriving careers in the Salesforce ecosystem. We also created the Salesforce Talent Alliance – an initiative that connects employers to Salesforce candidates – to scale hiring of diverse candidates such as military community members around the world in companies of all types and sizes.

I’m so proud of this work and the opportunities that we can offer our military community.

This Memorial Day, I encourage everyone to remember and honor those who have served our nation. There are many ways to do that: volunteer with charitable organizations (even those that aren’t associated with military or veterans groups), learn about some of the incredible men and women we’ve lost, like Lori Piestewa, Alwyn Cashe or Travis Manion, or talk with a veteran to learn about what made them take on the mantle of military service.

Myself, I’ll be reflecting about life, my career, and most of all, about Bill and how grateful I am for our time together.

To learn more about how Salesforce Military is helping veterans find a future in tech, read this story.

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