FirstEnergy Employees Honor Military Members this Christmas  

Jonathon Hladky Volenteers at National Cemetery

Decorating the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman, Ohio, with Wreaths Across America was more than just a volunteer opportunity for FirstEnergy line and substation supervisor Jonathon Hladky. 

As he helped place the wreaths on the gravesites of veterans, Hladky reflected on the legacy of his FirstEnergy colleague, Chuck Nemec. Nemec spent time serving in the U.S. Navy before beginning his 36-year-long career with FirstEnergy. Hladky was at Nemec’s burial when he passed away in 2018.

"That was my first opportunity to go to the Rittman cemetery and witness a funeral there, and it was pretty special. Nemec was really well liked and respected – a really good guy," he said. 

Nemic was already more than a decade into his FirstEnergy career in 1995 when Hladky graduated high school and joined the Marines. It would be years before the two would meet and become friends after Hladky joined FirstEnergy as a meter reader in 2010. While he doesn't come from a huge military family, Hladky has always had an appreciation for those who serve. His grandfather was in the Navy, and his stepfather, a Vietnam veteran, served alongside the legendary Marine Corps sniper, Carlos Hathcock. 

Hladky himself was deployed overseas in 1996 when conflict began in Albania. 

Now, Hladky is married and has three children ages fourteen, twelve and two. He says he makes it a priority to teach them about the importance of what those in the armed forces do and give up for their country. He wants them to see how meaningful the support, like decorating cemeteries around the holidays, is. 

"These people's lives are affected permanently. Loss has torn apart some families – kids growing up without dads or moms because of sacrifices they made for their county," Hladky said. "Having people show respect by laying wreaths at the graves hopefully solidifies that the sacrifices they made were worth it to them. At a hard time like Christmas, when you're missing a family member, it means a lot to see the support."

Knowing he will likely one day be buried in very cemetery he volunteered at this year, Hladky says he can only hope the support for veterans continues to grow. 

In addition to participating in Wreaths Across America ceremony in Rittman, FirstEnergy employees also volunteered at the Ft. Indiantown Gap National Cemetery in Annville, Pennsylvania; the West Virginia National Cemetery in Grafton, West Virginia; the Northern New Jersey Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Somerset Hills, New Jersey; and the BG William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Wrightstown, New Jersey. 

To view a gallery of photos from the events, please visit our Flickr album

Trees for Troops Donation Extends Holiday Support for Military Families

To help make the holidays brighter for U.S. military families, the FirstEnergy Foundation also has donated $15,000 to the 2022 Trees for Troops program. This is the fourth year the Foundation has provided financial support or employee volunteers to assist with the program, which has distributed more than 300,000 Christmas trees to military members and their families stationed abroad and domestically since 2005. 

"As a 32-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, I've witnessed the positive impact a kind gesture can have on a military family who’s either stationed away from their extended families, or their loved one is away during the holidays serving their country," said Troy Rhoades, a FirstEnergy external affairs consultant and a co-chair of the company’s Veterans and Allies employee Business Resource Group. "FirstEnergy is proud to team up with Trees for Troops to bring a festive spirit and joy to the brave men and women who selflessly serve our country.” 

The Trees for Troops program is a partnership between the Christmas Spirit Foundation, FedEx and Christmas tree growers across the country. Over the next few weeks, FedEx Freight drivers will deliver nearly 16,000 trees to dozens of military bases across the country. Nearly 350 trees will be distributed to service men and women at Naval Weapons Station Earle in Monmouth County, New Jersey, located within FirstEnergy’s service area. 

FirstEnergy proudly employs more than 1,000 past and present members of the U.S. Armed Forces. FirstEnergy has been recognized by Military Friendly® as military-friendly employer, earning the Military Friendly Employer silver designation and Top 10 Supplier Diversity Program designation for 2022. 

For more information about FirstEnergy's commitment to U.S. service members and veterans, visit

Last Modified: March 2, 2023