When Lawrence Doll returned to the U.S. from Vietnam in 1969 he never forgot the help he received during his transition into civilian life.
“There was a silent majority that wanted to work with veterans and most of them were former veterans and it was something I’ll never forget,” said Doll, who was drafted into the Marines and served as a Scout Sniper.
Doll was wounded during his second tour in combat and spent four months in the U.S. Naval Hospital in Guam before coming to the United States.
Doll’s duty in Vietnam earned him two Purple Hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry and a prestigious appointment to the United States Marine Corps Honor Guard in Washington, D.C.
He is now returning the favor to other veterans by hiring them at the Wall Street firm he founded named Drexel Hamilton.
One of his company’s goals is to employ as many veterans possible and offer meaningful employment opportunities to disabled vets who want a career in financial services.
The firm maintains a concentration of 40 percent or greater veteran employees and 20 percent or greater disabled veteran employees.
“We’re trying to give these young man and women an opportunity to fish for the rest of their lives,” said Doll.
The firm currently employs 39 veterans, 21 of whom are Service Disabled veterans.
“When we started this, we wanted to help disabled veterans. We match a Wall Street veteran with a combat veteran and we let them perform in all duties and after that they decide which side of the business they’ll like to get involved in. We let them see where they are most talented,” added Doll.
One of those veterans hired is former U.S. Army Infantry Officer and West Point graduate John John Martinko who is now an Equity Syndicate at Drexel Hamilton.
Martinko who was honorably discharged from active duty, said transitioning to civilian life was hard.
“My job in the Army was to walk long distances with heavy weight so when I came out and became a civilian some of the job interviews they would ask, what do you know about the financial industry and I didn’t have a good answer,” he said.
But for Martinko, the skills he learned in the battlefield helped him in his new career.
“A lot of the skill sets that apply specifically to a trading floor are those that you find in the battlefield and there are some things you learn overseas that can pay off on a trading floor,” he added.
Prior to joining Drexel Hamilton, Martinko worked for seven years on the Equity Trading floor at Credit Suisse as an Equity Trader and Sales Trader.
Doll understands the benefits and importance of hiring veterans.
“I had a lot of friends who came back from Vietnam and we all cope with war in a different way. I put it in a box in my mind and moved on but I have friends who struggled with it and I wish I could have helped them. Now I know what these kids are going through and they need a job more than anything,” said Doll, who is the co-founder of the Wall Street Warfighters Foundation with General Peter Pace.
Another is former U.S. Air Force Reserve’s 327th Airlift Squadron veteran Michael Steigerwald, who now serves as Vice President at Drexel Hamilton. During one of his last missions, he had an incident that prevented him from flying.
“I was sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. I was trying to figure out what to do. I had to reinvent myself and the navigator I flew with during that last mission found a program that brought us to Drexel Hamilton,” said Steigerwald. He is currently working on municipal trading and has been at the firm for two years now. “It is not something you learn overnight but joining Drexel Hamilton was a life changing event for me.”
Doll said he understands the challenges these veterans face when they join the firm.
“Wall Street is a very challenging street and it is also an Ivy League street and these kids are not Ivy League but they’re already trained. They are team players and they are willing to do anything,” he said. “They work hard and easy to get along with and very bright.”
Second Tour is an ABC News digital series profiling the lives of military veterans who are doing unique things in the civilian world. For more stories, click here.
ABC News video editor Arthur Niemynski contributed to this report.