An Army Veteran who can handle whatever comes his way

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.

Gary Hwang came to DVNF in September of 2017 as our Accounting Assistant. We’re pleased to have this combat veteran join our team!

Below is our interview with Gary about his background and his service.

Tell us a little about your service – branch, rank, interesting positions you had, what your job was, where you served, when you served, how long, etc. Did you serve in combat?

I served a total of 6 years from 2008 to 2014. I was in the MD National Guard for 3 years as a 92Y supply specialist and I served another 3 years Active Duty Army as an Infantryman. I was a SPC E-4. I did one deployment to OEF Afghanistan 2011-2012 as an Infantryman. We were in Wardak and Logar provinces usually going on patrols and providing security for the EOD.

Where are you originally from? 

I was born in South Korea and came to the states when I was 2 years old. Grew up most of my life in Maryland and Virginia.

Why did you want to join the military?

Well ever since I was a kid I wanted to join the military. The movies like Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan, and Band of Brothers really got me interested in becoming a Soldier. Also, I come from a poor background so I had to help pay for the family bills so I thought the best way would be to join the military.

What was your favorite part about serving in the military?

My favorite part about serving in the military would probably be all the great friends I made and the bonds we had together. I think it’s really hard to duplicate that in the civilian world.

Is there anything important or some life skill you think you learned in the military that has been valuable to you in the civilian world?

I feel like there are a lot of life lessons I learned in the military that college couldn’t teach you. I feel like my service in the army has prepared me for anything in life and taught me how to persevere through tough times and to prepare for the worst case scenarios. It’s also taught me discipline, taking action instead of verbal action, and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.

What was the toughest thing for you when you left the military? Was there anything that surprised you, or affected you in some other way?

Honestly, I don’t think there was anything tough about leaving the military. For me the civilian life is much easier in most ways. But if I had to choose something I would say the toughest thing for me was not having the great support of friends and brothers in the military. It’s not something you can find at work or at a campus, it’s something you build during tough times.

What advice would you give to a veteran who is in the transition back to civilian life?

I would definitely recommend have a set plan before you transition back to civilian life. You can do 1 of 4 things when you transition out.

1) You can work
2) You can go to school
3) You can start your own business
4) You can do nothing

With each of those just have a detailed plan on what you want and looking for. If you want to work in a certain industry make sure you have the qualifications for it and see what companies you want to work for. As for school, do research on what exactly you want to do as a career then work your way back to see what degree you need for that career and you have plenty of options as for which schools you wish to attend with the GI Bill. For starting a business, that’s just a lot of planning, researching, and taking action. Lastly, if you want to do nothing there’s really nothing wrong with that. You deserve the break but don’t let that get you complacent because we’re all meant to do great things.