Local veterans reflect on how service affected their lives

Flags in front of building

Flags stand in front of the Defense Logistics Agency at Fort Belvoir. (DLA image)

Thanks to the proximity of Fort Belvoir, Marine Corps Base Quantico, Joint Base Andrews and other military installations, many military retirees and veterans live and work along the Richmond Highway corridor. In honor of Veterans Day, we asked a few of them what one thing they learned from their military service that has best served them as business owners or leaders.

Thompkins headshot


“Long ago, when I was first introduced to the idea of being in the military, it was suggested to me that through the Army ROTC program at the University of Richmond, the military would train me to become an officer and a leader. At the time, I was a bit timid and lacking in self-confidence. Well, the combination of a high school guidance counselor who strongly suggested that I needed to have a bit more Hutzpah, combined with the military training and my first job where they threw me to the wolves (so to speak) was extremely impactful. 

In fact, the Army Officer training was instrumental in my getting the very first job with MCI in telecommunications.  The military and leadership training were key reasons why I was offered that first job out of college. It also helped me develop into the person I am today and helped me build my confidence. I had a successful 16-year career in satellite communications that I believe was launched due to the military experience. I just kept building on that experience.”

Alison Ross-Tompkins, Director of Sales, The Fairfax (U.S. Army Reserve)

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“The one thing I learned from my military service that has served me best as principal of Mount Vernon is that leadership is about relationships built over time and rooted in trust. Once people believe the leader trusts them to do what is right for students (our customers) and that the leader has the best interest of the organization in mind when making decisions, they willingly sacrifice whatever is necessary to accomplish the mission.”  

Anthony Terrell, Principal, Mount Vernon High School (U.S. Navy)

Jones holding beer at brewery


“As a navigator in the Coast Guard, I learned early that while your destination remains constant, you often have to adjust your track line given changes in the weather (operating environment). This has helped me understand that you should always keep a true North in mind but be flexible on the course to get there.”

Casey Jones, CEO, Fair Winds Brewing Company (U.S. Coast Guard)

Three staffers

Dr. Don Brideau, left, with Dr. Alquietta Brown and Dr. Joe Pina, who are also veterans.

“The model of leadership is a servant model of leadership.  The leader’s role is to provide clarity in the mission.  This provides alignment with all members of the team.  The aligned team is engaged and leads to the ultimate results that the team is seeking to achieve.  As a leader, your role is to break down the barriers for your team so that they can achieve those results.”

Don Brideau, CEO, Inova Mount Vernon Hospital (U.S. Navy)