Army Veteran Finds Valued Mission


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Retired U.S. Army
Created on November 8, 2013

Every day I go to work wearing a small pin on my coat’s lapel. The pin is black and gold with a white star in the center. Although the pin is no larger than half an inch, it represents more than 26 years of military service.

I retired from the U.S. Army approximately one and a half years ago. Leaving the organization that I credit with instilling tremendous values in me was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Honestly, I was petrified to leave and face a world outside of the disciplined parameters that made up my Army life.

I admit I had a complete military career. I served in numerous overseas deployments. I served as a mentor, a leader and I had great mentors and leaders who will forever be a part of my life as well. So, in reality, I was ready to move-on and share my knowledge as a veteran in another capacity.

This is where my fear kicked in. I served as a public affairs specialist in the Army. I told the Army story. It was a great opportunity to highlight the tremendous accomplishments our men and women in uniform were doing for our country. I thought I would never find that same inner-fire that kept me going for 26 years of showcasing our military members—but I was wrong.

Al BetacourtIt’s been six months since I joined the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). This is where I once again found my inner-fire. In fact, prior to joining the team, I remember feeling chills when I read the Agency’s one line mission statement: MBDA is a leader in strengthening the economy and improving the lives of all Americans.

So now, I’ve turned my warrior ethos of placing the mission first, not accepting defeat, never quitting and never, ever leaving a fallen comrade, to highlighting the MBDA mission. A mission dedicated to the growth of minority-owned businesses and one that ultimately contributes tremendously to the growth of our economy and creates much-needed jobs.

Today, I no longer showcase the Army’s 1st Infantry Division mission. Instead, I highlight minority-owned business success stories from Ohio, Alabama, Virginia and many other places around the country. I’ve found a strong bond between my former Army mission and my current mission here with the Department of Commerce. Both worlds represent the strength of our country.

I’ve traded boots for dress shoes and a uniform for a suit. My motivation has once again kicked into gear. I can’t lie and say I don’t miss the soldiers—I do.

But I can always look at the small pin on my coat’s lapel that says Retired U.S. Army and smile because it reminds me every day of where I came from and what’s required of me as a veteran.

I’m proud to have served my country and I’m proud to be a veteran working for MBDA.

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Last updated: 04/19/2017 - 4:11pm