“I’m a Marine” were the words Chris Wesson heard from a friend who returned from boot camp. Hearing those words was the deciding moment of what branch of service Chris would join. Chris grew up in a family with a tradition of military service. His dad was in the Army. His grandfather was in the Navy. But Chris didn’t want to be in a particular branch. Chris wanted to be a Marine.
Before Marine recruits earn the privilege to fight and win battles for our nation, they first are trained to win their own battles of hesitation, self-doubt, and fear. Ten days after graduating high school and two weeks into a most grueling boot camp of adversity, Chris, and the rest of the new Marines were hating life. This is the time when all new Marines are taken to the marine history museum. Chris described this time as a morale booster. It gave him the encouragement needed to press through the remaining weeks of training. He said, “We learned about the history, tradition and legacy of the Marines. You get pumped up when you see what all the Marines have done!” His spirit was lifted. His motivation was rekindled. His will to persevere became anchored.
Thirteen demanding weeks of physical and mental training prepared Chris for three deployments in which he spent three months fighting from holes dug with his own hands, three months of no showers and clean clothes, and three months of only drinking water that was baked in the hot desert sun. Couple that with five years working as a security contractor in the middle east, Chris gained a new perspective and appreciation for what most Americans take for granted – “a plate of food to eat and a cold Mountain Dew to drink.” His perspective is noteworthy to us all – “America is the greatest nation on earth! People don’t realize what they have until they’ve been out to see what the rest of the world looks like.”
Chris’s greatest challenge integrating back into civilian life was leaving Marine lifestyle. He said, “You’re in it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You build bonds and even deeper bonds when stationed overseas. You come back in the civilian world and it’s tough to form those type of bonds.” How did he overcome this challenge? In his words, “Marines are taught that whatever happens, adapt and overcome.” And that’s exactly what he did.
The mental toughness Chris learned serves him well in the civilian world. “When a problem comes up, I look to see what the solution is and fix it. Challenges arise daily. The Marines taught me to be resilient, to move forward, and accept what comes my way.”
Fourteen years after an honorable discharge, Chris is still a Marine. He just wears a different uniform. At Benchmark Mortgage in Scottsdale, Arizona, Chris has teamed with veterans in other states to educate veterans on the benefits they have, specifically with VA loans. He’s building a network across the country of veterans helping veterans by going above and beyond VA home loans and connecting veterans with the resources they need.
To sum up Chris Wesson’s wisdom and encouragement to veterans, he says, “Find a network that you can relate to so that you remain connected to people who share similar experiences. It’s a small community, but a tight one.” For employers, he says, “There’s no better candidate than a vet. There’s hardly anything we will say no to when told there’s a need for something to get done. We go above and beyond what’s asked, we’re use to long nights and early mornings, and we have real world problem-solving experience.
You can connect with Chris at Chriswesson.us to learn more about him and his work in helping veterans through Benchmark Mortgage.