He says that the military helped him build good character. It taught him how to be self-dependent. It taught him about persistence and not to be lazy. And these were the values that kept him going in his post-military life.
Brian Chapman clung to these values after he was discharged from the United States Navy in April 2005. They have helped him through all of the tasks that he has faced since, from his work in the corporate world to his managerial positions at a couple of Cobb County bars. Chapman is currently a student at the University of West Georgia (UWG), where he is majoring in Management Information Systems (CISM). Looking back, Chapman feels that he enlisted in the military at the right time.
“I think it gave me good structure at what feels like a critical age,” says Chapman. “As a young man at 18, 19, 20, it helped form me into having responsibility and understanding consequences, and understanding that your word is your word, and you’re going to do what you do. It just helped really pretty much mold me.”
Chapman enlisted in the Navy in September 2000, three months after he graduated from North Cobb High School. By the time he was discharged, he had worked his way up from Seaman Recruit to Petty Officer Second Class.
Between March 2003 and September 2004, Chapman was deployed to Iraq on three different occasions. He can’t talk about the specifics of his duties overseas, because of his work with the National Security Agency at the time.
“The intelligence field is classified,” says Chapman. “I can’t really get into the reasons why. At that point, things were a little crazy.”
Chapman entered the workforce after his discharge. At the beginning of 2006, he started working as an operations manager at a distribution company called DistribuTech, a subsidiary of Primedia.
“So if you’ve ever seen Apartment Guide, or New Homes Guide, that company makes those, and we actually distributed the publications,” says Chapman. “A good example is if you go into Kroger, and right there in the lobby, that big black rack with all the free magazines, that. So that was the company I worked for. “
“I’d hire distributors to come in,” continues Chapman. “The contractors would come to the warehouse and pick up the books. But I was in control of the western and north sides of Atlanta. So all those Krogers, I made sure that what needed to be placed there got placed there.”
But the position would not be permanent, as Chapman was laid off in mid-2008.
“When the economy tanked, they downsized,” says Chapman. “So I was the low man on the totem pole at that point, so I stopped doing that. They shut down half of our entire office, so more than just me. They gave me the severance package. They were very good to us.”
After his time at DistribuTech, Chapman did some engineering work with his father in the summer of 2008. The following year, he became the general manager of the bars at Runaround Sue’s, which is no longer in business, and Diamond Dave’s Steakhouse in Cobb County.
Chapman left his positions at the bars in 2011.
“The hours were extremely too long, and I was tired of being up all night doing it,” says Chapman. “And me and my wife just kind of talked about it and decided that I just wasn’t going to do it anymore. It wasn’t worth the toll it was taking. And, really, it was going nowhere. So that’s when I decided that I was going to go back to school.”
Chapman enrolled at the university level with financial assistance through the post 9/11 GI Bill, which pays for his education as long as he’s enrolled full-time throughout the calendar year. After attending Georgia Highlands College (GHC) in 2012, he then transferred to UWG in the spring semester 2013.
“One of my contributing factors was [UWG’s] location,” says Chapman. “From where I live in Dallas, I could either drive to Kennesaw State, or I can drive here. I liked the [Management Information Systems] Degree Program that they have here. So I eventually said, ‘this will be the place for me.’”
Chapman plans to receive his Bachelor’s Degree in CISM by the spring of 2016, and re-enter the workforce thereafter.
Chapman says that although it’s been nine years since he was discharged from the military, the values of persistence, responsibility and independence will last for life.
“It’s an experience like any other experience that you’ve had,” says Chapman. “Let’s say you were a boy scout growing up, or whatever, you apply those things. Football players, and people that play sports, will always think back, ‘I remember doing this in practices, and coach telling me to do this,’ and working towards something. So it’s kind of like one of those things. It’s always there. You don’t have to say something. But it’s always there.”