For the past few years, we at DNA Behavior have always acknowledged and celebrated our community of veterans on National Veterans Day. We take it to heart to honor those who wear and have worn the uniform of our armed forces.
I have served in the Air Force for a few years and can honestly say that the camaraderie you experience in the armed forces is unlike any other bond. The experience is life-changing and teaches you a great deal about the human condition and our natural behavior.
I’m always moved and encouraged to meet fellow veterans. Throughout the years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting a few and today I would like to pay tribute to one of them.
Meet Brian Sulc
Brian Sulc is the Executive Director of the Office of Intelligence & Analysis (I&A) at the Department of Homeland Security. He’s been leading the Intelligence Enterprise Training Initiative since 2019 and has been part of I&A since 2004. At a very young age, Brian knew that he wanted to make a difference in the world. He’s always been moved and motivated by the stark distinction between good and evil. In his own words, he simply wanted to be one of the good guys.
After graduating high school, he joined Cornell University and was part of the Navy ROTC program, Marine Option. Straight out of college, he was commissioned into the Marine Corps and became an infantry platoon commander. He spent the next 5 years in the infantry battalion serving various roles, it was not only the beginning of his career but also was his first experience in training.
Brian then moved on to take the role of Deputy Director of the Instructional Management School at Camp Pendleton, California and made a major career change right after that. He decided to become an attorney and went from the Marine Corps to law school.
The interesting thing about his decision is that he didn’t necessarily have any kind of lifelong ambition about becoming an attorney, he was seeking an intellectually challenging academic experience, a “boot camp of the mind.” He found himself enjoying his time at law school and became a prosecutor, spending eight quite fulfilling years in the role.
A life-changing event
Brian can still remember it as if it had happened yesterday. It was a Tuesday morning; he was sitting at a desk on the 11th floor eying a stack of files he needed to go through for preliminary hearings. He’d been working as a prosecutor in Arlington County in Virginia, and this was a normal day for him. Suddenly, he saw all the police officers running out of the courtroom headed in the same direction. He looked around for an explanation, then his eyes met the window where the black fume of smoke was all you could see on the horizon.
The day was 9/11, and the building was the Pentagon right after it was bombed.
Even as a prosecutor, Brian had been continuing his military service in the reserves. Witnessing what happened that day, triggered the next season of his life. He returned to active duty in the Marine Corps, joined the post 9/11 efforts spending the most of the four years in the Marine Corps, including a tour in Iraq where his actions resulted in being awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious achievement in combat.
Brian returned home, but not to re-engage as a prosecutor. 9/11 had changed him and sharpened his resolve to make the world a better place. He joined the Department of Homeland Security was where he believed he could make a difference and a contribution post military service.
The servant leadership approach
A lot of things happened in Brian’s career since he came back from deployment. Prior to leading the Intelligence Enterprise Training Initiative, he worked as Director of the Border Security Division, which countered with cross border threats such as drug trafficking, smuggling, and similar issues. He then led the effort to establish the National Counterterrorism Innovation, Technology, and Education (NCITE) Center of Excellence
–back to training came in the form of the Intelligence Enterprise Training Initiative. He had been in intel operations most of his career, but the counterterrorism center of excellence and this position marked his return.
The interesting thing about Brian is that he has his own philosophy when it comes to training and leadership. Although he values the technical aspect of any mission, it’s always been more about the people for him, and the opportunity for inspiring and leading others to succeed.
In his own words, Brian embraces the servant leadership approach. It’s what drives him. He believes that by having a clear mission, a distinctive threat or enemy to fight and providing support to everyone on your team, you can unlock a level of success that you may not have encountered before. It is not about you the leader, it is about your team, what they need from you to succeed, and your commitment to providing that for them. It is not only about individual performance; it is about helping people operate for the greater good of the team.
The identity of a veteran
Any person that has worn the uniform of our armed forces admits that it is more than a job. It is more than a mission or a vocation. The selfless act of dedicating every waking moment to the well-being of your nation is undoubtedly part of your identity.
Whether you transition to a different career or you carry on the mission and work on the federal level similar to the path chosen by Brian, your identity as a veteran will always surface in all aspects of your life.
When asking Brian what he wants to be known for and how he wants to be seen by the people he leads and spends time training, he says: ”I hope that I am seen as a great example or even the epitome of a servant leader. When the going gets tough, even when it may costs me personally, I’m practicing what I preach. We look out for the guy or the woman on our left and right. The mission is best accomplished by being a servant leader and by not putting yourself first.”
Have you ever met someone in your life and thought to yourself “that person is a real-life hero!”. When it comes to Brian Sulc, that is exactly how I felt when I first met him. People like him make me think that every day should be a celebration of our veterans, not only one day a year.
From all of us here at DNA Behavioral, Brian, we salute you and thank you for your service.