During a 13-year career with the U.S. Navy, Andrew Balzer defended the country and ensured everything was in working order on the ship. But he also learned as much as possible.
“I took advantage of the training we were given, not only through military schooling, but with civilian and commercial licenses and certifications,” says Balzer, information technology network administrator at $890 million asset 1st Advantage Federal Credit Union in Newport News, Va. “I took advantage, and that’s why I’m sitting in the seat I am today.”
Balzer signed the papers to enlist in the Navy when he was still a junior in high school. He went to boot camp in 1999 and was assigned to the USS Briscoe, a Spruance-class destroyer, as an electronics technician. While on the ship, Balzer was in charge of making sure the radar and navigational equipment was in working order.
While docked, Balzer was stationed at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. He er also served on the USS Harry S. Truman for a year and was a part of Strike Group 8 for the Carrier Air Wing aboard the USS Eisenhower.
Balzer’s first deployment was on the USS Briscoe. The ship was in port on Oct. 12, 2000, when he learned the USS Cole had been hit with an explosive set off by a group of suicidal terrorists from al-Qaeda when it was docked in Yemen. The attack killed 17 sailors and injured 40.
Balzer was a first class E6 when his service ended in 2012.
His time in the Navy taught Balzer the importance of building camaraderie between teammates. It’s a lesson he’s carried on into his career at 1st Advantage Federal.
“It’s so important because when you’re trying to do something alone, you’ll get it done OK. But when you have other people to help and to carry the hard work or the work you can’t do, that’s what makes it successful,” Balzer says. “That’s one of the biggest lessons that was taught to me, the teamwork that is instilled in you and the trust you have in the person next to you.”