Kaj Johansen

Assistant vice president of lending, TruChoice Federal Credit Union

November 6, 2020

I was out of high school for four years and had not accomplished much in life and was seeking something more. I knew my father served in the Navy, so I headed to the recruiter to see what they had to offer. Sure enough, my recruiter found something that sparked my interest and just like that, I was signed up.

I served on active duty in the United States Navy from 1994 to 2000. I found the military provided me structure and guidance that I was not finding on my own after high school.

I spent four of my six years overseas stationed at the Naval Air Base at Sigonella, Sicily, in the physical security department. There I learned a lot about myself, how to work with others, and what I liked and did not like to do. Most importantly, the military taught me about teamwork and the need to depend on others to be successful.

The military teaches you about core values and that is an integral part of the credit union movement. It also showed me how working as a team you can overcome nearly any obstacle that is presented.

The credit union—as well as the military—thrives when everyone is engaged and moving toward the same ultimate goal. I believe the hard work ethic and dedication needed to be successful in the military directly translates to the successful career I have at TruChoice Federal Credit Union.

After being discharged from the Navy, I started at Bowdoinham Federal Credit Union as a part-time teller. I had the opportunity to be introduced to all aspects (teller, loans, morning files, human resources, information technology, grounds maintenance, board relations, etc.) of what it takes to run a credit union. That experience closely aligned with my time in the Navy, where you did not do just one job but were expected to know how to do all the roles within the department. In the military, no matter your rank, you also gain a sense of how to lead and this applies to working at the credit union as well. One does not need to wait and obtain a certain job title to be curious, gain understanding outside of their specific role, and then help others on a similar journey.

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