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NEWS | Nov. 2, 2023

Veterans in the workforce: D.C. TAG talks strategic focus on leadership, teamwork and adaptability

By Master Sgt. Arthur Wright D.C. National Guard

Amid the vast network of job boards, talent acquisition and recruitment programs veteran-friendliness is common, but initiatives that integrate and engage veterans once they are in an organization are equally desired.

“The veteran community adds a lot to the diversity of the OCC,” said Michael J. Hsu, acting Comptroller of the Currency. “And it’s very important to the success and the efficacy of the agency. It’s being inclusive and making sure that there’s no bias towards folks because that’s how we're going to succeed in our mission.”

As an independent bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the mission of the Comptroller of the Currency ensures national banks and federal savings associations operate in a safe and sound manner, provide fair access to financial services, treat customers fairly, and comply with applicable laws and regulations. Internally, the OCC’s Veteran Employee Network also supports the needs of military veterans and reservists.

“I’m pleased that Talent Acquisition and V.E.N. have teamed up to brainstorm and implement ideas to increase the hiring of veterans and improving our numbers,” Hsu said.

Currently, 9% of the OCC workforce are veterans, 72 employees are members of the National Guard or Reserves, and 20 have actively served in the military over the last year. On Nov. 2 in recognition of Veterans Day, the OCC invited Brig. Gen. Aaron R. Dean II, The Adjutant General of the District of Columbia National Guard to serve as keynote speaker and panel moderator for a conversation with veterans.

“The Army chose me,” Dean said. “My father just happened to be the recruiting manager for the state of Washington and the Washington National Guard, so I joined.”

Dean joined the military at age 17, and next March celebrates 42 years of service.

“The Army did a great job giving me the skills that will last a lifetime,” he said. “It’s a transformational journey that continues to this day. It’s an institution that excels in taking individuals from diverse backgrounds and equipping them to become professional Soldiers.”

Dean said even during the formative years of a Soldier’s career there’s skills gained logistically and interpersonally.

“The Army is a group sport that you have to do as a team,” he said. “There’s no other option than to work together. You cannot survive on the battlefield alone. The Army is an institution that diligently imparts leadership skills into all of its members because fundamentally the Army is a people business.”

It’s an ethos employees find within the OCC’s Veteran Employee Network (V.E.N.) which recognizes the value of diverse skills and people. During a co-moderated panel conversation with Dean, a panel of employees answered questions about their military experience, work-life balance as National Guardsmen and reservists, career development, leadership, and attributes they bring to the workforce.

“There’s a definitely theme around teamwork across the services,” said Justin Solobay, OCC operational risk bank examiner and Air Force reservist. “You will have to surrender your ego and what you think you knew.”

Solobay says as a trained aircraft maintainer and flight chief, teamwork is “purposeful by design,” and the only way to accomplish mission effectively and safely. He says service members are contributing these principles in a “zero error game.”

“Many tasks that we perform rely extensively and heavily on the maker-checker principle,” he said.

Panelists also addressed discipline, teamwork, adaptability, resilience, mission-driven focus, and problem-solving skills they bring to the workforce. Agility and adaptability are also part of the OCC’s strategic plan.

“We think critically and analyze positions from various perspectives to make well-informed decisions considering both short and long-term consequences,” Dean said.

To learn more about the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Veterans Employee Network (V.E.N.) visit

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