Before she was even 20 years old, Investment Sales Associate Michele Brune was quickly gaining an understanding of and appreciation for service. From realizing the Navy was giving her an opportunity she wouldn't have had otherwise to truly understanding the sacrifices of our men and women in the armed forces – Brune's military career gave her more than valuable skills and the job of her dreams. It gave her a lifelong heart for service.
"The Navy changed my life," Brune said. "Since I was 12 years old, I'd wanted to be an air traffic controller, but I came from a background of poverty. There was no way my family was going to be able to send me to FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) school, and the Navy recruiter gave me the best line of all time when he told me the Navy had its own air force and air traffic controllers."
Initially stationed at Barbers Point in Hawaii, Brune supported the P-3 fixed-wing aircrafts that searched for submarines in the Pacific Ocean. Three months later the government closed Barbers Point and relocated Brune to the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps base. At the time, Kaneohe Bay was one of only two combined U.S. military bases in the world, and that's where she met her Marine husband.
Today, military service is a family tradition for the Brune family. Their son recently completed five years in the Marine Corps, and their daughter, who is going to be a bomb technician, joined the Air Force this year.
This year, BB&T gave Brune another opportunity to serve our country – by serving as captain for her team's Lighthouse Project. Her team elected to support Boulder Crest Retreat in Virginia, one of only two rehabilitation centers in the country dedicated to helping veterans and first responders.
"I don't think you can put into words what that project meant to me," she said. "Whether the veterans are amputees, have post-traumatic stress disorder or anything in between, they – and their families – can get the therapy they need free at Boulder Crest. I know if I needed help, it would mean so much to know the community supported me and Boulder Crest was there for me and my family."
Brune's team's Lighthouse Project was one of 68 this year that supported nearly 60,000 veterans. And since the inception of The Lighthouse Project, BB&T associates have completed approximately 430 such projects, helping about 389,000 veterans.
"When I reflect on my family's military service and what I experienced at Boulder Crest, especially on Veterans Day, I hope people remember freedom isn't free, and our veterans put their lives on the line to protect us, our country and our freedom."