Honoring Veterans Campaign - Eddie VanBuren

Veteran, Army   

As I walked out of my 8 a.m. Psychology class during my freshmen year of college I saw a group of students gathered around a very small TV in the corner of a study. An airplane had struck the World Trade Center… I was in disbelief. By the time I walked back to my dorm room the second plane had struck the towers. I knew almost instantly that it was an attack and that it was going to change the trajectory of my life forever.

My father was a civilian working for the Department of Defense’s Contract Management Agency and I called him immediately. I told him I was going to drop out and join the service. He begged me to stay in school, finish my degree, and try to join as an Officer…since he always pointed me in the right direction, I followed his advice. I chose the Army because I wanted to be in the Infantry and on the “front lines.” I also knew the size of the Army would provide greater opportunities to grow, promote, and lead. The Army was ALWAYS the top of my list…I had wanted to be a Soldier as long as I could remember.

During my 10 years on Active Duty I was stationed in Georgia three times, upstate New York, and Hawaii. I spent the bulk of my career as an Infantry Officer. In 2007, I lead an Infantry Platoon during the troop surge in northern Iraq. After combat I commanded an Infantry Basic Training Company and two Stryker Infantry Companys. I finished my career as an Assistant Professor of Military Science & Leadership for the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!). I left service at the rank of Captain in 2016 and transitioned into public administration/service. 

When I look back now on my military experience, I feel that it is invaluable. I was thrown into extreme leadership positions at 22 years old, learned hard lessons, grew, and have been a leader ever since. I have a roller coaster of memories…adventure, stress, triumph, defeat, joy, fear…and all of the above. One of my most proud moments was at graduation of the U.S. Army Ranger School when my Dad pinned my Ranger Tab on my shoulder.

Transitioning in 2016 to civilian life was very difficult for me. I was unsure where I fit in, what skills were transferable, and if anyone would give me a chance. Thankfully, I found my way in City government and haven’t looked back. Leaving service was scary and it took me quite some time to find purpose again professionally. The habits, skills, and style that made me successful in the service transitioned very well into operational management. It has helped me tremendously as I took on the role of Deputy Public Works Director over Maintenance Operations here with the City of Lake Oswego. I take great pride knowing that I still serve my country, now at the local government level.

I have two daughters and I hope when I grow old they will be proud of my service. Whether history agrees or disagrees with the wars we have fought, I hope they know that the Soldiers who were there served honorably with the flag on their shoulder. I am a proud Veteran and I always will be. There are very few opportunities in life to wear the American flag on your arm and represent your country…I am very grateful for mine.