In honor of Veterans Day, we are spotlighting our very own Homie Veterans who served our country. Learn more about their insights and experiences from their time serving, their transition to a career in real estate, their current roles at Homie, and how they continue to help the veteran community.
Niecy Walker, Air Force Veteran & Nevada Buyer Agent 1. Branch of service: U.S. Air Force
2. What was your rank? MSgt (E-7)
3. When and where did you serve? I served from June 2001 – July 2013. I was stationed in or performed work in Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Germany, New Mexico, Mississippi, and Nevada.
4. Why did you pick the service branch you joined? I thought I would go to college and had been looking at Florida A&M, although I knew I couldn’t afford to go. After taking the ASVAB in high school, I started getting calls from the recruiters and really liked what the Air Force recruiter was selling so I went with him. I was so excited to leave, I left home 11 days after graduation! I’ve had a great career and life experiences since joining the Air Force.
5. What were a few of your most memorable experiences? So many but a couple of things that stand out happened while I was in Japan and Turkey. In Japan, I was part of a homeless ministry that went out in the local Japanese communities to give hot meals to homeless Japanese citizens. It was such a unique cultural experience that helped me grow. While in Turkey, I would enjoy participating in local Turkish potlucks where they always requested my macaroni and cheese. It was good but my lasagna was better, but they liked the macaroni so I would bring it. I used to love the Turkish meals, such as cheese bread, lamb, and tomato salad. It was a great cultural experience and anytime we were not locked on base (due to bomb threats or protests), I was out in the community learning and eating!
6. What made you want to start a career in real estate? I thought of my 20-year career in leadership and human resources and all the time I have spent developing people for different career opportunities and decided a different approach is what I truly wanted to pursue. Being a real estate agent is a career I constantly heard from others that I’d be good at and went for it! I’m so glad I did because the development and experience I’m gaining and sharing is amazing!
7. Did your service impact your career? How? The leadership and problem-solving skills I was taught in the Air Force have been so helpful toward my real estate career and keeps me on track with what I need to accomplish.
Jamison Lunnen, Army Veteran & Senior Director of Real Estate 1. Branch of service: Utah Army National Guard
2. What was your rank? Sargeant, E5
3. When and where did you serve? Active Duty Joint Language Training Center, Tikrit, and Iraq. 2010-11.
4. Why did you pick the service branch you joined? I believe heavily in continuing education to assist my community. By joining the Utah Guard, I felt that I could stay close to my loved ones, further my education, assist my community when in need, and serve my country should the need arise.
5. What were a few of your most memorable experiences? Source Ops in Iraq, Basic Training, and Counter Drug ops.
6. What made you want to start a career in real estate? After I left the military, I began a career as an attorney. I found Homie as outside counsel and was sold by the mission and drive to disrupt an antiquated system.
7. Did your service impact your career? How? In more ways than one. I learned the vast majority of my leadership skills while serving. I also learned how to calmly work through adversity and find solutions during stressful situations. Both have aided me immensely as we’ve scaled Homie.
8. What advice would you give fellow veterans wanting to achieve homeownership? There are so many people willing to help you. The benefits are there for you to take advantage of. Don’t wait. We’re experiencing an unprecedented market where one can grow their equity as a veteran with very little down. Mortgages are often less expensive than rent. Get in there and find your dream home now. You’ve earned this!
Wayne Graham, Navy Veteran & Arizona Head of Real Estate 1. Branch of service: U.S. Navy
2. What was your rank? E4 Petty Officer 3rd Class
3. When and where did you serve? 1987-1991. Pt. Mugu Naval Air Station, Pt. Mugu, California.
4. Why did you pick the service branch you joined? I have family that served in both the Army and Navy, and the Navy just seemed a better fit for me.
5. What were a few of your most memorable experiences? Really it’s the relationships you make with your fellow sailors. Too many great experiences to count because of the people you work with. Combining great people serving their country with you, and working on Navy jets every day made for many memorable experiences.
6. What made you want to start a career in real estate? It allowed more flexibility for work/life balance that was missing in my life as a school administrator.
7. Did your service impact your career? How? I traded four years of service so that I could use the GI Bill to help pay for my education to become a teacher when I got out of the service.
8. What advice would you give fellow veterans wanting to achieve homeownership? Just like when you are serving, never give up. Tough market conditions exist right now for many buyers but keep your chin up, and never give up. You’ll be successful through sheer will and perseverance.
Batya Cruz, Marine Veteran & Colorado Listing Agent 1. Branch of service: Marine Corps
2. What was your rank? Corporal
3. When and where did you serve? 1997-2002
4. Why did you pick the service branch you joined? I always did (and still do), like to challenge myself. I heard they were the hardest and toughest.
5. What were a few of your most memorable experiences? So many to choose from! I’d have to say first and foremost boot camp and MCT (a war type training that follows boot camp). A person is definitely brought to the edge of their limits that they didn’t even know existed, both physically and mentally in boot camp. I would’ve otherwise never known just how much I can do.
6. What made you want to start a career in real estate? At the time I was a single mom with a special needs child and another small child. I had no education and not a penny to my name. Real estate is the one career option with the shortest schooling with the highest potential earnings if you work hard. I knew I could work hard.
7. Did your service impact your career? How? Absolutely! If I was a business owner I would always choose a Marine Veteran as an employee. Loyalty, professionalism, and work ethic are stamped in our souls. Being a Marine changes your life forever.
8. What advice would you give fellow veterans wanting to achieve homeownership? It is not only a possibility, but the veteran’s benefit of obtaining a VA Home Loan makes it so affordable with little to zero money out of pocket. Combine that with having a Homie agent that’s got your back, and taking advantage of all the amazing Homie incentives, makes it that much easier. You served your country, you deserve to own your piece of this beautiful land!
Donta Tanner, Navy Veteran & Nevada Buyer Agent
1. Branch of service: Navy
2. What was your rank? Entered as an Enlisted Recruit (E-1) and retired as an Officer Lieutenant (O-3E)
3. When and where did you serve? Active duty from February 1993 to March 2013. Served deploying all over the world including Africa, Australia, Singapore, Bahrain, Guam, Japan, Hong Kong, and the Middle East. Stationed, traveled, and attended training throughout the United States to include extended stays in the following cities: San Diego, CA; Temecula, CA; Bremerton, WA; Okinawa, Japan; Athens, GA; Groton, CT; Oahu, HI, and Tampa, FL.
4. Why did you pick the service branch you joined? I wanted to see the world.
5. What were a few of your most memorable experiences? Working with the Secret Service.
6. What made you want to start a career in real estate? The Military helped hone my critical thinking and problem-solving skill sets. I have always loved helping others and being a real estate agent is a great way to do both while serving my community.
7. Did your service impact your career? How? Serving definitely impacted me positively personally and professionally in several ways. Mostly, the Military instilled senses of discipline and attention to detail that has enabled success in many aspects of my life.
8. What advice would you give fellow veterans wanting to achieve homeownership? Do it. The journey to homeownership and real estate investing are an accumulation of choices that have historically impacted family legacy…don’t make decisions in a vacuum, seek out help from experts who are professional and caring to improve your decisions and positively impact you and your family the best.
Housing Webinar for Veterans and More
Homie will host a homeownership resources webinar for Veterans on Thursday, Nov. 11 from 9 – 10:30 a.m. PST via livestream on Homie’s YouTube channel here.
Participants will learn about housing resources available to Veterans including the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) lending program, state homebuyer’s assistance funds, local housing counseling agencies, and more. ALL veterans and military spouses are invited! Anyone interested in buying a home is welcome to join!
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