In honor of this Veteran’s Day, we had the privilege of speaking with George Beylouny, a US Navy veteran who works in our Woodstock community as the Senior Branch Manager of Silverton Mortgage. This interview is specifically catered to talk about George as a veteran and about how we can support veterans in our community. Naturally, we decided to do this interview because of yesterday’s holiday, but also because we recently learned that there is very little support in Cherokee County for underprivileged veterans. We wanted to shine a light on this and offer you small, realistic things that you can do to honor veterans in your community.
Thank you, George, for agreeing to speak with us!
Q: In what capacity or arena did you serve and for how long?
A: I was an Electronics Technician in the US Navy. I went in as enlisted and made it to the rank of E-5. I maintained all types of electronic equipment, which included RADAR systems and communication gear. For my first duty assignment, I was stationed at NAS Cubi Point, in the Philippines. I was 21 years old and inexperienced with travel outside the United States. I really knew nothing about the rest of the world.
The Philippines is made up of over 7,000 Islands and sits just north of the equator. It is a beautiful country but very poor. I had never seen such poverty in my life, but what really stood out was how friendly the people were. When I was out in town walking through the city, strangers would call me over and ask if I would sit and talk with them. They would buy me a drink and food, even though they had very little money. That’s also where I met my wife. When I was there, it was the largest naval base outside of the United States. Then on June 12th, 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted in what was the second-largest volcanic eruption of the 20th century. It totally destroyed the base leaving a foot or more of ash everywhere. During that time, the US government couldn’t come to an agreement with the Philippine government on payment to keep the bases, and the US pulled out. I was on the last plane out of there. I was stationed in the Philippines for 3 years and then in Guam for 2 years.
Having served for over six years, my wife and I decided it was time for us to start a new chapter in our life. We had two small children at the time and wanted to give small business a try. We packed up and moved to the Philippines to start an import/export business there, which we did for a year. Upon my return, for the next seven years, I went into Electronic sales. While I was working, I went back to school to get an MBA at Goizueta Business School at Emory University. One of my classmates owned a mortgage brokerage and offered me a job part-time. He was highly successful, and I admired him. I began my career as a Loan Officer in mortgage lending in 2003 and had a really great four years before the crash in 2007. I hung in through the crash working for eight different mortgage companies before I found a home at Silverton. I worked my way up in a growing and thriving company that focuses on putting the client’s interests first. I really like the relationships that are built and endure in this business. I like being able to help people reach their goals and thrive.
Q: What do you do now?
A: I’m the Senior Branch Manager at the Silverton Mortgage Woodstock office. I have been running this branch for nine years and employ five loan originators and two processors. We specialize in all types of residential loans helping individuals purchase or refinance their homes. It is a great feeling assisting first time home buyers to seasoned investors improve their lives through homeownership. I really love helping people. When not working, I am a Rotarian at the Woodstock Rotary Club and a member of the Habitat for Humanity selection committee. My wife, Gemma, and I are also proud grandparents.
Q: What is your favorite memory or what was your favorite aspect of being in the service?
A: I was proud to serve. I was a bit of a rebellious kid in high school, but when I went in and was serving in the Navy I knew I was a part of something big. Seeing the rest of the world really grew me and made me understand a lot more about the world around me. It made me so much more appreciative of everything we have in the United States. One of the best parts of being in the service is meeting with others who have served. The bond among veterans is pretty remarkable. There’s really nothing like it.
Q: What is the best “thank you” citizens can give to people who have served our nation?
A: When you see someone who has served and you say, “Thanks for your service,” that goes a long way. If you see someone that is in uniform, go out of your way and say thanks. When you see the young soldiers and sailors, offer to pick up their check if you can. They are making very little but giving everything. These are tough times, and many of our service members are not making it back the way they went in.
Q: How are you honoring Veteran’s Day this year?
A: I’m going to work. I feel so grateful for the life I have, the friends I have, and the opportunities I have. When I joined the military, I was a bit lost. I really found my identity in the Navy and I’m just pleased I was able to do my small part in keeping this country great. I am a third-generation military man. My grandfather served in WWI, my uncle was in WWII, and my father was in the Korean War. I was in during the Persian Gulf War I. When I look back at the things I have accomplished in life, serving in the US Navy is right there at the top.
Q: In what ways do you think Woodstock could offer more assistance to veterans?
A: You know, Woodstock is such a patriotic place. It is a very warm and inviting community, and Veterans are honored in special programs and parades that are organized in the downtown area. I do know that more services are needed for those who are suffering from PTSD, unemployment, and homelessness. It would be great to find ways to help these individuals find their way. The VA has programs at the main hospital in Decatur, but as of right now, there’s nothing supporting such veterans in our county.