“At an early age, I knew I was going to serve in some way,” said retired Marine Corps Col. Curt Williamson. “In my family, there’s a long line of service going back through the Civil War.”
While he initially wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father as a fighter pilot, a failed eye exam set him on a different course. Williamson eventually became taken with the challenge of becoming a Marine and knew it would satisfy his life’s calling to serve.
For over 31 years, Williamson, who is now vice president of Business Development at Empower AI, found fulfillment in this calling and has worked hard to make a difference in the lives of other military families. As he entered higher ranks, his wife, Page, became a large part of his service. While serving on a third tour in Okinawa, Japan, they worked to support military families through the difficult transition into military life in Japan.
“The move to Okinawa is difficult for a family,” explained Williamson. “[For families], moving from North Carolina to Japan causes a lot of anxiety,” he added.
Using Facebook, Page created a group page for military wives that became a vital resource and lifeline for military families transitioning to life in Japan. On this page, the Williamson’s used their experiences to help new families with the difficult process of relocation. This online community quickly gained popularity, to the extent that it, at times, became synonymous with Williamson’s identity in the military community.
“When I’d meet a spouse who’d just arrived, and they wouldn’t greet me as Col. Williamson,” he explained. “They’d say, ‘Oh, you’re Page Williamson’s husband!’ Taking care of a Marine and his entire family was the most rewarding thing I’ve done.”
“Service is something you’re called to, but it changes significantly once you get into it,” Williamson added.
Throughout his varying roles in combat, operational work, and staff work, serving in the Marines helped Williamson to develop an enduring set of values. As he transitioned into retirement over the past year, he searched for an organization that reflected those unbending values.
“For any veteran who’s served as long as I have, you’re set in your [values]” he said, “You’re looking for an organization that has similar values, and I think you see that at Empower AI.”
As vice president of business development, Williamson’s role with Empower AI allows him to interact daily with active-duty service members and continues to provide him with a sense of serving our country – even after retirement.
“I think that’s why you have a lot of veterans at Empower AI, because we’re looking for those unbending values and integrity at an organization,” he said.
For Williamson, Veterans Day is a great day to recognize where our country would be if it weren’t for the people who serve, and he wants more military veterans to have the chance to share their story within their community.
“If you want to start a conversation with any Marine, ask them, ‘Why did you join the Marines?’- and just listen,” Williamson explained. “Every veteran has a story. It might be 5 seconds. Or it might be 5 minutes. But they want to share.”
He added: “I would challenge anyone who’s not a veteran to give up 10 minutes of your life this month to find a veteran and talk. Don’t just give a passing ‘thanks for your service’. This goes a long way to bridging the gap that a lot of service members feel between themselves and the nation they serve.”