Close-up: Brandon Hutchins gives back to community through Virginia Beach Community Development Corp.

Brandon Hutchins wants to help others, including his fellow veterans.

“I know what it’s like,” he said.

The 38-year-old went straight from high school in Chesapeake to boot camp in Illinois. He served as a Navy medic from 1999-2010, including a nearly yearlong deployment to Iraq.

He was recently appointed to the Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation board of directors. The nonprofit organization was created in 1985 by the Virginia Beach City Council to enhance and expand the city’s affordable housing opportunities and neighborhood revitalization.

The organization owns and manages more than 450 affordable rental units in Virginia Beach that serve low-to-moderate income families, individuals, seniors, veterans, the homeless and people with disabilities.

“Affordable housing is extremely important,” Hutchins said.

After he left the Navy, it wasn’t easy trying to figure out how to make a living and provide for his family, he said. His first thoughts were, “What do I do now?” and “Where are the resources?”

There were some obstacles, including a car accident caused by a drunk driver that left him injured and with no vehicle. But he kept going and earned a Bachelor of Science in health care administration from ECPI University.

He has worked at Anthem for the past five years and plans to run for public office in the near future.

The father of four said he learned the importance of serving the community from his grandfather Lawrence Hutchins Sr., who died last year.

“He was special,” said Hutchins, who spent a lot of time with his grandfather. “He taught me life lessons and didn’t even know it.”

A Korean War veteran, Lawrence Hutchins began his career with the U.S. Postal Service in Richmond. He became vice president of the National Association of Letter Carriers and later served as vice president of the American Postal Workers Union in Washington, D.C.

Hutchins said his grandfather taught him that with a good education, “the opportunities will be endless.”

Full name: Brandon Christopher Hutchins

What neighborhood do you live in? Lynnhaven Woods

Hometown: I was born in Richmond and moved to Chesapeake at the age of 10. I graduated from Great Bridge High School in Chesapeake and moved to Virginia Beach in 2003 while stationed at Dam Neck. I consider Virginia Beach to be my hometown.

Age: 38

Nickname: Bee

Marital status: Married

Children: Four

Pets: My horse Romeo and my two little dogs, Cassie and Luna.

Occupation: Health care administrator employed by Anthem. I am currently the senior consultant on the Southside specializing in provider relations.

Education: B.S. in health care administration

Community service: Former little league coach, Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia, PiN Ministry and mentor.

Church affiliation: Grew up attending The Mount in Chesapeake.

Why did you agree to serve on the Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation Board of Directors? I have been in health care for over 20 years, and I have come to love helping those in need of a little assistance. I understand the importance of the need for safe housing and support. As a veteran, I am aware of some of the challenges that have to be overcome. The services that the VBCDC offers helps those in the community get on the right track without compromising their ability to live their best lives.

What is the greatest challenge you’ve ever faced? Deciding whether to stay in the military or not after 11 years of service was probably my biggest challenge. I was comfortable aside from deploying to Iraq, but I understood the importance of education, and with optempo (term for the intensity of certain military operations) that I had, obtaining an education was pretty much impossible. Getting out of the military was huge for multiple reasons. My pay was obviously cut significantly, health insurance for my family was gone, and to top it all off, I got hit by a drunk driver the following month and lost my car. Focusing on school was hard to do, but it got done!

Were there people or experiences in your life that made a huge impact on who you are today? My grandfather, Lawrence G. Hutchins Sr., made the biggest impact on who I am today. He passed away last year, but he didn’t leave me unprepared. He had been coaching me my entire life, even when I didn’t realize it. He stressed the importance of education, getting involved in the community and loving one another.

Favorite gadget: I’ve spent a lot of time outside and never really grew fond of gadgets, but if I have to pick something, I guess I’d say my phone.

Favorite movies: “Legends of the Fall,” “The Notebook,” “300,” “The Patriot”

Pet peeve: When dirty dishes are left in the sink.

Hobbies: I don’t have many hobbies these days, but I do enjoy riding my horse and fishing.

Best/worst job: Best: Taco Bell. I was 15 and it was my first job. I was appreciative. Worst: Skilled Nursing Facility, I felt like I was encouraging people to pick a good place to die.

First car: My mother’s old Mustang. It kept overheating so I only drove it for a few months.

Favorite Virginia Beach spot: The path on 89th Street leading to the beach and the beach itself.

First celebrity crush: Halle Berry and Maya Angelou

Comfort food: Bacon and scrambled eggs

A favorite TV show from the past: “Martin” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”

A recently read book you’d recommend: “I Still Do” by Gary McCollum

Of what achievements are you most proud? My children. I made it back from Iraq alive. My education.

Something you’ve done that others might not expect of you: I ride a horse. I get some different looks when I tell people that I have a horse and enjoy trail riding.

If you could invite three famous people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be? Sam Cooke, Mya Angelou and Thurgood Marshall

The song you’re most likely to be caught singing along to: “God is Love” by Common

What is your good luck charm? I don’t have one. My grandfather would wear an Italian horn pendant and I’d like to have one of those.

What is your personal motto? “There is no shortcut to success.”

The most memorable words of wisdom you received and from whom: “Son, an education can never be taken from you and there is no shortcut to success.” My grandfather, Lawrence G. Hutchins Sr.

The words of wisdom you’d share with someone interested in doing what you do: It’s not uncommon to hear me tell the youth that you have to work really hard for what you want. Nothing is given but everything is for the taking. Life is short, but the sooner you learn how to focus on the things that really matter, the better. Be better than me and make sure you share the knowledge.

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