Gen. Dennis L. Via is the 18th commanding general of the Army Materiel Command, one of the largest commands in the military with a workforce of more than 60,000 personnel and operations impacting all 50 states and 145 countries around the world. Via is one of about a dozen active duty four-star generals and one of only eight African-American four-star generals in history.
Via joined the ROTC program while attending college at Virginia State University. Upon graduation, he was named a Distinguished Military Graduate and received his commission as a second lieutenant in the Signal Corps. He holds the distinction of being the only Signal Corps officer in U.S. Army history to achieve the rank of four-star general. Via attended Boston University, where he received a master's degree. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Via has held a variety of leadership assignments throughout his career, commanding at all levels of the Army. During his previous assignment as Army Materiel Command's Deputy Commanding General, Via led the Army Materiel Command Task Force in Kuwait, which was responsible for the retrograde of equipment at the conclusion of Operation New Dawn.
Q: Where were you born, and where did you grow up?
A: I was born and grew up in the small industrial town of Martinsville, Virginia. I lived there until I was 18 and left for college.
Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A: My father was a house painter, and I had a teacher who I admired who taught brick masonry; they both influenced my early aspirations. I wanted to own a construction company following graduation from high school and build residential homes.
Q: What inspired you to join the Army and pursue a career in the Army?
A: At the end of my sophomore year at Virginia State University, I joined the ROTC program. I was very impressed with the classes, and I enjoyed the training environment and the physical challenges. We also had great cadre and an extraordinary Professor of Military Science. ROTC taught me about leadership, discipline, and responsibility -- all important attributes for starting a career. Following my commissioning and my initial assignment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, I knew this was something that I wanted to pursue as a career.
Q: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement both personally and professionally?
A: Personally, my wife, Linda, and I celebrate 33 years of marriage this year, and we have raised two wonderful sons who are growing into successful, respectable young men. We committed early on to maintain balance between professional and family life, and I think that's our greatest achievement.
Professionally, the best part of my career has been the privilege to serve with such great men and women from across the country. During a career spanning over 36 years, I've had the privilege of commanding seven organizations and leading Soldiers from second lieutenant to general, and now Department of the Army Civilians, as well. Watching those under my command develop themselves personally and professionally and reach new heights in their career aspirations is the best accomplishment I could have.
Q: What is your favorite song or artist that if you were alone, you might get caught singing along?
A: I have many favorite artists and songs, but I truly enjoy jazz music. Linda and I even took a jazz cruise which was one of the most enjoyable experiences of our lives.
Q: What hobbies do you enjoy when you are not at work?
A: I enjoy fishing. Linda and I have also been known to find the dance floor on occasion.