Meet Your Army: Soldier-turned-civilian returns to 597th Transportation Brigade

By Mr. Zack Shelby (597th Transportation Brigade)January 30, 2017

Meet Your Army: Soldier-turned-civilian returns to 597th Transportation Brigade
Armando Kuppinger Velasquez is once again a member of the 597th Transportation Brigade -- taking a position as a member of the Joint Task Force-Port Opening team in December. Velasquez was the first commander of the 690th Rapid Port Opening Element w... (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Armando Kuppinger Velasquez is once again a member of the 597th Transportation Brigade -- taking a position as a member of the Joint Task Force-Port Opening team in December.

Velasquez was the first commander of the 690th Rapid Port Opening Element when the unit activated during his first stint with the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC)/597th from November 2009 to January 2012.

He didn't have much time to get comfortable back then, having just gotten married to fellow former Army officer Isaura Ramirez. Before even receiving all their household goods, Velasquez was part of a joint assessment team sent to Haiti in January 2010 as a result of an earthquake.

"My first experience with the 597th was pretty adventurous," Velasquez said. "I found myself within hours of the earthquake down in Haiti doing airport assessment at the Port-au-Prince Airport. That was my first experience with the 597th and I fell in love after that."

Velasquez referred to the 597th as, "The best organization I've ever served in in the Army."

"I had a blast being the commander of the 690th for two years," he added. "It was the best job I ever had in the Army and I was excited to be able to come back here as a civilian."

While serving in the Army, Velasquez also held numerous other assignments in and out of the continental United States (CONUS and OCONUS) and deployed numerous times, including to Haiti, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Morocco.

After serving about 16 years in the Army, Velasquez worked as a senior logistics analyst at the Logistics Management Institute (LMI), a not-for-profit government consulting company supporting the Army's Global Combat Support System (GCSS) Army Project from 2015-2016 before taking his current position with the 597th.

Velasquez also has other civilian experience, including owning a small business -- a frozen yogurt store with his wife in Suffolk, Virginia, for two years. For the past two years, he has adjunct taught political science at Strayer University.

He also volunteers with multiple organizations, including the Armed Services Arts Partnership.

"My wife is also involved in that organization and that's how she became a stand-up comedian," Velasquez said. "She works with other veterans in comedy and actually performed at The White House in October."

When not at work, whether volunteering or otherwise, one could expect to see Velasquez with his family.

"You'll always see my daughter with me or all three of us together," he said. "We just try to do things together."

Learn a little more about Velasquez below.

Q: Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

A: I was born in Portland, Oregon. I was a military brat so I lived all over. I've lived the most in Virginia, second most is Germany. Now we reside in Williamsburg.

Q: When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: I always knew I wanted to join the Army in some capacity. I thought I wanted to be a lawyer. Then I realized I wanted to complete school fast and the Army was offering a great career.

Q: When did you join the Army? What was your job?

A: I joined the Army in 1999. I was commissioned from Missouri State University. I was a transportation officer and then became a logistics officer. I started my Army career here at Fort Eustis with the 7th Transportation Group. I was a plans officer on the 24th Transportation Battalion staff.

Q: What inspired you to join the Army?

A: When I was given a presentation on the Transportation Corps as a cadet, they showed me pictures of operations on the beach and I said that's what I want to do. My first assignment was here at 7th (Transportation Group) and we went to the field on a beach so they lived up to their promise.

Q: How would you describe yourself professionally?

A: I'm a listener. I'm always trying to identify core problems in order to provide a sensible solution.

Q: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement professionally/personally?

A: Professionally, I'm really proud of the work we did at 690th. We deployed on real-world missions. We sent three Soldiers to the Department of the Army (DA) Soldier of the Year competition. We won supply excellence awards. We did a lot of great stuff in the community.

Personally, my daughter -- watching her grow up and being supportive of my wife and her endeavors whether in business or comedy.

Q: Education?

A: I have a Master's Degree from the University of Oklahoma in international relations. I'm a demonstrated master logistician. I'm working toward my project management certification. I try to keep going to school of some sort.

Q: What hobbies do you enjoy when you are not at work?

A: I like to read. I like to write. I'm working on two books. One of the books' themes is pop culture and its strategic use for defense -- how it gives us an advantage in the world. The other book is a military-style manual on military transition to entrepreneurship.

Occasionally, I like to play music -- the guitar or DJ.

Q: Family?

A: I married another Army officer. Her name is Isaura Ramirez. She retired a few years ago and is now a professional stand-up comedian and stay-at-home mom for our four year-old daughter. Her name is Alana.

Q: What's something people might not know about you?

A: My name was changed as a child from Velasquez to Kuppinger. I grew up with my step-dad (Kuppinger), but I knew my biological dad (Velasquez) and we became closer after high school. I talked about combining my name to honor my family name. He passed away in 2003. As I got ready to have my own child, it was important for me to pass the "Velasquez" name on. I also wanted to honor my step-dad who had a big part in raising me. He passed away in July. Before my daughter was born in 2012, I combined my names and legally changed them to "Kuppinger Velasquez." I think a lot of people think I took my wife's last name. This was the story behind it.