U.S. Navy Lt. Brock Walaska and his wife Rae moved into town on Veterans Day. They moved from San Diego, Calif., but were both raised in Iowa. The two ventured to Hy-Vee for the Veterans Day breakfast.
“Everyone was very thankful for my service. It was just great to be a part of the community of vets in Newton,” Brock said. “I could tell the town has a real pride in their veterans. I wanted to be closer to family, and the quality of life in Iowa is superb.”
Brock, a supply officer and business manager, will be promoted to lieutenant commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve next month.
“It was a surprise to me because I wasn’t expecting the promotion for another six months,” Brock said.
Brock served 10 years of active duty service and joined the reserves in November. He had four deployments on a sub, a deployment to Iraq and a deployment to Japan and South Korea. Brock was a member of the USS Maine SSBN741 Gold Crew.
Brock was inspired to join the Navy during the turn of the economy after the tragedies of 9/11. Brock is a second-generation veteran, his grandfather having served during World War II.
“I was working on my masters’ at UNI when 9/11 happened,”Brock said. “Job opportunities in the field went away due to economy. It was difficult to find a job, and I felt the call to serve after 9/11.”
The opportunities for employment in his career field came after his active duty.
“I was offered a job while on active duty. The military experience made it easier to find a job due to the responsibilities as a naval officer,” Brock said.
In his 10 years of active duty, Brock has had many meaningful and rewarding experiences.
“During my tour to Iraq, I was a contracting officer. I wrote contracts to improve nearby communities in Iraq. Making repairs to sewer and sanitation systems,” Brock said. “I trained local Iraqi business owners on how to do business with the U.S. government and other business owners in the U.S. on meeting government standards — just how business is done. This gave them opportunities to work with the government or other contractors.”
Brock is employed by State Farm in the Agency Training Program and plans to open his own branch in Newton.
Staff writer Zach Johnson may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 425, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.