United States Navy Veteran Kevin Dorsey

DorseyRetirementMontage_HutchMilitary Branch: United States Navy

Units Served: USS Clifton Sprague FFG-16, 4th Tank Battalion, Helicopter Rescue Squadron 16, USS Orion AS-18, 4th FSSG, Recruit Training Command Great Lakes Illinois

Role in the Unit: Search and Rescue Team leader and instructor, Land Survival Instructor, Command Master Chief Recruit Training Command

Years of Military Service: 28

Highest Military Ranking: Command Master Chief

Honors Received: Global War on Terrorism, Combat Action, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Kuwait Liberation, Naval Commendation

Overseas Service: Somalia, Persian Gulf, Italy, Germany, South Korea

What motivated you to join the military? Escape from poverty, educational opportunities, different exposure from inner-city Chicago.

What is an achievement that you are most proud of in your military service? After decades of retirement, I still receive requests to speak during military retirements and promotion ceremonies. Those requests provide me with a sense of pride and hope that my service left a legacy that would inspire other military men and women. 

Which medals and/or citations are you most honored to have received, and why? My Military Service Medals. Although it’s a medal that’s provided to every military service individual, to me, it signifies the commitment of those that raised their hand and took the oath to serve. All of the individual medals and achievements are what we accomplished under the oath of service.

How did you stay connected to home and to loved ones while deployed? Letters, phone calls and occasional visits.

Who is someone you looked up to or someone who meant a lot to you while serving in the military? I had the privilege to escort Retired Master Chief Carl Brashear during his visit to Naval Station Great Lakes. Master Chief Brashear was the first Black Master Diver and first amputee diver in the U.S. Navy.

How did/does your military experience impact your life today? My military experience provides me with the strength and conviction that I can accomplish anything.

What was it like on your last day of service? My retirement ceremony was full of military honors, guest speakers, letters of appreciation from the President of the United States, and then United States Senator, Barack Obama. However, to look at my two children and to know I would never spend time away from them again, provided me a sense of pride in my service and joy for our future.

After returning to civilian life, how were you initially received by veterans/family/community? A positively, welcoming reception.

Following your service, did you pursue secondary education or enter the workforce? The military provided several opportunities for higher education even while serving either aboard ship, deployed overseas or during shore-based commands. I was fortunate to obtain both my undergraduate and Master’s Degree while actively serving. After retirement, utilizing the Illinois veteran’s scholarship grant, I obtained a second masters, MBA and am currently a doctoral candidate utilizing veteran’s benefits. I’ve been fortunate to maintain great civilian employment, currently serving as the Executive Director at the University of Illinois Health System. 

Did you, and how do you, stay in touch with people you served with? Social media has been an excellent development for connection with service members. Together We Served is a wonderful community website to connect military veterans. I also remain active with Chief’s associations on Great Lakes Naval Base.

What would you like people to know about your military experience? My military experience was more than something I simply did – it became and remains a pivotal part of who I am.

What questions do you wish people would ask you? I never thought about wishing for questions, however, I’m proud to entertain them.