HHC, 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain)
Name: CPT Loren Gosselin
Military Specialty: 12 A – Engineer Officer
Years of Service: 31
Unit: HHC 572nd Engineer Battalion, 86th IBCT (MTN)
Deployments: 2015-2016, Germany (Ukraine, Togo, Benin, Niger); US Army Corps of Engineers Europe District.
Previous Senegal Trips (Year, Mission): This is my first trip to Senegal.
Hometown: St. Albans, VT
Current Town: Jamesville (Syracuse), NY
High School/Graduation Year: BFA St. Albans, 1986
College/Graduation: University of Vermont, 1994
Q. Why did you join the Vermont National Guard?
A. I joined the Vermont National Guard to play in the band. I enlisted in April 1987, and played Tuba and French Horn. My HS band director was Verne Colburn, who was also the Bandmaster of the 40th Army Band. I was one of several of his students that he invited to join the 40th. For the young musicians out there; I simply participated in the public school music program, and enjoyed being part of the band, much like a team sport where everyone plays. When I first joined the 40th Army Band, it was stationed out of the Gosse Court Armory in Burlington’s North End, and then moved to its current location at Camp Johnson in 1990. It is a small unit with very high morale and its members have diverse backgrounds in the insurance, education, legal, engineering, healthcare, sales, small business, and other industries. A love of music and service is their common thread. A couple of interesting facts which stand as an example of the band’s cohesiveness and dedication; the Band is currently on its 4th Bandmaster since 1951 (67 years), and many of the members retire with over 30 years of service. They serve together for so long that they share many of life’s milestones, become more like family, and continue to stay in touch long after leaving service.
Q. What do you do in the Vermont National Guard?
A. I am an Engineer and currently serve as the company commander of HHC 572nd Engineer Battalion stationed in Rutland, VT. During my time in service, I learned more about what other parts of the military does, how its organized and how it functions. I am an engineer by trade and wanted to put that skill set to use in the military as well. In 2009, I changed jobs from a bandsman to an engineer and that has greatly broadened my military experience, and global perspective in general.
Q. What do you do for civilian work?
A. I am a Civil Engineer and work for the NY State Department of Transportation. I have been designing and building roads and bridges. During my 24 years with the NYSDOT, I have worked in the Poughkeepsie (Mid-Hudson valley), Watertown (North Country), and Syracuse (Central NY areas). The most significant projects I have led are the design of the new interstate spur I-781 (Fort Drum Connector) in Watertown which connects Fort Drum to I-81, and currently the construction of the I-690 Bridge Replacements at Beech Street and Teall Ave in downtown Syracuse.
Q. What do you think is the greatest benefit of being in the National Guard?
A. The people. People are the greatest asset in any organization. The opportunity to serve, learn, grow, and participate in mutually shared experiences, are for me far more significant and satisfying than anything else; and the people we serve with are the key ingredient.
Q. How has being a National Guard member benefited you in your local community and job?
A. In my civilian job, my peers notice a different work ethic or commitment, it is a value-added mindset. The military serves a purpose, which is greater than any of us. Through serving in the military at different levels, we learn how to work better as part of a team to accomplish a mission. Regardless of your position in an organization, everyone has a job to do to ensure overall success the team. Focusing on the doing your job to the best of your abilities with a laser-focus on accomplishing the mission; and placing the success of the team above any personal success or recognition are the most valuable lessons and contributions that anyone can make to their team or organization. Over the years it becomes habit and part of you, and is an example to others. I utilize and communicate many of these ideas and practices in my job every day to help build up my co-workers, which helps my employer accomplish their mission and be successful as well. For me, I enjoy being engaged in purposeful work, and making valuable contributions for the overall success of the team.
Q. What is your most memorable military moment?
A. I have a lot of memorable experiences over the years. Perhaps the most memorable was the deployment to Germany, where I was assigned to US Army Corps of Engineers as an engineer in support of contingency operations. Working on humanitarian aid projects in Togo and Benin was an eye-opener. Building schools to serve the people in those parts of the world changed how I view things, and gave me a different perspective in a positive way.
Q. How long have you lived in Vermont?
A. I lived in Vermont until age 26 and then moved to New York for work.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of living or working where you do?
A. I enjoy working on projects, it is my passion, and my job allows me to do just that. For now, Central NY is my home, it is a fairly affordable area and has good educational opportunities for my children.
Q. What has surprised you about the Vermont National Guard?
A. A couple of things; first, the lifelong friendships that are built with the people that we serve with. Secondly, although it is a small State; the Vermont National Guard remains very competitive with states that have much larger membership numbers. Vermont and the Vermont National Guard has received quite a bit of recognition for its accomplishments, specifically, for the Biathlon program, Marksmanship program, and more recently the F-35 program. All this is built on the dedication and effort of its members.
Q. How many push-ups did you get on your last physical fitness test?
Q. What made you volunteer for this Senegal Mission?
A. A variety of reasons; the mission is a construction project. Building is my passion and I am grateful to be part of the team for this mission, and can help make it a success. I also enjoy travelling, and have an keen interest in learning about other cultures first-hand to help develop a global perspective.
Q. Is this your first time here going to Senegal?
A. Yes. I am looking forward to interacting with and learning more about the Senegalese culture, environment, and their challenges, and looking for ways we may be able to help them.
Q. What is your mission in Senegal?
A. A construction project.
Q. Why do you think your mission in Senegal is important?
A. Our mission is important in the sense that is continues to actively build and reinforce the commitment to the partnership between Senegal and the US. It is an opportunity to work together, and to build those relationships which demonstrate commitment and support. Although this mission will build a project to fill a need, it is also much more than that.
Q. What do you want to take away from this trip?
A. A better perspective of the common cultures we share with the Senegalese, learn about their challenges and how we may be able to help in the future.
Q. How do you think this mission helps the Vermont National Guard?
A. It helps our Soldiers gain perspective about the world around them.
Q. How do you feel about being able to train with the Senegal Army?
A. I think it a great opportunity for individuals from both nations to partner and work together to learn, broaden and enrich cultural perspectives, find and share common ground, common experiences, and work towards common goals, built on a foundation of mutual respect.
Q. What are some differences between Senegal and Vermont?
A. Climate, language, culture, cost of living, etc.
Q. Anything you want to add?
A. I enjoy being part of the Vermont Army National Guard and for the opportunity to serve. When young Soldiers share some of their initial military experiences, they sometimes remark about how “I thought I’d never be able to do that.” What is interesting about this statement is about how surprised they are at going beyond their perceived limits. Pushing past physical, mental, and emotional limits, and expanding/overcoming them is one great lesson military service can teach us about ourselves. Always strive to better and do more.
Q. BONUS: Ask a question for the next soldier or airmen
A. What is your passion? Do what you enjoy doing and it won’t feel like work. What can you do to make a difference in the lives of others, to include family? Your actions and efforts may seem small, but it is a team effort, and collectively, that has a huge impact. Be passionate about your work; that passion or vision just might be the spark that energizes your team.