When Norman Green was growing up in in Columbia, South Carolina, military life was exposed to him at an early age.
He grew up in a military family. His grandfather, father, brother, aunts and uncles all served. Members from his family served in WW I and II, Korean War, Vietnam, Grenada, Gulf War, Afghanistan and Iraq. So when Green was preparing to graduate from South Carolina State University, and many of his classmates were trying to figure out what was next, his mind was already made up.
“It seemed like the wise thing to do once I completed college,” Green said. “I decided to be an officer because my brother refused to let me enlist in the military without becoming an officer. I looked at the opportunities and things I could achieve on active duty, but went with the option I felt could parlay on to other job opportunities.”
Green began his military career in December 1985 as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army. As he reflects on Veterans Day, he thinks of service to the nation and the opportunity to pay tribute to his fellow soldiers who served with him.
For 16 years, Green was active duty. He recently retired in July 2017, after 31 total years of service. As an airborne ranger, he learned quickly that it takes a team effort to accomplish any type of goal or mission for an organization to be successful.
U.S. Army officers are managers, entrusted with the safety of those under their command. The responsibility is beneficial when transitioning to the civilian work force. For Green, he always wanted to work in law enforcement. With the training he received as an airborne ranger and participating in different types of operations overseas, he thought that those skills could be used in law enforcement.
When an opportunity presented itself in 1997, Green decided it was time to switch over and pursue one of his true dreams which was to become a special agent. But Green continued his military career part time in the Army Reserve.
“I didn’t know which agency. The Department of Treasury seemed like the right thing to do at the time because they had all types of missions and you could jump on any team and do various types of assignments and that’s what I was I was looking for,” Green said. “I was looking for something that challenged me and Treasury provided that opportunity and that pathway.”
The leadership skills Green developed in the military helped him when he was in a supervisory role with the Treasury Department. It helped even more when he joined U.S. Customs, later to become U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as a special agent in 1997. Green has been a special agent with ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Houston office ever since.
“I learned intelligence and leadership skills in the military and how to handle different types of operations and criminal investigations,” Green said. “The same skills I learned there helped me here. It’s all to safeguard the American people.”
From time to time, Green, now a retired brigadier general, still has to fulfill duties as an officer, such as attending events and giving speeches. His life has changed tremendously because of the opportunities afforded by the military and HSI. He credits his brother for showing him what it meant to sacrifice dreams and goals to achieve something.
“I was given a lot of opportunities to get where I am today and I’m very hopeful of this country and the direction it’s going,” Green said. “The military is a great institution that will provide you with the basic necessities to survive not only in life, but also to be successful in life. The experience, education and training you get prepare for you anything.”