You wouldn’t think the unique experience of being an active-duty soldier in war zones across the world would carry over much to everyday life with its normal stresses of home and work.
But Quadel Director Jim Evans says his time in the military has impacted all his time since. For one, it still has an amazing ability to put problems in their place.
“Knowing you are not in a war zone,” he says. “It does help you form a broader perspective.”
A native of Baltimore, Jim joined the U.S. Army at age 18 knowing it would pave his way to college one day. He served almost seven years, from 1985 to 1992, and was deployed during operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
Jim was a communications specialist working with combat engineer battalions, field artillery units, air traffic control and more. The job took him to places like Georgia, New York and North Carolina closer to home and to Korea, Iraq and Saudi Arabia farther away.
“I saw things I probably never would have seen,” he says, and it expanded his youthful world view. Interestingly, it gave him a more nuanced understanding of poverty, seeing how it manifests in different places, something that later would feed his interest in affordable housing.
Jim got his promised college degree and, after the Army, he worked in communications technology and as a substitute teacher before landing by chance in Maryland county government in a department overseeing housing vouchers.
At first it was just a good full-time job with benefits—he was married with two young children to take care of—but it quickly became more.
“Who knew,” he says, “almost 30 years later, I’d be sitting here doing the same thing.”
Now an expert on the Housing Choice Voucher program among other things, Jim’s work in affordable housing has taken him from Maryland to Indiana to Texas and points in between. He has been with Quadel since 2004 and still criss-crosses the country assisting housing agencies, mostly recently in Virginia, Michigan and Oregon.
He’s supported in his extremely busy schedule by those military habits that are still ingrained, including getting up and doing the job no matter what.
“It helps you shoulder responsibility. You definitely learn leadership,” he says. And that discipline allows him to keep searching out new, innovative, more flexible ways to help people within a fixed system solve their housing problems.
“You get to see how your work impacts and helps people,” he says. “That’s the joy.”
Quadel thanks Jim Evans and the other veterans in our organization for their military service and the experiences they bring to make our work better. We hope you feel appreciated today and every day.