Veterans Day

Bruce Dempsey, a partner in our Austin office, reflects on his years of service and the experiences that led to his career at Myers and Stauffer.

Decades of Service

From January 1983 through November 2003, I was an enlisted member of the United States Air Force, stationed at McConnell Air Force Base (AFB) (Kansas), Bergstrom AFB (Texas), RAF Bentwaters (United Kingdom), Cannon AFB (New Mexico), and Beale AFB (California). During my Air Force career, I deployed overseas to Germany, Italy, Sicily, Honduras, and Panama.

In that time, I held a variety of jobs. I served 14 years as a medic assigned to flight medicine, five years as a special agent, and one year as a public health technician. I was inspired by my father, who served for 23 years in the Air Force. I thought it was a good life for us as a family, so I joined myself a few years after high school.

Unforgettable Experiences

As a medic, I worked in the flight surgeon’s office assisting the doctors with clinical treatments and emergency medical responses to inflight emergencies/accidents. I also deployed with an air transportable clinic as on-site medical support. During my first assignment, I was an aircrew medic assigned to a UH-1H helicopter unit responsible for air evacuations from remote missile silos in Kansas.

Midway through my career, I took a five-year, special-duty job as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, which is responsible for performing criminal investigations and counterintelligence. My first assignment was as an agent in England, where my role involved counterintelligence and liaison with the local police on criminal investigations. The first Gulf War occurred while I was stationed there, and I interacted with many of our British counterpart agencies to ensure our troops and assets were safe.

After that tour, I worked on assignment in New Mexico as a Special Agent, where most of the cases involved child abuse, sexual assaults, and narcotics. During my last year in the Air Force, I worked with the public health office assisting with the program management and preparation for the Joint Commission Accreditation inspections.

Some of my more memorable experiences include responding to aircraft mishaps, being the onsite medical component for the deactivation of a Titan II missile silo, operating field medical clinics in Honduras and Panama, and some of the criminal investigations I conducted.

The assignment I found most interesting was my last one as a medical component for the U2 program at Beale AFB (California). We worked closely with the life support group, who suited up the pilots for the high-altitude flights, and I deployed with the unit to Sicily for two 90-day rotations. Another interesting experience occurred while I was stationed at Cannon AFB (New Mexico) when I was selected as the outstanding non-commissioned officer of the quarter and granted an incentive ride in an F-111 Aardvark. This aircraft has a terrain-following radar system that allows the aircraft to fly low at a very high speed and was used extensively in the first Gulf War.

From Military to Myers and Stauffer

In thinking about the transition from military to civilian professional life, I feel fortunate that my first job was with the Texas State Auditor’s office. The state government job had some familiar aspects to my military work environment, which made the transition to civilian life easier. The most challenging transition was developing interpersonal communication skills – the military is a less collaborative environment and has a different leadership style. The state government job allowed me time to adapt to a more collaborative style before entering public accounting.      

In particular, the interviewing and documentation skills I developed as a Special Agent transferred directly to my current work as an auditor. Those experiences definitely ingrained a sense of skepticism related to documentation and people, which is helpful in assessing risk and audit evidence.

This brought me to Myers and Stauffer. During my tenure at the State Auditor’s Office, I crossed paths with Frank Vito and Ron Franke just before they started the practice here in Austin. My work at the State Auditor’s office included a variety of performance and GAGAS audits, but I settled into more financial attest-related audits of higher education, medical schools, and the Teacher’s Retirement System.

Once I transitioned into public accounting, I spent a few years performing disaster-recovery grant closeout and oil and gas royalty audits. Because of the variety of my experiences, I was able to translate the basic financial and performance audit skills and project management experience into the Managed Care engagements here at Myers and Stauffer.

Lessons and Reflections

Along the way, I learned a few important things that have and will continue to influence my life. The first of these is: Do not worry about what you do not have control over. Rather, embrace the challenges you face, because they will make you better.

Serving in the military provided me with structure and a sense that I can achieve whatever I put my mind to. It taught me there is always a positive approach to the challenges you face. Also, this is where I met my wife, Germaine, and where we raised our children through their formative years. The most important thing I learned: How important it is to have a supportive family and how good it felt to reunite with my family after extended periods away.

Honoring Veterans

Joining the military is a commitment to put service before yourself. Many of the service members voluntarily accept an enormous amount of responsibility and encounter extremely adverse environments at a very young age out of a sense to serve, to be part of something, and I think we should acknowledge that service.

I’m appreciative of the “thank you for your service,” gesture, and I am also humbled by it because it was a pleasure to serve, and I feel I got more out of the experience than what I gave.

Contact the Contributor:

Bruce Dempsey