Veterans Day – Honor Them All Year Long
As we honor and pay deserved tribute to military veterans for their dedicated service and sacrifices, we have invited ASHI veterans to share their unique military experiences and transition to home inspection careers. Their stories offer all of us inspirational and informative perspectives and opportunities.
Meet ASHI veterans:
· Grant Blackwell, U.S. Army
· Bryan Freeman, Royal Canadian Air Force
· Bryan Fujimoto, U.S. Air Force
· Bradley Longosky, U.S. Coast Guard
· Charles Gifford, U.S. Marines
· Kimberly McGraw, U.S. Navy
· Robert Walstead, U.S. Army
Thank you and every veteran for your bravery, dedication and being there for us – reinforcing the freedom and spirit we cherish.
► Grant R. Blackwell: Veteran, U.S. Army; ASHI Member
“The effects of September 11, 2001 influenced my decision to pursue a military career in 2004. I was 22 years old, had a good job and was going to college when it happened, but I needed to support my country,” Grant Blackwell explains. Nine years later, in 2013, Grant retired from the Army – a “wounded warrior” with inspirational experiences, college degree, ride-alongs with an “awesome ASHI mentor” and a successful new business.
Grant owns Candid Home Inspections, Inman, SC, serving upstate South Carolina. He is a member of ASHI’s South Carolina Chapter and his goal is ASHI Certification.
U.S. Army and National Guard. Before combat duty, Grant’s basic training began in Fort Benning, GA. In 2006, two years after he enlisted, Grant was deployed to Iraq for combat duty. During that time, he and his team were struck by an Iraqi Integrated Air Defense group that penetrated his company’s vehicles, blowing half the vehicles up, leaving Grant and others with severe injuries.
At the end of this deployment, “I called my dad on Father’s Day, June 17, 2007, to let him know I was O.K.,” Grant gratefully explains. He was transferred from Iraq to Abbotsford, WI, to the Army National Guard.. In 2007, he married Melinda. Then he was deployed again to Baghdadto serve combat duty for 10 months, “leaving my pregnant wife behind.” Melinda’s doctor, knowing she was about to deliver their first child, arranged for him to be flown back for just enough time to witness his first child’s delivery. Then, back to Baghdad for nine months.
Home Inspection & the Military. After active duty, Grant completed his B.S. degree in Homeland Security (major in Emergency Management) at the University of Maryland. As he looked for jobs, he was disappointed in the opportunities. He also knew he wanted to own a business. “A friend, an ASHI member and awesome mentor, Brad Johnson, took me on ride-alongs for four months to see if I liked home inspection, which I did.” I took courses at the American Home Inspectors Training Institute, passed the South Carolina state licensing exam, learned more about home inspection, studied marketing, and in June 2013, I completed my first home inspection. I also joined ASHI and recently completed more than 400 inspections. Melinda and I now have three little girls.”
Grant notes that the “military trained me for attention to detail, and has given me a keen eye for anything out of the norm. I apply the military’s approach – mission first, done right the first time – to give clients peace of mind, not throw them unknowingly into a money pit.”
· Train second inspector to add to my staff
· Develop a franchise tailored to veterans
► Bryan Freeman: Veteran, Royal Canadian Air Force; ASHI Member, Canadian Certified Inspector
When he was 16 years old, he enlisted, with his parents’ consent, in the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving as a flight engineer for 15 years. After leaving the RCAF in 1974, he joined the Canadian Coast Guard Hovercraft Division and served as Chief Engineer until 1977.
Bryan transitioned into home inspection and is now the owner of CanInspect Inspection Service, Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia. He is a Canadian Certified Inspector and member of the NOVA ASHI Chapter.
Royal Canadian Air Force; Canadian Coast Guard. Bryan’s military career, which began in 1959 at RCAF’s Boot Camp in Saint-Jean, Quebec, led to several assignments:
· training and aircraft maintenance and repair at Camp Borden, Ontario
- RCAF Station Cold Lake, Alberta
· three years at 3 wing in Zweibrücken, Germany, “working on the CF 104 aircraft often referred to as ‘the widow maker’ “
- flight engineer, Buffalo Aircraft CFB St. Hubert, Quebec
· Chief Flight Engineer and Instructor, CFB Trenton, Ontario Flight School
Bryan left the RCAF in 1974 to join the Canadian Coast Guard, Hovercraft Division. After three years serving in the Coast Guard, he retired from his service career in 1977.
Home Inspection & the Military. Bryan Freeman owned several businesses, including CanInspect Home Inspection Service. When his wife, Margie, was required to relocate for her employer, they moved to Halifax. Bryan continued the independent CanInspect Inspection Service in Eastern Passage, across the harbor from Halifax.
Bryan joined ASHI after being impressed with the information that he was privy to as a member of “The Indigators” that Walter Jowers had formed. He appreciated the number of prominent ASHI members as well as other terrific home inspection professionals who also possessed a wealth of knowledge and experience that they were all willing to share.
“Military service, as other veterans know, teaches you the discipline and attention to detail to succeed in a home inspection career,” Bryan says. “Whether you inspect an aircraft, a hovercraft or a home, the process is much the same even though the components are different. The inspection process should consist of great field notes that follow a pre-set format, attention to detail, and a very sharp trained eye to help unlock the secrets that the house will tell you if you look and listen intently. A good Standards of Practice, such as ASHI’s, will set the minimum standard and provide a strong guide to the process. The knowledge comes through training, attending chapter meetings, conventions, tagging along with a seasoned home inspector, and inspecting a lot of your friends and relatives’ houses before you go out on your own.”
“You should look for another career if you think ‘home inspecting’ is easy, but if you decide that you want to proceed you will find it very rewarding and challenging. Every day is a new experience. The reward will be in educating your clients about the new house they plan to make into their new home.”
► Bryan A. Fujimoto: Veteran, U.S. Air Force; ASHI Certified Inspector
After graduating in 1987 from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs with a degree in Engineering, Bryan Fujimoto served in the Air Force for 24 years as an aviator until 2011. He immediately followed up his military career by attending The ASHI School and becoming Certified. Bryan explains that “attention to detail has always been emphasized in flying, evaluating and inspecting in the Air Force and that has helped prepare me to be a Home Inspector.”
Bryan is owner of Craftsman Home Transformations and Inspections, LLC, in Goldsboro, NC and is a member of the ASHI North Carolina Chapter.
U.S. Air Force. Bryan’s Air Force flight training began in Undergraduate Navigator Training. As an RF-4C Weapon System Officer (WSO) he flew and trained during assignments overseas. Bryan was then reassigned and deployed to Shaikh Isa Airbase, Bahrain in the Persian Gulf, flying combat sorties in Operation Desert Storm. Following the Gulf War, he transitioned to the F-15E Strike Eagle, which prepared him for Operation Southern Watch in Saudi Arabia, monitoring the Iraqis. His service also included flying in England, and training Saudi pilots and WSOs to fly the Strike Eagle.
He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2011 with almost 3,000 flight hours in fighter aircrafts. Bryan’s wife, Jennifer, still serves in the Air Force. Bryan comes from an Air Force family, “My dad was also in the Air Force, served in Viet Nam, retired as a Master Sergeant and settled in Hawaii where I was born.”
Home Inspection. Since launching Craftsman Home Transformations and Inspections, Bryan now averages one inspection a day or about 20 per month. He is an affiliate member of the National Association of Realtors and the Goldsboro-Wayne Multiple Listing Service. “As a home inspector in Goldsboro, my military connections have aided me in completing home inspections for the military community and my service experience has prepared me to be very thorough.” Since his wife is on active duty and typically very busy, Bryan is the on-site parent for their two sons, ages 5 and 6.
Frank and Arlene RE Bradley Longosky: In case you want to include this, the Coast Guard is the only military organization within the Department of Homeland Security.
► Bradley Longosky: Veteran, U.S. Coast Guard; ASHI Certified Inspector
As a post-graduation break to consider his future options, Bradley and his friends went fishing off the coast of the Outer Banks, NC. Unfortunately, a larger boat ran into them, disabling their vessel. They were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. As they talked with the “Coasties,” Bradley became very interested, enlisted, and served for four years from 1999 to 2003.
Today, Bradley is a Senior Home Inspector for ValueGuard Home Inspections in PA, working in Bucks, Montgomery and Delaware Counties, as well as the city of Philadelphia. He is also pursuing a college degree in Environmental Science from Temple University.
U.S. Coast Guard. Bradley’s Basic Training was in Camp May, NJ, and led to special training as a Machinery Technician in Yorktown, VA. He also spent time at Camp LeJeunetour in Barbers Point, Oahu, HI, maintaining Ground Support Equipment for air craft. Bradley left active duty in 2003, transferring to the reserves. “My Coast Guard experience was very rewarding, and I appreciated its goals and mission.”
Home Inspection & the Military . While in Hawaii, Bradley also worked on military housing, as an introduction to home inspection. “I engaged with military families in support roles as we helped them move from one station to another.” When he first returned home, his experience began with automotive inspections, then transitioned into home construction and remodeling, including framing, roofing, plumbing and electrical systems. In 2010, he joined ASHI and began working for ValueGuard in Pennsylvania.
“The military is about structure and effective communication, and this has helped me so much in home inspections.”
► Charles S. Gifford: Veteran, U.S. Marine Corps; ASHI Certified Inspector
Charles served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 12 ½ years, from 1980 to 1992. He began his military career while attending the University of Florida Naval ROTC Program.After leaving the military, he pursued a career in home inspection in 1992 and joining ASHI shortly thereafter.
Today, Charles is President of AmeriSpec of NE Florida in Jacksonville, FL. He has also served ASHI in several positions at the chapter and national levels.
U.S. Marine Corp. After graduation, Charles began his active duty military service at the Marine Corp Base Quantico, VA, where he attended the Marine Corp Basic School, immediately followed by the Field Artillery School at Ft. Sill OK., to learn his occupational specialty as a Field Artillery Officer. Following assignments included; Parris Island Recruit Training Center, a return trip to the Office Advanced Course, then to Marine Corp Base Camp LeJeune, serving as the Fire Support Liaison Officer, Operation Restore Democracy as the Assistant Operations Officer, Panama City, Panama, and Charlie Battery Commander which included a deployment to the western Pacific, and combat duty in Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War as the Fire Support Coordinator. He left the Marine Corp in 1992.
Home Inspection & the Military. His father had bought a house in Gainesville, FL, and shared those experiences with Charles and how valuable that service was to him as a property buyer. After researching home inspection, and having never been in business before, he and his wife, Juana, opened an AmeriSpec franchise. As building the business was a struggle, he took a full time job as a project manager for a local Jacksonville home builder, and Juana returned to the medical field. He grew the business and has since left the home building business behind. He’s one of four inspectors.. He and Juana have two sons: one is a police officer and the other manages logistics in Orlando, FL.Charles has been an ASHI member since 1992 and became Certified in 1996. His ASHI involvement includes the Council of Representatives, past chapter president as well as other leadership positions. “I learned much from my military experience; things like compassion, loyalty, dedication, discipline, and determination and learning how to follow as well as leading both small and large groups of Marines. All of those past experiences helped me in my inspection career, especially when things were tough.”
►Kimberly McGraw: Veteran, U.S. Navy; ASHI Staff Member
Kimberly is a unique individual. While in high school, she excelled at sports including basketball, softball, volleyball and track making her a hot prospect for many colleges and universities across the U.S. However, Kim decided to eschew college and instead chose to serve her country, enlisting with the U.S. Navy. Her naval career began in 2002 at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois where she attended “A” School to be a Quartermaster and obtained the rank of QM3.
U.S. Navy. Kimberly’s first duty station was in Sasebo, Japan aboard the USS Germantown. After approximately seven months at sea and a multitude of training, Kim and her fellow shipmates swapped crew, personnel and supplies with the same on another ship. Kim now found herself aboard the USS Harpers Ferry and more training for another seven months. Finally at port in Yokosuba, Japan, Kim pursued her Associates Degree and volunteered at Japanese orphanages off base.. While engaged in firefighter training she suffered a seizure and was soon discharged for medical reasons.
ASHI & Military Mission. Jack McGraw, National Director of The ASHI School, home inspector and Kim’s father, was a major influence on Kim’s post-Navy career track. While learning the skills of a home inspector from her father, Kim continued with her education in pursuit of a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education.
While completing her Master’s Degree in School and Licensed Professional Counseling, Kim met Dan Metcalf, a U.S. Marine, who helped her feed her hunger for volunteerism by getting her involved with The Mission Continues, a non-profit focusing on empowering veterans to serve their country in new ways. “Life is about doing something you love and making your mark on this world,” explains Kim. “And being a positive role model that can share great learning experiences with others is also rewarding.”
Kim is currently an Executive Assistant for ASHI. Falling back on her childhood and training from her father has helped Kim create a bridge between her experiences with the home inspection industry and her passion for volunteering – namely helping provide opportunities for veterans within this field.
Kimberly currently juggles her time with the tasks of her career at ASHI, being a Service Platoon Leader with The Mission Continues and caring for her two boys: age 10 and 6.
►Robert Walstead: Veteran, U.S. Army Reserve; ASHI Certified Inspector
While he was attending college at the University of Minnesota, Robert enlisted in his father’s Army Reserve Unit. He served for 24 years, commanding that and two other units, and retiring as a Major in 1991.
As the owner of Nationwide Property Services, a home inspection firm based in Colorado Springs; Bob Walstead has been a full-time inspector since 1984 and has done more than 12,000 home inspections and commercial building inspections. He is one of ASHI’s Southern Colorado Chapter founders, its first president, and has also served as the National Alternate Speaker of the Council of Representatives, Speaker of the Council, and is currently serving on the ASHI Board of Directors.
U.S. Army Reserve. Bob was sent to Korea and also to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indiana. Assignments included being an Army Reserve Mobilization Designee and serving as Assistant Installation Public Affairs Officer at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs. He also met his wife, SFC Debbie, while in the Reserve, and they have been married for 30 years.
Home inspection & the Military. Walstead believes that “Whether you are serving in the military or working with ASHI Members, you are spending time with some extraordinary people. Because you routinely meet people at ASHI events who do what you do, only do it much better, it is so inspiring, and your experiences offer insights and new approaches. While I was in the Reserves, I taught classes to other reservists. This later helped me when explaining things during home inspections or talking to other inspectors.”
Bob looks forward to ASHI chapter meetings, because it’s “similar to basic training in the military (without the pushups!).” He also appreciates InspectionWorld. “Broadening your horizons through networking with other home inspectors from all over is stimulating, reminding us that we can always be better.”