Ben Downing enlisted in the Army as a Multichannel Signal Systems Operator (Tactical). He was the honor graduate of his 6-month course at Fort Gordon, Georgia, and then deployed to South Korea for a year. He returned to Fort Gordon and completed the Tactical Satellite Operators Course, before being transferred to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center at Fort Huachuca, Arizona where he served three years with the 11th Signal Brigade. Due to his technical expertise and interest in emerging communications technology, Ben was chosen to be one of the first to work in a program now known as COTS or “Commercial Off The Shelf Technology.”
Following a six month deployment to South Korea with 1st Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery, Ben received orders to Turkey. For three years, Ben worked alongside NATO counterparts from a host of different nations in a wide range of assignments and learned to speak Turkish fluently.
In 1999 he was honorably discharged from active duty and, without a break in service, joined the New York National Guard. In 2008 he was deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion where he was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant. Ben was the most experienced communications non-commissioned officer in the unit, and was tasked to establish a communications base at a remote Forward Operating Base in Al Kut, in Southern Iraq. Ben was also put in charge of escorting and providing security for groups of Iraqi nationals as they traveled on and off of the Forward Operating Base. It was during this time that he injured his leg and back.
Upon his return to the United States, Ben was assigned to the Army’s Warrior Transition Unit at Fort Dix, New Jersey and Community Based Warrior Transition Unit in Concord, Massachusetts. It was there that he first heard about Wall Street Warfighters Foundation. Through this program, Ben hopes to gain a thorough understanding of the financial market, and the opportunity to combine that knowledge with his interpersonal skills to build relationships in the industry and excel in a challenging career in finance.