(WTNH) — Kevin Brown is a father, grandfather, chairman of the Tribal Council of the Mohegan Tribe, and retired U.S. Army Colonel.
“When I graduated from high school right here in Montville, Conn. my father walked in one morning and dropped this big packet on the kitchen table and said ‘here kid, fill this out.’ And that was my retired sergeant first class dad saying i think you out to go to West Point,” said Brown.
Brown graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1987. He spent the bulk of his career climbing the ranks.
First he was in charge of 38 men in an infantry unit, then 140 as a company commander, and 700 as a battalion executive officer.
“Ultimately I retired as a Base Commander running an installation that took care of 20,000 soldiers and their family members. So, basically a small city of about 50,000 people,” said Brown.
In addition to triaing deployments in places like Thailand and Bosnia, Brown spent more than 48 months in Iraq during the global War on Terror, and another seven back in Operation Desert Shield-Desert Storm.
“I think the most important thing I learned as a young leader, and certainly as you progress, you have to be the one who is on the lookout for the individual inside a large bureaucratic organization,” he says.
It’s that mentality that is carrying over to his work at Mohegan Sun and with veteran organizations. Brown has been chair of the Tribal Council since 2013.
“I pretty much had made a commitment to myself in some way, shape or form I would forever remain involved in supporting the causes of our nation’s veterans,” Brown said.
Brown was introduced to Til Duty Is Done founder Justin Nash a few years ago. Together, they envisioned an event to honor and help veterans. That is how ‘Vets Rock’ was born.
“Frankly, our first year out of the gate last year we were not sure whether we were gonna succeed or not,” Brown recalled.
One look at last year’s Vets Rock, and the success is obvious. More than 1,500 vets attended and the concert. It was sold out.
The day included a career fair, suits for veterans, seminars and classes , all designed to bring people together and guide them towards a heathier future.
This year, Brown says they hope to almost double the attendance and have added veteran-run businesses to their line-up of vendors, showcasing success stories and providing hope for the future.
“When the concert was over last year I was walking along the concourse on my way out and I think I got stopped on several different occasions by three or four people and each and every one of them said to me ‘thank you’ and they didn’t say thank you because they got a job that day or a suit from the Suits for Troops or because they had a free concert ticket or any of that. Everyone of them said thank you for bringing us all together on this day and make people see us and recognize us,” said Brown.
Brown says Vets Rock is just the beginning for the tribe’s and the casino’s involvement in veteran’s causes and programs.