Navy veteran finds second career after MC
July 1, 2014
Story by Betsy Pickle
Steve Hady has been linked to the ocean for most of his life, but he had to get landlocked in Tennessee to find his second career.
The son of a U.S. Navy chief hospital corpsman, Hady enlisted in the Navy himself shortly before he turned 20 and served for “30 years and two weeks.” His career took him through a variety of positions and gave him several skill sets, but after he retired and was looking for a full-time civilian job, he realized he needed more.
“With my life experience, getting close to and being at retirement from the military, the doors that were open to me from individuals who were willing to help me didn’t get me past the HR process,” says Hady, 52. He needed a bachelor’s degree to bookend the associate’s degree in supervisory leadership he earned from Hawaii Pacific University while in the Navy.
His wife’s sister and brother-in-law lived in Alcoa, and Hady was familiar with Maryville College through visiting them. He knew he didn’t want to go to a large state school like the University of Tennessee – “that’s just way too many people for me” – but he decided Maryville College would be “a good fit.”
There were challenges, of course.
“After spending all this time in the military, going to a liberal arts college was going to force me to expand my horizons a little bit,” he says. “But also … my peer group, in terms of students, I was going to be old enough to be their parents or older. That, and my professors were my age. But it was going to be that way wherever I went.”
Hady viewed going back to school as his job. He completed 55 credit hours in 13 months.
“It wasn’t that I was in a hurry, but I wanted to get the most bang for my buck, which meant being in college the shortest amount of time to meet the academic requirements that I needed to meet.
“But I have to say that I was very pleased with the professors that I had. I was very pleased with the students and the work groups that I was in.”
In some ways, Hady was like any new college student trying to fit in, with the extra hurdle of beginning in the middle of the school year.
“When you come in at the start of the year, everybody’s new, and everybody’s meeting everybody. But by the middle of the school year, you know people. I found that the fall semester was radically different than the spring semester I had, and I think that was mostly due to the fact that I had met enough students that they knew who I was, so when it came time to being in working groups … instead of being the guy nobody knew, who was old enough to be everybody’s parent, they saw what I was capable of and invited me to their working groups and study groups.”
Hady has had a lifetime’s worth of getting used to new experiences. His mother flew back from Egypt to give birth to him at Bethesda Naval Hospital (now known as Walter Reed National Military Medical Center), then took him to Egypt as soon as he could travel. He also lived for a time in Ethiopia, but when his father was serving in Vietnam, the family settled in Southern California.
Before joining the Navy, he lived briefly with relatives in New Mexico. (His brother, an East Tennessee State University graduate, spent 21 years as an electronics technician in the Navy and now lives near Johnson City.)
Hady started in the Navy’s medical program as a general duty corpsman and served for eight years before becoming an independent duty corpsman, riding submarines.
“I was the only medically trained person responsible for the health and welfare of a crew of 150 sailors, and I would go out to sea on a submarine and do what we do,” he says. “As I gained more rank, to the point where I was a senior chief, I found that I really loved the business of being on submarines. I became what’s called a chief of the boat, otherwise known as the COB.”
He managed the day-to-day operations for the entire submarine, including all enlisted personnel, maintenance, supplies and logistics.
“As chief of the boat, you work directly for the commanding officer ensuring that things get done.”
After completing that tour, he stepped up to a more far-reaching role on shore and became the force manning officer, serving on the staff of Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. He was responsible for all the enlisted manpower for all the submarines in San Diego, Calif.; Bangor, Wash.; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Guam; and Japan.
After two years, he became a military equal opportunity advisor – a broader role than in the civilian world that includes “the organizational climate and organizational effectiveness” – working for the Navy diversity director based in Washington, D.C. For the last five years of his military career, he worked on diversity policies and issues, not just for the Navy but also on a federal advisory commission that provided a report directly to the president and Congress on diversity in all of the branches of the military.
“It’s become a passion of mine because it’s about taking care of people and doing the right things and not giving people a handout but giving them a hand up,” he says.
Shortly before he finished his management degree at Maryville College, he lined up a job with Oceaneering Advanced Technologies, a division of Oceaneering International Inc., in Hanover, Md. He completed his coursework on Jan. 24 and started at Oceaneering on Feb. 3 as a health safety environment advisor.
He is grateful for his time at Maryville College, where his courses culminated with Dr. John Gallagher’s strategic management class, which provided a “practical application of everything we learned in the business track.”
He also enjoyed getting to know fellow students, many of whom – both civilians and military veterans – came to think of him as a mentor.
“Taking care of people is just a part of my nature,” he says.
While he’s been taking care of people, and business, Elaine, his wife of 26 years, has taken care of things on the home front. They met soon after he joined the Navy and was stationed in Charleston, near her hometown of Moncks Corner, S.C.
“I had gone out country dancing when I met her,” he recalls. “We danced that first night, and we’ve been dancing ever since. She has always been my life partner, and I would not have had a successful career in the Navy or at MC without her. She is truly my other half.”
Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2015 semester was 1,213.