WealthManagement.com: At 51, you’re still an active member of the South Carolina Air National Guard. How long have you been a member of the armed forces?
Calvin Elam: I was on active duty for six years right out of high school in 1980. I went in as an enlisted rank, at the lowest rank, E1. I was enlisted for six years and I wanted to finish up a few college courses I had left, so I joined the National Guard for another six years. Later I applied and was fortunate to become a second lieutenant.
WM: Why did you join the military?
CE: I went into the military to get money for college. A friend and I were looking at the University of South Carolina, but my parents were divorced and didn’t have the money. So we thought we’d join the air force to get money. We figured we would be stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, which is close to the university, and could go to school at night.
WM: Have you ever had to leave your practice for a deployment?
CE: Yes, I started in 1992. I was deployed in 1998, when the war wasn’t going on. I was deployed overseas in Denmark for 30 days in support of enforcing a no-fly zone. The Air National Guard usually deploys for 30-120 days, not that long. We go, drop bombs and come home. We fight from the sky.
WM: As an active member of the South Carolina Air National Guard, are there still times when you have training exercises that take you away for shorter time periods?
CE: Yes, you’re always training for real world situations. Most of the time, it’s on a weekend. In a few weeks, I’ll go to my base and we’ll work for two whole days, from 7:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. If we have to go on a training mission overseas, it may be longer, but it depends on what mission you’re on. You go all over.
WM: How do you handle your clients and day-to-day business when you’re away?
CE: Fortunately, I don’t have to go away as much anymore; now I mostly go to Washington, D.C. But up until eight years ago, I had to travel. When I do have to go now, technology is so important. I take my laptop and my phone with me. On my laptop, I can interface with LPL’s operating system and I can respond via email to someone with a question. Technology has really made it easier to operate. What you miss sometimes is the face-to-face, but clients understand.