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Living our values and honoring those who defend our freedom

November 10, 2016
John Hairston
John Hairston

Each November our nation honors the men and women who selflessly answered the call to defend our freedoms. This Veterans Day we celebrate with gratitude and pride all heroes, and are especially thankful to those who call the Hancock and Whitney Bank family their own. The strong and steadfast values that define and enhance the armed services mirror the century-old core values that guide us daily — Honor and Integrity, Strength and Stability, Commitment to Service, Teamwork, and Personal Responsibility.

Five associates from various departments and locations throughout the Hancock and Whitney Bank five-state service area share their thoughts on service, freedom, democracy, and how the values they learned during their time in the armed forces helped them prepare for life beyond the military.

Alisa Abney

Gulfport, MS
Branch of service: Air Force
Years in the armed forces: Four years

While I did not think initially that I would join the military, I attribute my decision to my sister. She served in the Air Force and really enjoyed her time. With her guidance, I was convinced that joining was the right choice, not just for finishing college but for the opportunities the military could provide in terms of travel and experiences to drive my future career.

I believe most people don’t take the freedoms the military protects for granted. I find that often when others find out about my service, they are very thankful for that. There is a true sense of pride in having served. For my family, that sense of pride is extended in that my sister and I both served as well as three of my brothers-in-law. I find that so many people are grateful for the service of veterans and display that gratitude by exercising the freedoms of democracy through the right to vote and the right to live freely.

Wesley Benham

Bradenton, FL
Branch of service: Army
Years in the armed forces: Three years

Freedom and democracy come with effort. The Founding Fathers said ‘We’ve gained freedom. It’s ours, if we can keep it.’ To help keep our freedom, the Army ingrains LDRSHIP—loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage—during basic training then truly implements it daily in work. It’s really the same values Hancock and Whitney Bank displays in the business world.

I think a lot of people go into the armed services knowing that it’s good work that must be done. Some go in fully focused on wanting to actively defend our country in battle and many others go in with the posture of simply wanting to do good. For me it was a good start for my career and a great foundation to build upon, knowing it was important for me to do my part to keep our nation safe and strong.

Charmon Bynum

Charmon Bynum - Air National GuardNew Orleans, LA
Branch of service: Air National Guard
Years in the armed forces: Seven years

As Veterans Day approaches, I always get teary-eyed thinking about the sacrifices those families make for our freedom. Even though I’m no longer active, I am thankful for the freedom the military provides- the ability to sleep soundly at night and wake up knowing I am protected at all costs. We set security alarms on or homes and cars for peace of mind, and that’s essentially what the military does for our country. They are our safety alarm, protecting us from many dangers at home and abroad so we can enjoy our daily lives.

I am thankful for my time in the military. It provided an opportunity to ensure I received a strong education and instilled a solid set of values that I’ve kept with me for many years, values like honesty and commitment that are the same values I see day in and day out at Hancock and Whitney Bank. Like the military, what you do always affects others, so upholding these values guarantees success with your unit, your team, and your department.

Ralph Hastings

Bryan, TX
Branch of service: United States Marine Corps
Years in the armed forces: Two years

The things that I learned in the military, the values, honor and everything you’re taught, have stayed with me for nearly 40 years. Although my career was cut short due to an accident, it was certainly a highlight of my life—something I was proud of and enjoyed immensely. My time in the service strengthened my feelings on the concepts of democracy and freedom, and I believe firmly that the military is the foundation for providing all Americans freedom. Having had the opportunity to serve and recognizing what those before us have done and sacrificed, certainly means a lot to me.

Jack Pryer

Montgomery, AL
Branch of service: Air Force
Years in the armed forces: 22 years

Being in the service makes you appreciate American freedoms much more. Sometimes people don’t realize exactly how much our military and their civilian families sacrifice for our freedoms. Plus, having spent time abroad in places like Iran, Egypt, Korea, Japan, Germany, Guam, and Australia, it is evident that people in other countries do not have the same freedoms and privileges that we enjoy here in America. I feel blessed that during my 22 year career, I met some wonderful people, traveled the world, and did my part to continue the legacy of preserving the freedoms that we do have. My experiences helped me appreciate America as a whole and made the commitment and sacrifices easier.

Integrity and doing the right thing was the biggest thing the military taught me. That’s something that I strive to maintain in my post-military career, that I pass down to my children and share with my family.

We salute the veteran and active-duty patriots in our financial services family, not just on Veterans Day, but all year long. This Veterans Day, please take the time to recognize the debt we owe our veterans by honoring their service, remembering the sacrifices made by them and their families, and saying thank you for ensuring we live in the land of the free.


Hancock and Whitney Bank is committed to helping those who serve by hiring and advancing in employment protected veterans and continually supporting our country's service members. Hancock and Whitney Bank invites associates and applicants for employment to self-identify as protected veterans. Associates featured in this article completed the self-identification process and expressed interest in participating in this blog.