Missions accomplished-Bethlehem Township resident returns to his roots
When Kevin Habick, 29, traveled to West Point for a football game with his family in ninth grade, he fell in love with the school.
“I loved the atmosphere and traditions,” this 2005 Freedom HS graduate says. “The school’s motto was something different than I’d known.”
The decision to choose a college was easy. One of Habick’s grandfathers had fought in World War II, the other in Korea.
“I wanted to hold myself to a higher standard,” Habick says. “I knew that I’d have to sacrifice parties and other ‘traditions,’ but it was a real privilege going to that institution.”
Graduating with a BS in economics, Habick knew that at some point, he wanted to explore the business world. He wasn’t sure whether he’d go career Army but he recognized that his service would expose him to a wide variety of opportunities, and West Point provided a great starting point.
One of his favorite experiences included a trip to Peru where he and other West Point students volunteered in the women’s section of a local prison.
“About 99 percent of the inmates were there for drug trafficking,” he says. “And kids are allowed to stay with their mothers until age 5. There was an open courtyard there and we’d play with the kids and do different things.
“Soccer’s a big deal in Peru, and everyone played every day – including us – but we were always demolished. There was even a prison Olympics.”
While Habick has seen two deployments – one to Iraq in 2011 and another to Afghanistan in 2013 – his most challenging experience came not at West Point or in a foreign country but Ranger School.
“I was recycled three times,” he says, “and the humility factor [of having to start training three times] was high.
“I thought I wasn’t good enough, and I really saw it as a defining point of my Army experience.”
After nine months of infantry training followed by more than double the usual 61-day Ranger program, which included 19.6 hours of daily training, Habick says, “graduating from Ranger school was a big deal and a real confidence booster.”
He doesn’t talk about his worst experiences, except in generalities, but says, “What I do remember most is that [tough times] break people down and make them raw. But you become family, and those are the times I reflect on and miss, because you form strong bonds with others through hardship.”
Habick’s first tour to Iraq involved assisting with the troop breakdown as the United States prepared to decrease the size of its in-country forces.
“I was excited to go because it’s something I trained for,” he says. “We were providing humanitarian aid and engaging with the local leaders.”
A few years later, in 2013, Habick deployed to Afghanistan as an aide or attaché for a full bird commander. This was a more upbeat assignment where, Habick says, he accompanied the commander to different locations within the country, meeting with executives, special ops, the state department, and many local leaders.
“Our mission was to empower the local military and police to assume more of the responsibility for fighting the Taliban and other terror organizations,” he says. “It’s not a cut and dry situation there, because there’s a lot of conflicting ideologies, desires and motives among so many different groups.”
While in Afghanistan, the relationship he had with his girlfriend – now his wife – Amy grew more serious.
“We’d gone to sixth grade together but didn’t date until after college,” he says. “She was this beautiful young woman, a prom queen, and I was her ‘love ya like a brother’ friend. We had a great friendship which provided the foundation for our marriage. We just have a lot of fun together.”
Nearing the end of his six years of military service, Habick and Amy discussed their options.
“We’re blessed that all of our family is local to Bethlehem,” he says. “So while I had this wonderful Army family, the home family won out.”
In the spring of 2015, Habick completed his Army service and moved back to the Lehigh Valley.
“My dad’s a State Farm agent,” Habick says, “and it’s something that I said, when I was in high school, that I’d never do. But I saw [his success] and everything he’s achieved, and State Farm is an industry leader.”
The veteran decided to join the company, leveraging his degree and other experience helping soldiers plan and manage their finances, to complete a one-year internship before opening his own branch in Doylestown.
Habick reminisces about sharing his knowledge with his fellow soldiers.
“When I was platoon leader, we all really bonded. And I taught classes on stocks and bonds – I was motivated [to help them].
“I was teaching these 30-year-olds how to manage their money, and they were so appreciative, learning ways to be better soldiers, spouses and providers.”
It’s a natural progression that Habick has chosen a career that permits him to teach and mentor others.
“Working with State Farm is the best of both worlds. I work for the company, but I have my own business, and I’m a leader to the staff that I’ve hired and trained. It really is the best of both worlds,” he says.
Habick credits his experiences at West Point and in the military for his success.
“I’ve learned so much, but especially discipline and how important it is to work for a goal, saving money to open a business, building a plan and sticking to it,” he says.
“Change isn’t always easy, but I’ve learned how to work through obstacles and reach goals,” he says. “I really believe that good things happen to those who work for it.”
And he’s continuing to pay it forward.
State Farm offers grants to many schools, and Habick embraces the company’s active community involvement.
“The company and I are reaching out to younger people about the importance of cultivating financial health.
“I’m also reaching out within my local market [in Doylestown] to soldiers so I can help them plan financially. There’s a direct correlation to what a State Farm agent can provide – that education piece that helps people. I’m there to assist in good and bad times, and it’s very similar to what I enjoyed most about the military – educating soldiers.”
Habick opened his business Oct. 1 and after about 45 days in, he says, “it’s going well. I have two team members, which is a blessing – one’s from the Lehigh Valley, and the other is an Air Force veteran. We’ve had the ribbon cutting ceremony, and I’m reaching out to partner with local schools, veteran’s groups, and other organizations within the community. I really want to grow my outreach.”