A legacy soldier expanded his family’s longstanding history of military service by climbing to the top of his MOS.
Sgt. 1st Class LeVar “Big Sarge” Curry, of the South Carolina Army National Guard, was an easy prospect for his recruiter in 1995. Growing up in a military family, he knew from an early age that he would follow in their footsteps.
“My grandfather served in the Korean War, my father served in Vietnam, and then myself currently, so I grew up knowing I wanted to be a GI Joe,” he said.
His career has spanned 24 years across several states, including Texas, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and now South Carolina. He initially enlisted into the Army Reserve, but he found his calling as a recruiter for the active duty Army in 2003. Three years later he seized an opportunity to transfer to the New Jersey Army National Guard as a recruiter.
In the same way he knew military service was undoubtedly the right fit for him, he passionately works to teach youth how service to country can improve their lives.
“My first step when I got down here was getting myself known out in the community and now that I’m here, thinking who can I help. Not a worry about filling a mission or looking at people as numbers to go get, but it’s more of looking for folks I can help,” he said.
And, he’s good at his job. Curry was presented with The Directors 54 Award earlier this year by former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, adjutant general for South Carolina. He also received the same award in 2013 when he was with the New Jersey National Guard. Though recruiting is filled with long hours and a demanding schedule, he has mastered the art of succeeding at family, fitness and community building.
Curry started dancing as a child, played sports in high school and later discovered Zumba – an activity that compliments himself and his wife, but one he also decided to become an instructor in in 2012. Through his classes, he has been able to host an annual class in honor of his mother, Fredericka, who he lost to cancer.
“I am a brother of Phi Sigma Fraternity Inc and so the biggest pillars we have is service and the outreach to young men and women – teaching them to be role models in the community. We do an annual turkey drives for 100 too 200 families … we do a big toy drive providing to hundreds of families,” he said.
In addition to his career accomplishments and civic work, Curry is a father of four who values supporting his wife, Kelly, in her own aspirations. In fact, he pursued an interstate transfer from New Jersey to South Carolina to open up greater opportunities for her field. He says it’s important for soldiers to give equal attention to a spouse’s calling as they do for their own.
Kelly Curry has been an educator for the last 13 years, of which seven have included being a National Guard spouse. She says her challenges look a bit different because of the nature of her husband’s job.
“We are able to have a permanent residence and in some ways, choose where we live. For this, I am grateful. This has allowed for me to establish my own career,” she said. “Our challenges come from the demands and inconsistencies of recruiting life, but I feel the benefits by far out way the challenges.”
The couple makes it a priority to engage as a family in local events that ultimately help Curry build relationships.
“As a teacher, it was important to me to support LeVar in seeing the great value in his job. He is not just a recruiter. He is someone who provides a college education to many that would not be able to obtain it without the assistance of the National Guard. Being a recruiter strengthens the military yes, but it also provides opportunities for people to change their lives,” she said.
Kelly Curry greatly appreciates the opportunities afforded to her from the National Guard, but openly shares there are unique hardships impacting recruiting families.
“There are many times when family events are interrupted by phone calls about recruits. There are many times when we cannot plan weekend events because of recruiting events. There are many times when plans have to be changed last minute because recruits or their families need support from LeVar,” she shared. “I feel fortunate that my husband is home, but inconsistencies in schedule can be taxing on the family and the spouse.”
But she admits they have found a system that works and it centers on communication. They sit down weekly to fill out a calendar to avoid surprises that can detract from family obligations.
“Sometimes, the schedule will change at the last minute. LeVar has grown greatly in communicating these changes with me that might impact our family and/or children that day. Every healthy relationship needs communication, but I think the recruiting family needs even more to be happy and healthy,” Kelly Curry explained.
They thrive on structure, with Sgt. 1st Class Curry committing to set responsibilities in the household, like picking up the kids from school and doing bath time. A few times a week he returns to the office to wrap up any lingering work.
“It’s all about balance. Our balance is, she’s the love of my life,” he added.
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