Veteran Calls Wichita Home
Written by Anna Laurin
Questions answered by Darryl Kelly
Why Wichita? Darryl Kelly would say why not Wichita? The Virginia native and his family, a wife and three children, moved to the Air Capital in 2009 after getting stationed at McConnell Air Force Base. After completing his military service in 2015, Kelly and his family chose to make Wichita their home.
You traveled the world with the military, so what made your family choose Wichita?
Wichita feels like my hometown! The people are amazing and the quality of life is great! The size of Wichita allows me to be involved in the community and be part of the continued growth and progress to elevate systems in place affecting the well-being and standard of living for fellow Wichitans.
Plus, there is no traffic!
What advice would you give to those who are in the military preparing to transition to civilian life?
First, I would say value all the aspects of your current service time. Next, don't be afraid. You are more than trained and qualified for life in the civilian world.
To transition out of the service is a significant life change for a service member and their family. The planning process should start approximately 18 months before the transition. How did that look for you specifically?
This is a pivotal milestone. With many important items to consider — where to live, employment opportunities, medical benefits, etc. — you want to ensure that you have done as much preparation as you can before crossing over.
With knowing the next chapter in your life is coming, what did you look for when it comes to job opportunities? Did you use local resources to find job opportunities?
Building into your last 18 months a period to discover what civilian jobs are out there and matches your needs and skillset, is crucial. Another important resource that I believe is significantly undervalued is understanding that you must take the time to build local networks. Put yourself out there and connect letting the community know your skills and talents will be on the market soon.
What local factors did you compare and consider when it comes to raising a family in the Midwest?
When comparing cities Wichita has lots to offer, specifically checking some of the top items off our list: affordability, quality of life, access to amenities, job market and the ease to maneuver around town.
As a veteran, how did you create connections within the Wichita community?
I dove in headfirst and started getting involved. I attended civic engagement trainings, volunteered, got on boards and committees.
Wichita wants to be known nationwide as a community that welcomes vets. How do you think we can best drive toward such a distinction?
The Wichita community can be more proactive in fostering and developing the relationship with McConnell and the VA hospital. Vets and active-duty personnel should feel welcome and loved in this community and that creates an excitement for them to live, work, and play here.
A program like Homebase Wichita is a great asset to help make the transition easier, connecting the military community with careers and opportunities in the Greater Wichita area.
Kelly is an active community member with a passion for Wichita and its success. The Assistant Vice President, Information Systems Project Manager at Equity Bank is involved in various professional organizations and advisory boards. He is known for getting young people involved in conversations that determine Wichita’s future. Kelly is a remarkable example of putting passion to work in a city he now calls home.
You can learn more or connect with Darryl at Choose Wichita Insider here.