Veteran’s Perspective: Family Values

By Giselle Maria Valdez
Public Finance Investment Banking,
Wells Fargo
U.S. Marine Corps Corporal, 2004-2008

I was born in a snowstorm in New York City’s Upper West Side to parents who had immigrated to the United States from sunny Dominican Republic just a year earlier. They were in their early twenties and came to the U.S. to get married, start a family, and pursue the “American Dream.” They did not speak English, but dreamed of giving their children opportunities they never had. Family was the lifeline in what still often feels like a foreign country to them nearly 40 years later. As the eldest of three daughters, I became a significant part of that lifeline at a young age. I translated letters, made phone calls, and ran errands well before I was a teenager. The responsibility to help my parents and lead my sisters by example was one I sometimes felt was unfair for a child, but also one that instilled discipline, a strong desire to do the right thing, and a deep love and appreciation for family and community. It molded my core values and eventually led to my enlistment in the U.S. Marine Corps after 9/11 disrupted my freshman year of college.

Recruit Giselle Maria Valdez, Parris Island, SC
October 2004.

In the Marine Corps, I found many parallels to my childhood. My new family was made up of Marines who were eager to take action, make personal sacrifices for our community, and take on significant responsibilities at a young age. These Marines became more than just colleagues; they became friends, teachers, and mentors. The Marine Corps reinforced my family values and ignited my desire for meaningful work and service.

Unfortunately, the transition to the civilian world is an individual one. It is unlike the experience of an immigrant family finding footing in a foreign country or a military unit tackling a challenging mission. It can feel daunting to embark on the transition alone, but the military has honed your ability to adapt quickly and the strength to overcome challenges. My transition was rattled with uncertainty at first and going back to school helped me recalibrate. Through an internship I discovered public finance and started my career in investment banking. Public finance is the intersection of the capital markets with the public sector and I get to work on financial transactions that have tangible social aspects that often benefit people like me. Seeking a community in public finance led to my involvement in various organizations and I eventually found a mentor (and veteran spouse) who spurred my move to Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo’s veteran community is strong and offers me a sense of belonging that I value tremendously. ­­

Corporal Valdez receiving a coin from the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sergeant Major Estrada. MCAS Beaufort, September 2006.

The veteran community is a new family you can leverage to guide you every step of your transition and beyond. It has been nearly 15 years since I transitioned and I can proudly say that many of the most impactful colleagues, mentors, and sponsors in my civilian career are fellow veterans. I recommend you reach out to veterans that can give you the insights you need—you will be pleasantly surprised.

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