Justin Brown

Justin Brown, pictured in front of flag's representing the U.S. military branches.
Photo by Grace Cockrell

Where better for a U.S. veteran to start a brand-new second career after retiring from the U.S. Marine Corps than one of the nation’s most military friendly universities?

Justin Brown is doing just this as a senior benefits specialist in Mississippi State’s Human Resources Management after serving as a Marine for 21 years. Brown initially planned a shorter military tenure, but the Marine Corps proved a good fit for the Collinsville native who values consistency, discipline and responsibility.

“I’m going to give 100% in everything I do, and I think the Marine Corps instilled that in me,” he said.

Before retiring in 2022 at the rank of first sergeant and quickly accepting his job at MSU, Brown laid the groundwork for his new civilian HR role with numerous supervisory, management and instructional duties. He guided and mentored more than 150 employees and approximately 4,500 enlisted Marines at both the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California, and at his more recent base that brought his family back to Mississippi, Naval Air Station Meridian.

He also served as a drill instructor in California and South Carolina, and he spent time based in Hawaii and California supervising weaponry operations and training. His service includes five deployments during which he traveled the world to both combative and peaceful locations, including Iraq, Japan, Australia, the Pacific Islands, China and South Korea for a variety of military and humanitarian missions.

“That was a huge part of my life from 18 to 39-years-old. That’s what I knew—dealing with and working with Marines. I’m glad it’s over, but I miss it a lot as well, because you’re not going to get that level of comradery and family in hardly any other work environment,” Brown explained.

He said beginning a new career at middle age, with the significant transition to civilian life, can be challenging, but it also is rewarding.

“My son was a senior graduating and going to college, and my daughter has got a few years left and then she’s off to college, so I wanted to spend as much time as I could with my family,” Brown said. “I didn’t have that time when they were growing up because of either deployments or off-site training, so this is a great opportunity for me to actually spend time with my family, and I’ve loved every second of it.”

Brown’s wife, Amber, previously worked at MSU-Meridian and is now an MSU Housing and Residence Life staff member at the Starkville campus.

“I’m grateful that MSU has provided a smooth transition into my next phase in life,” added Brown, who not only is working as a university employee but also is enrolled as an MSU graduate student in educational leadership.