Mark Volk grew up in Michigan City and attended Elston High School. After graduating from high school, Volk knew he wanted to serve his country, so he joined the Army Reserves and went to Purdue University Northwest to study electrical engineering and technology. Once he’d served in the Army Reserves for four years and earned his associate's degree, Volk decided it was time to join the Army full-time.
During his time in the Army, Volk mostly worked in supply chain and logistics.
“I was embedded in various Army units and I ran their logistics and made sure that high-dollar equipment for the government was accounted for. If you spend a million dollars on a Humvee vehicle, we need to make sure everything is accounted for and that we're not wasting taxpayer dollars,” said Volk.
Volk found the work so rewarding that he ended up staying in the Army for another 20 years. By the time Volk retired, he had achieved the rank of Chief Warrant Officer and had served everywhere from North Carolina to Germany.
“I realized that I was really good at my job. I enjoyed helping others and people needed me. The other people that I served with knew that they could count on me. My name became sort of synonymous with Army logistics. If anyone needed something I always completed the mission for them,” said Volk.
Volk is also a combat veteran--he served two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. Volk is very proud of his service and couldn’t be happier that he got the opportunity to serve alongside such amazing people for so many years.
“It meant everything for me to serve. It means everything to me that I could serve and get educated with the best,” said Volk.
After 24 years of total service, Volk’s now retired for six years. Just because he’s retired, though, doesn’t mean his service to our country has ended. He still finds all kinds of ways to teach people about military service and advocate for the community’s veterans.
When he got back home from the Army, Volk wanted to challenge himself so he headed off to DePaul University to earn his master’s degree in supply chain and logistics. Once he’d earned his degree he thought he would find some sort of supply chain position, but life had other plans.
“After finishing my degree I took a job with a nonprofit in education. I did that for a little while and I thought to myself, ‘You know what, I'm going to do this. I'm going to be a teacher for a couple of years.’ So, I tried it,” said Volk.
For two and half years Volk put on his military uniform again as an Army Junior ROTC teacher at Hammond High School and Hobart High School. It was a lot of hard work and a lot of hours, but Volk enjoyed being able to teach his students and fellow teachers more about the military and break some of the common stigmas people have about military service. He taught his students that serving your country can be one of the most rewarding things for your career.
“I think everybody should serve if they’re able to because it allows you to work with the best leaders in the United States of America and you can learn so much. I know some people think that only people who aren’t smart go into the military, but that's not true. They're the smartest people I've ever met in my entire life,” said Volk.
A common question Volk received while teaching was what a person should do if they’re considering joining the military. He always encouraged his students to go out and find a local veteran who has served and start a conversation.
“A military veteran can really point you in the right direction. Most of us are very straightforward. We're not going to sugarcoat anything for you. We're going to tell you things you might not want to hear. We're going to be honest with you so you can make the best choice,” said Volk.
Volk is now officially retired, deciding where he wants to take his life next. In the meantime, he has become passionate about raising awareness for veteran issues in the Valparaiso community and helping out his fellow veterans. He is a part of the Team Red, White, and Blue Northwest Indiana chapter and has even served as its captain. He is also a full member of the Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association.
“It means everything to me. Indiana will always be my home, so being able to give back and spread awareness and help veterans in the community is very special,” said Volk.
Volk is thankful to his family for always pushing and inspiring him. Volk’s grandfather was a purple heart veteran in World War II and was a big deciding factor in his choice to pursue a career in the military. His younger brother just retired from the military as well. Volk’s family means the world to him and he couldn’t imagine life without them.
“I just want to give thanks to my family and friends for all of their support. After retiring I could’ve gone anywhere in the world, but I wanted to be back here with the people I care about,” said Volk.