Fifteen years of James Holthaus’ life was spent serving our country in the military. His service spreads across three branches including the Air Force, Navy and Army, and two deployments in Iraqi and Kuwait for Operation Freedom. Today, the CSU alumnus has settled into civilian life but continues to serve and protect others in different ways.
“I first joined the service back in 1987 in the Air Force,” he said. “My dad was an officer, so I wanted to try out the Air Force and I did my tour. When I got out, that’s when I did a lot of the retail management and risk management. I spent many years in that career field. When 2003 came, I noticed everything happening in the Middle East and I wanted to get back in and, at that point, I was offered a position in the Navy. There, I went over to Kuwait and after that deployment working with the Army there, I wanted to switch to the Army.”
Having spent the majority of his military service with the Army, James worked with the military police in the anti-terrorism and physical security areas which started to pique his interest as a potential career on the other side of military life.
“I have a background, not only on the military side, but also the civilian side in physical security and risk management,” he said. “I have the experience, but to academically have something that shows I’ve done more steps to be able to work in certain areas is important as well.”
After hearing about Columbia Southern University, James started taking classes and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2019 with Magna Cum Laude honors.
“My bachelor’s degree in business administration was able to get me a good paying job in federal government,” he said. “Now, I am at the halfway mark of completing my master’s degree in emergency services management at CSU. I think having a master’s degree is going to be a big help on my resume, and I also think adding the two weeks of training I had in Israel is going to be a huge impact as well.”
In November of 2022, James spent two weeks in Israel on a special homeland security training conference that allows government agencies, military, private sector and students the ability to learn firsthand how Israel conducts daily homeland security and emergency management operations.
“While I was in the military I heard about Security Solutions International,” he said. “It’s a unique program because in Israel we got to go to many areas that are generally off limits to civilians and see firsthand their operations. I think it’s an excellent opportunity to see how things works over there for their homeland security and emergency management operations.”
James says one of the biggest takeaways from his trip was seeing how prepared this country was when emergency strikes.
“We went and visited a hospital and saw how, if they are under attack, they are able to go from normal operations to going underground and learn how they do that quickly and effectively,” he said. “We also saw how their intake management worked when first responders would bring in victims and how they determined their next steps based on the injury. It was very interesting seeing this and going underground to view their command centers. I couldn’t believe the technology that they have there.”
Looking back, James says one way he views his career differently after the trip was how they people there were all willing to play their part in volunteering.
“They are well aware and know everyone has to rely on each other,” he said. “There was a huge volunteer commitment by the population. The training is top quality for people who just want to volunteer.”
With the end of his master’s degree in sight, and the knowledge he has after earning his Security Solutions International certification, James is looking forward to putting his education to good use to help better our country.
“Anytime you see how operations are done in another country, or even in another state, it may not be able to be done exactly the same way, but you can incorporate things that might benefit you,” he said. “There are some people that don’t see a degree as important or significant, but it’s not money wasted. It’s something that you are going to be able to achieve things with. During the rest of my 10 or 15 years working in federal government, that master’s degree is only going to help me more.”
James also serves as a committee member for three U.S. State Department OSAC Committees including the Europe Regional Committee, Cybersecurity Committee and Africa Regional Committee.
May is Military Appreciation Month, a special month that CSU is proud to celebrate. For those like James Holthaus who have served and are currently serving, we thank you for your commitment and sacrifice for our country.