For most people, balancing a demanding civilian career and serving in the military reserve would be a daunting task. But for Brian Danzinger, it’s a calling. Danzinger has used his skills from both his civilian position at Associated Bank and his military reservist role to achieve national recognition and make a lasting impact on his country.
Danzinger, a disaster recovery specialist in corporate risk management, is an active reservist for the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). Danzinger has been a contingency planner and incident response officer for nearly 15 years of his USCG service, which includes managing the initial stages of an emergency response as well as proactively identifying potential risks (both natural and manmade) to a region or key infrastructure. His team has been involved in numerous large-scale incidents and planned events such as Deepwater Horizon, the Federal Covid-19 Response, and both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Part of Danzinger’s role involves the assessment of the response, careful documentation of the strategies and tactics employed, and determining any lessons learned or areas of improvement for future responses.
In early 2022, Danzinger was hand selected to create a formal incident response report related to the capsizing of the Golden Ray, a foreign flag cargo ship that capsized in Georgia in 2019, carrying over 4,000 new vehicles and 300,000 gallons of fuel. Danzinger was chosen based on his previous After-Action Reports, scholarly writings and background as a certified pandemic/epidemiology specialist.
Danzinger had to travel to USCG locations more frequently than unusual during this assignment. He spent over 900 hours conducting research and gathering evidence, examining nearly 12,000 response documents and incident artifacts. The report Danzinger generated was not only designed to help provide an extensive overview of the events as they occurred, but also function as a tool for future responses and investigations.
The Golden Ray report is the first National Response Team (NRT) incident report that detailed the complexities of pandemic planning and response during the removal of the Golden Ray. It is considered a national exemplar for maritime response and will be used during any other salvage/removals done by the USCG. The document is already being used to shape national response policy and incident management strategies. Additionally, Danzinger was asked to present the report at the NRT conference in February and serve on a panel to discuss large scale response strategies.
Danzinger credits his ability to balance the demands of his civilian job and his military work to the support he receives from both the USCG and Associated Bank. During his work on the Golden Ray report, Associated allowed him the time and flexibility to work on the complex project. The Coast Guard was equally as flexible, allowing Danzinger to coordinate some disaster recovery exercises and other activities for Associated while on active assignment.
Danzinger says his skills gained in the military have helped him with his work at Associated Bank since both roles focus on contingency planning and incident management. “I have been very fortunate to build skills that benefit both the USCG and Associated Bank,” he said. “Much of the training I have received from the Coast Guard involving cybersecurity, accounting for personnel, pandemic response and continuity of operations in the event of a disaster are all applicable skillsets that help with my role here at Associated. My USCG team was one of the first called up to help develop the national pandemic response plan during the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was very helpful in shaping some of the first pandemic strategies and procedures for Associated."
What inspires Danzinger to continue juggling both roles? The chance to serve his country in a meaningful way and make a real difference in the world. Danzinger shares that being involved with some of the large-scale incidents in the USCG has been a positive experience as it not only provided him excellent training and on-the-job experience, but it also gave him some valuable perspective.
“We have been able to help some communities during those most devastating moments by giving them elements of hope, comfort and stability in a time of chaos,” said Danzinger.