ENID, Okla. — Security National Bank’s relationship with Vance Air Force Base is personal to April Danahy, SNB’s senior vice president of corporate communications and human relations.
Her parents met in 1952 when her father was training as a non-commissioned officer at Vance and her mother, from Billings, was working in Enid.
Danahy was born at an Air Force base in Great Falls, Mont., and her family traveled the world until her father retired and eventually settled in Enid. She learned how to swim and bowl on base. All her friends were on base.
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“It helps me appreciate what they do and what their families are going through,’’ Danahy said. “When you have someone who is serving in the military, the whole family serves in the military. Being a child in a military family, I appreciate the number of times they move. You want to make sure when they land here in Enid it’s a good experience.’’
Making friends fast
SNB is one of the sponsors that support the designated classes of student pilots at Vance.
When talking with families about what they may need after arriving in Enid, Danahy knows something of what they are experiencing and can offer a personal touch.
“When you’re in the military, you learn to make friends fast,’’ she said. “We (SNB) have a number of people who have formed close relations with people who are in the classes, and we reach out as much as possible.’’
SNB employees who volunteer have done “all kinds of good things,’’ Danahy said, from pool parties to golf to trap shooting, “to help them acclimate and get to know their spouses … we want them to know they got our support.’’
She said SNB has 10 to 12 employees who participate when it sponsors a class.
“We’re all different,’’ she said. “We all have different ideas and things to do — it’s just like all the classes are made up of all different kinds of people. We take all of our ideas together to see what kind of experience is best for the class.’’
That could be a cookout or a dinner or just being understanding about the pressures they are under in their intense training.
“Sometimes we let them blow off some steam,’’ Danahy said. “Pilot training is hard. It is difficult on those who are going through it with their families. A lot of us came from military families. We know how important it is.’’
Giving them our story
The first goal is “providing for their needs,’’ Danahy said. “The most important part is they are taking the story of Enid, Oklahoma, around the world with them, and we want them to have the best story they can.’’
In addition to its sponsorship work, SNB sponsors a page about Vance AFB in E-Town Magazine, a bi-monthly publication. The base provides all the copy.
“It helps get messaging out what the base is doing that you might not see every day,’’ Danahy said. “We have been proud that we have been able to ... keep the messaging of Vance out in front of the people of Enid.’’
Danahy said she believes the information in the advertisements have been effective, whether it’s telling the story of pilots or aircraft mechanics or a K-9 unit.
“There’s a lot of pictures that people can see around town,’’ she said. “When we started (started the magazine sponsorship) ... this is one of the things we knew could help people know Vance better, and that’s what we did.’’
Security National Bank staff were involved with assisting the community throughout the Base Realignment and Closure hearings from 1988 to 2005 in successful efforts to prove why Vance Air Force Base is vital to the mission as bases were targeted for closure.
SNB staff worked closely with the Vance Development Authority to provide services throughout the process and remains on alert if case of any future BRAC developments.
“The bank makes sure that we’re on our toes, just like everyone else, providing the best opportunities we can for the base,’’ Danahy said. “It’s important that you learn a lot through BRAC because the base is important to us on many levels.’’
‘A great story to tell’
Danahy was selected as an honorary wing commander in 2014 under Col. Clark Quinn, the 71st FTW commander at the time. The two had several discussions how to keep Vance’s mission in front of the public, she said.
“They have contacted different businesses and different people from all over the community that are in the program,’’ Danahy said. “There have been a lot of people involved in the process, and you learn so much what the military is doing through that.’’
As an honorary commander, Danahy got to witness graduations, meet master sergeants, hear the stories of those serving.
“It’s a great honor to anybody who has been an honorary commander in any part of Vance’s wings. I got a great appreciation for the amount of work that they do and the challenges that come with it.’’
She said it gave her a greater appreciation of what her father went through and allowed her “to see how the whole base works together and how important it is for the community to be involved.”
“Anyone who has been a part of the program has come back with great stories and has formed good relationships,’’ Danahy said.
She added that she has learned more about the different missions and, in turn, has spread the word of it.
“It’s a great story to tell,’’ she said. “Vance Air Force base has been a part of the community for so long … their mission is great. They turn out the best pilots in the world. It’s an easy story to tell.”
Culture of the bank
Security National Bank has a representative on the Vance Developmental Authority which has spearheaded drives for military funding such as the new control tower.
“It takes a long time to get a military project through,’’ Danahy said. “With the support of the community, you have a smoother time getting it through. If there is another BRAC, the VDA will step in and be the group that helps put together the messaging for the community.’’
Anyone at the bank is welcomed to volunteer for the Vance project, Danahy said.
“The culture of the bank is to support the community, and that includes Vance Air Force Base,’’ Danahy said. “We have employees on boards across the community. Whatever speaks to their hearts, that’s where we want our employees to be. If you been in the military, you understand the importance of it.”