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Who is Mr. Chanda Choun

(pronounced CHAHN-duh CHOON)

Hello. I live in the historic, diverse Buckingham neighborhood of Arlington County, Virginia near the Ballston Metro Station and work as a senior business manager and engineering leader for a cybersecurity software company headquartered in Dallas, Texas. I am also a part-time Army Reserve soldier occasionally on duty with the United States Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Maryland. My community involvement includes being Vice President of the Buckingham Community Civic Association, Delegate to the Arlington County Civic Federation, Lifetime Member of the John Lyon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3150, Parishioner of St. George’s Episcopal Church of Arlington, and previous Executive Board Member of the Arlington Young Democrats.

But my story begins with being born in a refugee camp on the Cambodia-Thailand border in Southeast Asia and coming to America before the age of 2. My family were survivors of the Cambodian Civil War and Cambodian Genocide in which millions died – a ‘sideshow’ to the Vietnam War. After a decade in the camp, we were chosen to resettle in the State of Connecticut in the United States. My parents arrived with three kids, no money, and no education, but they worked whatever job, whatever wages, whatever hours to provide a basic, peaceful life for their children.

Growing up poor and different in a small New England town was challenging, but finding ways to immediately add value to the community was my singular drive. Singing in school plays, playing on the football team, serving as an acolyte at my church (equivalent of an altar boy), getting elected student class president, and having my name etched in a soon-to-be built war monument on the North Haven Town Green is the legacy I leave behind my hometown.

Enlisting in the US Army at age 17 was the next step in giving back to America; the ultimate sacrifice if needed. Getting sent to military bootcamp after high school graduation and successive missions pushed me to South Carolina, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Europe, and the Middle East. The skills and experience I gained in the military allowed me to transition into the private sector, where I have now worked in technical and management positions from North Carolina to Indiana to Washington DC.

After multiple attempts at relocating to Northern Virginia since 2012, I finally received the job offer I was waiting for to move to Arlington County in 2015 and work at the US Department of State’s Office of Cybersecurity in the bustling urban Rosslyn neighborhood. In 2016, a tech company recruited me to be their senior business manager and engineering leader for the National Capital Region. I occasionally travel for work, but majority of time work from my home office in Arlington.

Photo Credit: Terry Belt

Friends and Neighbors, I know that I wasn’t born here in Arlington. I know I haven’t lived here all my life. But I didn’t get to choose where I was born. I didn’t get to choose where the refugee resettlement agency placed my family. I didn’t get to choose where the Army sent me. But I can choose where I am now. And I choose Arlington. Arlington is the love of my life. And I’m making up for lost time. I will get married in Arlington. My children will run through the parks of Arlington. I will die in Arlington and be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

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CHANDA CHOUN CURRENTLY SERVES PART-TIME IN THE UNITED STATES ARMY RESERVE. USE OF HIS MILITARY RANK, TITLES, OR PHOTOGRAPHS IN UNIFORM DO NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT BY THE ARMY OR THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE.

© CHANGE WITH CHOUN

PAID FOR BY CHANDA CHOUN FOR ARLINGTON