VCU’s Tom Briggs, who enlisted after his daughter was deployed to Iraq, commissioned as Navy officer

Tom Briggs.
Tom Briggs joined the military as his daughter was preparing for her second deployment to Iraq. “You can’t send your kid to war if you’re not willing to go yourself,” he said. (Courtesy photo)

U.S. Navy Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Briggs was commissioned on Saturday at the Virginia War Memorial. Briggs, who serves as assistant vice president for safety and risk management in the Virginia Commonwealth University Division of Administration, is a decorated service member having served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Briggs joined the military as his daughter was preparing for her second deployment to Iraq. His daughter had been a senior in high school on 9/11 and joined the U.S. Army upon graduation. Briggs was “proud and scared” as his daughter’s unit joined the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. In 2005, when she let him know that her unit was deploying to Iraq again, Briggs decided to enlist in the only service option open to him at the time, the Navy Reserve.

“You can’t send your kid to war if you’re not willing to go yourself,” he said.

As a commissioned officer, Briggs provides the Navy with vital leadership. Warrant officers can serve as division officers, department heads or officers-in-charge and are universally recognized for being highly skilled, proven professionals with expertise and authority to direct the most difficult and exacting technical operations in a given occupational area. Briggs was selected for this promotion by an active duty board due to his breadth of experience and technical expertise in his career field. 

“It’s an incredible honor to have been selected for this and I’m fully aware that I owe it to the people that have believed in me to live up to their good opinion,” Briggs said.  

Briggs’ Navy Reserve assignments include the Office of Naval Intelligence, SEAL Team 18, Special Operations Command Africa and the Defense Intelligence Agency. He deployed twice on active duty, with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 3 in Iraq and with SEAL Team 4 in Afghanistan. His decorations include the Army Commendation Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Combat Action Ribbon, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Fleet Marine Force Warfare Specialist, and Expeditionary Warfare Specialist. 

In addition to his work at VCU, his civilian career includes positions at the American Museum of Natural History, Madison Square Garden, The City University of New York, and the University of Central Florida. He is an avid sailor and holds merchant mariner’s credentials to operate vessels of less than 50 tons on inland waters and small passenger vessels on near coastal waters.

On Saturday, Briggs took the commissioning oath with his family as part of the ceremony and received his first salute from one of his sailors.

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