Student Veteran of the Month: Binh Ly
By David Kwon
Binh Ly dropped out of Moraine Valley Community College to enlist in the U.S. Army, an experience that helped shape his future college success at UIC.
“I joined the Army for the discipline, and now I will use it to better myself through school,” said Ly, a junior in engineering physics in the College of Engineering. “The Army has really shaped me as a person. I miss the camaraderie I developed with my fellow soldiers.”
He joined the Army as a tank mechanic in 2007, a job that consisted of maintenance and retrieval of M1 Abrams tanks, as well as maintaining tank battle system readiness and effectiveness. After graduating from basic training and tank mechanic school at Fort Knox, Kentucky, Ly joined the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado.
Ly completed two tours in Iraq on behalf of Operation Iraqi Freedom, his first deployment consisting of six months in 2008 and 2009 and his second lasting 11 months from 2010 to 2011.
During deployment, he conducted maintenance on and retrieval of high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles and mine resistant ambush protected vehicles. He also conducted mounted and dismounted patrols.
He served for four-and-a-half years before being honorably discharged. After his service, he re-enrolled in Moraine Valley for a year before transferring to UIC in spring 2013.
“I learned to be flexible in the Army,” Ly said. “Things can change on a dime, and being able to adapt will broaden your experiences and success.”
During his time in service, Ly reached the rank of E-4 Specialist and was awarded two Army Commendation Medals and three Army Achievement Medals. He was also given the Iraq Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Army Good Conduct Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Expert Marksmanship Badge and Army Service Ribbon.
Ly was born in Vietnam and lived there until he was 3 before his family moved to Los Angeles. They lived there for 10 years, then moved to Chicago.
“I chose UIC for its diversity and proximity to my hometown,” Ly said.
On campus he is a LEAD peer adviser, works with the Veterans Integration to Academic Leadership program and is a member of the Student Veterans Association. Ly also volunteers at the Anti-Cruelty Society.
After completing his bachelor’s at UIC, he hopes to attend UIC’s master’s program in energy engineering. After graduate school, Ly plans to conduct research in energy development.