Brent Krohn possesses a unique ability. Talking with him will leave you with a particular sense of comfort and hope, thanks in part to his warm personality and conversational ease. Despite his talents and impressive resume, Brent credits most of his accomplishments to others including peers, mentors, supportive family, and most importantly to his Lord. His sense of calm is driven by his faith, and his confidence in one recurring theme is what makes his hope contagious: God is in control.
Brent served in the U.S. Army and Army National Guard from 2011-2020, completing three deployments to Afghanistan and serving at various posts across the U.S. After attending Martin Luther College for his first year, Krohn made the transition to Concordia University, Mequon to study Criminal Justice and became part of the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program through Marquette. After graduation, Brent was commissioned as an infantry officer.
Krohn would be stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, but had time in between graduation and the start of the next stage of training. He became a dishwasher at Birdie’s Café in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a coffee shop run by Sarah Metzger, the sister of a good friend. Brent laughs and jokes, “She couldn’t resist me,” in reference to his now wife. Krohn worked at the coffee shop for a month before reporting to Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, for 16 weeks of intense training. Krohn went from there to Ranger school, which he finished in 2012, before officially moving to Fort Bliss, TX. Brent flew back to Wisconsin to marry Sarah that Memorial Day before returning to Fort Bliss, a time in his life that Brent sums up as “a flurry of a year.”
Brent and Sarah enjoyed Fort Bliss. Brent fondly remembers Fort Bliss as the place where he met one of his dearest friends, Ric. While Brent served as a platoon leader, Ric was his platoon sergeant and taught Brent what it means to be a good leader. Krohn soon deployed to Afghanistan with that platoon and remembers the difficulty of leaving his family for so long. “Sarah packed everything up and ran the coffee shop while I was gone,” packing and moving to a new house in Brent’s absence.
Brent looks back on his first deployment as a positive experience and says that the Lord helped to shield him with good people. Krohn emphasizes the importance of remaining humble as a leader and knowing when to ask for help. Much of his success was in the relationships he built, as he asked for advice from those above him and opinions from those below him to find compromises and solutions to problems. Overall, his deployment experience was positive in terms of relationships.
A drawback to his time deployed was increased stress on his faith life. Brent states he often had more time to think, pray, and read his Bible and finished the whole book over the course of his deployments, but he was also surrounded by more temptation and peers who often didn’t share his faith or values. Krohn took this as an opportunity for ministry whenever peers would ask him about where he went to church. Immediate effects were not always seen, and Krohn states that the “fruits were far down the road,” including a friend who five years later stated he was going to church for the first time since his childhood.
Communication with home served as an additional obstacle during deployment, and Brent remembers how difficult it was to stay in contact with his wife. While Afghan phones were sometimes available, service was spotty, and soldiers had to be cautious about what they said over the phone. Most of his communication occurred through letters.
After returning from deployment, Brent tried out and was selected for the Army Rangers, an elite infantry unit. He went back to Texas, packed up, and moved to Savannah, Georgia. He also found out that Sarah was pregnant with their first son, Gabriel. After six short months, Brent deployed again to a similar area as a Captain. Krohn states again that the Lord was in control when he was granted permission to return home for the birth of his son.
Krohn deployed a third time ten months later, serving for a four-month period. After returning home, he became the executive officer of that company, second to his commander. Brent reflects, “It always felt like wherever I went, I had good mentorship and good people who cared about soldiers. I just lived my faith and remember being asked about it by many of them. God was in control of everything. I was always blessed by where I was and what time I was there.”
Brent decided to remain in the military, and began the career course at Fort Benning, where he completed “more graduate studies and less crawling through the mud.” The Krohns had a second son by then and moved to Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, where Brent served on the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, light with no vehicles.
After his third son was born, and a good friend transitioned out of the military, Brent decided to transition to the National Guard. The Krohns moved back to Virginia, where Brent taught at a small, Christian school and took command of his company for the Virginia Army National Guard. Sarah began homeschooling their children. Brent gained a great respect for National Guard soldiers and is still impressed by their ability to balance family, a civilian job, and military commitments. After family health concerns arose, the Krohns decided to move home to Wisconsin. At this point Brent had three sons with hopes for a fourth child, and he wanted to be closer to them. He made the difficult decision to separate from the military, ending his service in 2020.
Although the transition from National Guard to civilian life was more gradual than coming straight out of active duty, Brent states that the transition has been very difficult for him. “I’ve personally, deeply struggled with the transition. I’ve gone through counseling and still do. Being Christian gives a different facet, because you’re finding mission and purpose in that, but it’s still hard to turn that ignition off.”
Brent states that church has kept him busy since he started to volunteer. He is a member at Shepherd of the Hills in West Bend, WI, where he has worked in conjunction with pastors there to rejuvenate their small group Bible studies, as well as singing for their services. Brent and his pastor also run a monthly men’s Bible study at a local coffee shop. St. Marcus Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI, has also been blessed by Brent’s efforts, where he often serves as a worship leader, singing and playing guitar for their contemporary service. He does this while also working at Froedtert Hospital as a supply chain analyst, as well as helping Sarah to raise their five children.
Brent appreciates his time spent in military service and is proud of several moments, both in his personal and military life. Krohn enjoyed serving as a counselor, friend, disciplinarian, and guide to his soldiers overseas, as well as talking with soldiers about their faith and his. Brent can still picture the moments spent praying together with those soldiers. Having kids was always a point of pride for Brent as well, in addition to having a wife who was so loving and supportive, “an absolute rock.” Overall, Krohn says that being in the military was an honor. “It allowed me to gain a deep appreciation for our country, our God, and the people that are willing to do it.”
Written by Natalie Lendt, 2023