Summit Pointe is proud to be home to several businesses owned and operated by military veterans or military spouses. This month, as we celebrate Veterans Day, meet a few of the men and women behind these establishments:
Aaron and Christine Holley, the couple behind Wasserhund Brewing Company, have been together since they were juniors at Kellam High School in Virginia Beach.
“She’s an Army brat and I was a Navy brat,” Aaron Holley said. “Then I joined the Navy and she followed me.”
Holley got a Navy ROTC scholarship and took that to Virginia Tech, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering and a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry.
After graduation, he worked for Naval Reactors, or the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, in Washington, D.C., which oversees the design and construction of naval reactors. He reached the rank of full lieutenant by the time his five years of service ended.
An avid home brewer, Holley would go to craft breweries, sample their wares and think, “I make beer better than this and they’re making money off of it.” He also remembered how he used to joke with college buddies that he could use his chemical engineering background to open a brewery.
So he decided to do it, writing a 20-page business plan to persuade his wife. They opened their first location in Virginia Beach in 2015, adding a second spot in Summit Pointe in 2021.
Having fallen in love with German beer culture after attending the world-famous Oktoberfest in Munich, the couple wanted a German name for their brewery. They chose “Wasserhund” — or “water hound” — in tribute to their two dogs, who love to jump in the water to swim and play.
Krystal Henry’s husband, Elliott, is on active duty with the Coast Guard.
He joined as a reservist in 2007 and since then has served five active-duty tours. “He selected the Coast Guard because he has always had a passion for law enforcement and wants to further serve our country,” said Krystal Henry, owner of The Key Salon Studios.
She noted that her husband has been surrounded by law enforcement since an early age, with numerous members of his family also serving. He also serves his community as a police officer for the Chesapeake Police Department.
Gray Livingston discovered his passion for great coffee during his more than 20 years of service in the Air Force. He now owns Pale Horse Coffee — roasteries and shops with the motto “country first, coffee second.”
Livingston enlisted right out of high school, originally signing up to serve four years and to get out of his hometown near Flint, Michigan.
He first worked as an electronic technician on intercontinental ballistic missile systems. After completing his bachelor’s degree, Livingston was commissioned at his 10-year point and served the rest of his career as a communications officer.
Amanda Bonano became a military wife in 2002.
“I would say I married my husband, but I married the military,” said Bonano, manager of Pale Horse Coffee. “I think some don’t realize the sacrifices that military families go through. It has its up and downs for sure.”
Bonano’s husband, a submariner, has been in the Navy for 25 years and is close to retirement. While “he has missed a lot to serve his country,” Bonano said, “we have gained an extra family. You get to be real close to other service members and their families.”
“I have been so proud to be a military wife,” Bonano added. “My daughter, now 18, knows the importance of what her dad had to do and is still doing.”
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