Friday, July 21, 2017

Ben Manning travels the world to return home, to grow roots and give back to the community by Elizabeth Richards

Windham High School (WHS) graduate Ben Manning had an opportunity to see the world during his time as a Navy Seal. Now, he’s returned to the Windham community to put down roots and settle with his own family in the area where he grew up.  
Manning has always had an ambitious streak. After attending Windham Christian Academy through the eighth grade, he chose to attend WHS because of the academic opportunities available there. 

Academics came easy for him, he said and at WHS, he had the chance to take AP and other advanced classes such as, a college calculus class, earning him college credit before even leaving high school.  

Manning graduated third in his class at WHS and was offered a full scholarship at the University of Maine. Although he’d thought about joining the military, he said the scholarship was too good to turn down. The credits he had earned in high school, combined with a heavy class load, allowed him to graduate from the University with a degree in Construction Management in three and a half years. After graduating, Manning joined the Navy.

The sole reason he went in was to become a Navy SEAL. When he joined, he had a contract that guaranteed him a spot in the training program; but after that it was up to him to prove that he could make it through. He wanted to be a SEAL because from his perspective - both before joining and after being a SEAL - they are the best of the best. Being a part of that elite unit was what he was after.
In his eight and a half years in the Navy, not only did Manning travel the globe, from Europe to the Middle East to South America and beyond, he gained essential skills in leadership, decision making, and stress management that he said he could not have learned in such a brief period of time anywhere else. “It’s high paced. It’s going nonstop the whole time. But for me, it was awesome, because of how much I could learn in that short amount of time,” he said.  

The scope of work is broad and demanding and SEALs must be able to perform at a high level under high stress. “They require a lot out of you and you have to perform at the highest level because there are such high stakes,” he reports. That’s why there is such a difficult screening process to become a Navy SEAL. Few people can handle the high stress levels and make the right decisions quickly enough to keep people safe, Manning said.  “If you don’t have all that, that’s when people will get hurt - when the stakes are high, when the risk is high,” he said.

Manning’s time as a Navy SEAL helped shape who he has become. Those life experiences have helped him mature and develop as a person. Growth in all aspects of his life: marriage, parenting, physical fitness and health, leadership skills, mental, emotional and spiritual are all very important to Manning. Working as a Navy SEAL allowed him access to vast resources that he could use to learn and grow. “Now, it’s kind of ingrained in me and I’m able to pull those resources, and hopefully be able to help out other people with those resources,” he said.

Manning and his wife, Kelley, moved to Windham a few short weeks ago with their two young daughters, Hazel and Violet. They are building a home in Windham and are ready to put down roots.  “We’re looking at getting invested in the local community and hopefully being able to add some value,” Manning said.  

At thirty, Manning has plenty of time to make an impact in the community. He has joined the family business, MGM Builders, as their Special Projects Manager. Manning says he believes he has a lot to offer to the Windham community. He would like to work with the local police department in any way they see fit. His experiences as a Navy SEAL included training many police squads have experienced, and he has worked as a dog handler for the past few years.  After settling in, he would also like to reach out to the high school and possibly work with students interested in strength conditioning and fitness programs.  

Manning said he has a passion for seeing people succeed, and for mentorship. “Over the years one of the biggest ways I’ve learned, is having good mentors that have helped me grow and learn. That’s one of the areas I would like to contribute back to,” he said. His experience at WHS was a great one, and he hopes for the same kind of experience for his own children. He likes to lead by example, he said, especially for his girls. “As I go forward I want to be living a life that they want to emulate. I think Windham is a great place to do that,” he said.

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