Concern from 7,647 miles away

Published 6:26 pm Saturday, January 14, 2017

While stationed in a war zone in Kabul, Afghanistan during 2012, I reached out to two bank professionals that I had never met in Mississippi to help me secure the home we presently live in.

At the time, my wife and I were renting and living with family due to some hardships, but were finally in a position to relocate and buy a home of our own.

I searched for properties online near my birth home of Tylertown, and found one available that was in foreclosure. State Bank of Brookhaven represented it.

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In pursuing the home, I had the pleasure of dealing with two loan officers over the phone. The officers stepped up and assisted my wife and I through what should have been a very difficult transition.

What should have been hard to do from thousands of miles away became a piece of cake.

Dustin Walker the newly appointed president of both the main State Bank office and the two branches here in Brookhaven, and his fellow officer Geralyn Russell were concerned enough for my wife and I that they became adamantly involved through the whole purchasing procedure.

I remember quite vividly the long discussions I had with the two while at work near the United States Embassy in Afghanistan. Their kind, reassuring voices guided us through the tangle of formality.

Both officers drove out to the property — nearly 45 minutes away —to meet my wife, show her the house and help her decide if this was the right one.

Like choosing a mate, that can be a difficult decision. But with their expert advice, they guided her ‘boots on the ground’ on the location of the home site, while I was ‘boots on the ground’ with the soldiers in Kabul.

Neither forced our hand. They simply answered all questions professionally and patiently.

As it turned out, we were about to move into a very peaceful and quiet environment. The county constable became our nearest neighbor, which gave my wife a great sense of security while I was away.

The fact that Geralyn’s husband, Maj. Brandon Russell, served overseas in a war zone like I, drew my wife and I to her.

Brandon began his service in the Mississippi Guard, but later left the comforts and safety of home to join two tours in the Special Forces in a war torn Afghanistan.

I for one know what he went through despite remaining “behind the wire.”

The Russells are longtime residents of Brookhaven, and parents of two children Abby, 7, and Dalton, 5. Brandon is now employed with Entergy.

Geralyn has worked with State Bank for 14 years. She currently serves as vice-president.

Dustin and Stacy Walker are also longtime residents of Brookhaven. They have two children Alice Anne, 17, a senior at Brookhaven High School, and Gatson, 15.

Stacy is an assistant principal at Brookhaven High School.

Both families attend First Baptist Church of Brookhaven.

To some a bank is just a bank — a place where you place money for safekeeping and remove funds to pay bills. But for my wife and I, one rises like cream to the top, and that is the main office of State Bank in downtown Brookhaven.

I do my business with other banks in town and other cities, but today, I want to put an emphasis on one that employs two special people.

Thank you Geralyn and Dustin for taking concern to a new level for us.

God bless you and God bless America.

Mike Dykes is a pastor and story teller. He can be reached at