Salute to Veterans with Brian Hanlon, U.S. Coast Guard

  • Salute to Veterans with Brian Hanlon, U.S. Coast Guard

Brian Hanlon served as an Officer in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1989 to 1996. He started his career at Jefferson Lab in 2018 and now works as the Security and Services Manager for the Facilities & Logistics Division.

“You can’t really describe what it feels like to save someone’s life. You have to depend on others to keep everyone safe, especially when you are in an unstable environment.”

Brian Hanlon – Security and Services Manager at Jefferson Lab

U.S. Coast Guard – 1989-1996

As Brian Hanlon’s teenage eyes skimmed the surf, he took in the large U.S. Coast Guard cutters just off of the shore. Growing up just a block shy from the Florida coast, he heard the stories of the search and rescue missions and was drawn to them.

“I asked myself ‘How do I get there?’” Hanlon recalls. “The boats looked so cool and the more I learned about the Coast Guard, the more I decided it was the right choice for me.”

The mission set for the U.S. Coast Guard is wide and for Hanlon, that was part of the appeal. Hanlon’s role as an officer largely featured search and rescue initiatives, humanitarian efforts and law enforcement missions.

In 1992, Hurricane Iniki slammed into the Hawaiian Islands. The Category 4 storm has gone down in history as the most powerful hurricane to ever strike Hawaii. After the impact, Hanlon responded to rescue calls for the next 48 hours straight.

“You can’t really describe what it feels like to save someone’s life,” Hanlon laments. “It’s impactful to work with a high-caliber team to do that and a reminder that you are working toward something larger than yourself. You have to depend on others to keep everyone safe, especially when you are in an unstable environment.”

He credits the military as developing his interpersonal skills and the ability to organize efforts to achieve the mission. He says this is especially effective when it comes to managing someone older who has more experience in a specific industry. In this case, he says it pays to be humble and learn from others to understand what you may not know.

“I let the experienced people share. It’s what keeps me out of trouble. That’s the pact,” he laughs.

Hanlon served as an Officer for seven years prior to resigning his commission as Lieutenant in order to continue his service to the country for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

In December of 2018, Hanlon joined the lab as the Security and Services Manager, where he is in charge of implementing safeguards within the security program, such as physical security, badging, site entry and access to sensitive information.

In January of 2019, the threat of a pandemic loomed nearer. Hanlon saw the writing on the wall and began to organize how best to protect the lab’s workforce. His mission included working with the Procurement Department to modify the cleaning services contract and ensure enough cleaning equipment and materials were purchased to try and keep the lab safe. He worked with the Facilities and Logistics Management Division to enforce limited on-site access and to ensure those areas where people worked were thoroughly cleaned.

“There was a lot at stake and we didn’t have much time,” he said. “We focused on the mission to keep people safe.”

Thank you for your service, Brian!

By Rebecca Duckett

The regional home of Jefferson Lab, Hampton Roads, has a rich military history. Located in Southeastern Virginia, the region is currently home to more than 80,000 men and women in uniform, representing every branch of the armed forces. Throughout November 2020, Jefferson Lab is celebrating the region's military ties by highlighting some of our veteran employees who have served in the armed forces and who continue to serve their nation by supporting the research efforts carried out at the laboratory.


Jefferson Science Associates, LLC, manages and operates the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, or Jefferson Lab, for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit