When you see Sam Silver driving around town in his car, you might think he wears everything about himself on the surface. For instance, the exterior of his car is covered in a decal featuring his “Home for Heroes” real estate business affiliation.
“Veteran. Realtor,” it reads over a winding symphony of patriotic colors and stars.
However, did you know Sam can sing Broadway tunes? Did you know he was an intelligence specialist in the Army? Did you know he is an ardent supporter of his daughter and her Special Olympics affiliation?
Did you know he was raised by a single mother for the first 12 years of his life? That he had planned to be in the military for the rest of his career until a painful medical condition took him out of the game? Did you know the economic collapse of 2008 almost cost his family everything, and he still needed to find a way to pay for his daughter’s medical expenses?
He’s a man who’s lived a life filled with surprises, some good and some bad. And it helps to know Silver as someone you can’t have a five-minute conversation with and instantly assume you know everything about him.
“Some people have said I’m boisterous … or have eclectic tastes,” said Silver. However, understanding Sam is understanding that he’ll do “whatever it takes” for his family, heroes and/or community.
Silver was born April 24, 1971, in a North Hollywood-area hospital to Diana Silver, a single mom and employee at the United States Postal Service.
Silver’s mom worked in front of the Van Nuys airport, in a little steel booth selling stamps to those who were hoping to send postage. She would come home, and he would watch his mom, who after feeding her two sons all by herself, would then practice her postage “schemes,” or the way in which she quickly organized the mail to ensure the letters and packages were sent to the proper location.
As a single mom, Diana worked to give her two sons a normal childhood, even after she remarried when Sam was 12 years old.
“I was in the marching band, and played the clarinet … and tuba,” said Silver, adding that his brother, while not in the marching band, had found an affinity for playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, and self-taught himself piano.
While in the marching band and a student at Royal High School, Sam developed a love for two things: music and learning about what people liked.
“I would consider myself a very musical person, and I enjoy singing. I’ll sing Broadway, classical, rock,” said Silver. “I have an eclectic taste in music. And I’ve always been fascinated in learning what other people like as well, and thought I would make a good psychiatrist.”
Although he was intellectually well-rounded, college hadn’t been a sustainable option for Silver and a decision needed to be made.
“My mom agreed to sign me up for the Army when I was 17… in 1988,” Silver said. “I wanted to go in, and I was looking at career education and making it a career.”
Time in the Service
As a teenager going into the military and as a former marching band member, Silver was thrown into a whole new world immediately.
“I mean, it was intense,” Silver said in reference to his boot camp training. “They’d be firing live M60 rounds over our heads while we crawled through the mud.”
Silver said the military offered him a number of things, which included his understanding of camaraderie, discipline and hard work.
After finishing his boot camp at Fort Jackson, Silver was then sent to Fort Huachuca in Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, to receive training in military intelligence.
“I was sent on to do ‘counter countermeasures,’ which I know sounds like an oxymoron,” said Silver. “But my M.O.S. was being a signal intelligence (specialist). So, my job was to know what the (radio) frequencies the military was using, so that our soldiers didn’t use those frequencies.”
However, after months of intensive training, Silver’s job prospects and life goals — which he said were structured around him making a career out of the military — would take a drastic turn.
“I had injured both of my knees in training,” said Silver. “I was scheduled to go to South Korea, but unfortunately my knees couldn’t take it … there was no cartilage left in either one of my knee caps.”
Silver, after being in sick call every day, missing important days of training he would need once he would be overseas, and being pumped full of the military’s “cure all,” Motrin, also known as Ibuprofen, decided that he would need to re-evaluate his future as a career military man.
He would be given an honorable medical discharge from the Army, officially ending what he thought was going to be a career serving his country.
Life after Service
After what had been a devastating blow to him, Silver said he had to move back home with his mother and step-father, and bounced around from job to job.
Eventually he met his wife, Gail, and they wanted to start a family together. But another obstacle would appear in Silver’s life, and he would once again need to find a way around it.
“We had trouble having kids,” said Silver. “We were trying for a long time, and we had a couple miscarriages. So we needed to look at other options available through modern medicine to start our family.”
Often working 18 hours a day, five to six days a week in order to afford the medical procedure, Silver says he didn’t regret it for one second. And for one of the first times in a long while, he and his wife would get a surprise that wouldn’t create more heartache or be detrimental to their plans in life.
“We found out we were having twins,” said Silver, who added that after a few months of pregnancy his wife went unexpectedly into labor. “They were both born premature … they were both so small I could hold each one in either one of my hands.”
From the looking glass of the neonatal intensive care unit, Silver was filled with worry and concern for his children’s lives, two tiny people he didn’t even know yet but had already invested so much in. And as he looked on, he watched his two daughters grow, literally.
“We watched their eyebrows and eyelashes grow. Their little fingernails on the fingers, I could watch those grow,” said Silver. “I sometimes joke with my daughters that they were born in a petri dish.”
Homes for Heroes
He has been in sales for much of the time following his discharge from the military, and he saw an opening for himself in becoming a licensed Realtor.
Looking back on his military service, how the nurses had handled his two daughters in the NICU and his wife had come home every day over the last two decades working as a nurse, Sam said he felt a calling to give back to his community once again.
Also feeling called to tap back into the camaraderie he had felt as a soldier in the military, Silver sought out the organization Homes for Heroes. As a Realtor he had always felt especially indebted to his “brothers and sisters in the military,” and now, through Homes for Heroes, he takes that one step further.
“I basically help them get discounts when they’re buying a home,” said Silver. “And being a part of Homes for Heroes means a part of ‘my take’ on the homes is then donated back to the organization, who then turns around and gives the money to help other heroes.”
According to Silver, heroes come in all shapes and sizes and can be anyone from former members of the military (active, reserve and veterans), to first responders, to even health care professionals and teachers.
“While a part of it is marketing, it’s a truthfully a passion,” said Silver. “If you look at the back of my business card you’ll see all the heroes I’ve given back to. And that’s what it’s all really about. I was looking for something and it came from nowhere. It was meant to be.”