90A – Logistics Officer
Length of Service
Did you deploy? If yes, where and in support of which operation.
Yes, Iraq for OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM from March 2005 - February 2006, and July 2007 - October 2008. Qatar for OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM from February - December 2013.
What led you to join the military?
The Virginia Army National Guard was the first service to call. I answered the phone after High School one day and listened to the spiel for a few minutes before agreeing to meet a recruiter. My dad was deployed with the Navy at the time, and no, he was not angry I joined the Army over the Navy. I also didn't join the Army to spite him. Anyway, since he was deployed, my mom had to sign the papers with me since I was still a junior in High School in March 1998. My goal was to go to school for Culinary Arts so I was excited I could enlist as a 92G Food Service Specialist. I also received a bonus of approximately $3,000 which was a lot of money for a 17y/o in 1998. I continued serving through High School and College, eventually earning a Criminology degree rather than Culinary Arts and I commissioned as a Second Lieutenant on Active Duty in 2004.
What is the single most important lesson you’ve learned while serving?
The thing that sticks out in my mind is a phrase I always hated, which is that “there are several ways to skin a cat.” The military was always about adapting and overcoming obstacles and that has significantly helped me in my career, in school, while volunteering, in everything I do. As I look back over my career, a majority of my training and education involved problem-solving and I am grateful to have learned that skill.
What is your most memorable moment or time during your service? Why?
I don't have one memorable moment, rather there was a period of time on Active Duty when everything meshed perfectly in my career. I served on Active Duty for nearly five years to include two deployments of 12 and 15 months. Those deployments were not what I would call “fun,” but like many things in life, people can make or break a situation. During both of those deployments as well as my deployment with the Florida Army National Guard, I was fortunate to deploy with a host of characters who not only worked well together, but enjoyed everyone's company in the group. We all knew our jobs and we all knew how to make each other laugh! Laughing, having a good time, and enjoying our off-duty hours were key to surviving deployments to harsh environments.
How has the military helped you grow personally and professionally?
The military gave me a discipline at age 17 that I have mastered and used throughout my life since. As a part of a profession of arms, I learned how to be a professional at an early age and to survive in corporate America and life in general. Finally, those seven Army values which share close ties to Christian values have had a large impact on my life. I memorized them at 17 and they have stayed with me.
If you could tell the world anything you want, what would you say? Why?
I believe in the military and the United States Government. I believe in some form of the draft which I believe would solve the occasional problem we have with recruitment and readiness numbers. I believe everyone would learn a badly needed amount of discipline and further, people who may never have thought they would enjoy the military would enjoy it and decide to remain.
What’s the dumbest / most cliche thing you’ve heard someone say in the military?
"Embrace the suck." I'm not sure where this came from, but I have heard it all too often lately. I always hated "HOOAH," too, but it has slowly and steadily become part of my vocabulary. I won't apologize for many things, but if you hear me say "HOOAH,” I'm sorry.
If you could go back in time and talk with yourself before you joined, what would you say? Why?
Go for it! The military has been good to me from enlisting as a cook in the Virginia Army National Guard to Commissioning as a Transportation Second Lieutenant on Active Duty to where I am now as a Logistics Officer in the Florida Army National Guard. The military opened doors for me that never would have been available had I taken any other path. I have been to Germany, Spain, England, the Czech Republic, Kuwait, Iraq, and Qatar all thanks in part to the Army. I have an Associates degree, Bachelors degree, and now a Master of Fine Arts all largely because of the Army. I have had countless military school and made lifelong friends as well all because of the Army.
If you could tell the average civilian one thing, what would it be? Why?
Read, read, and read more. Understand the topic from multiple perspectives before you impose judgement.
What’s been the most unexpected challenged you’ve faced since leaving the military?
The military has a tendency to speak positivity into people to such a degree that I left Active Duty with entirely unrealistic expectations. "You are the best, you are the brightest, you are the most highly-trained and sought-after people in the world" is what the military told me time and again. Spoiler alert: I didn't land my dream job when I left the Army during Obama's reign. For one, there were no jobs. Secondly, jobs that were available were nowhere near ideal. Third, nothing was available where I could earn even half of my Active Duty pay and benefits.
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On the screen I saw memories of my old life, of my current life, and inspiration for a future life. Images of time in the service, images of the early days of Combat Flags and images of my family shone brightly on large, rectangular screens. A booming voice narrated, offering the story of Combat Flags, my story, to a charmed audience.
I’ve had a gnawing, grating feeling since I graduated college. This feeling I couldn’t shake. This feeling I kept pushing deep, deep down. This feeling that, to this day, creeps up on me and stops me in my tracks. This feeling is that I’ve lost my purpose.