I always feel conflicted when I hear someone say “Thank you for your service.” It was my honor and pleasure to serve, and I didn’t join for recognition. I know many veterans feel the same way, but I still feel obliged to thank people back, since only a small fraction of our nation has worn a military uniform.
To me, there is nothing quite as unique or as fulfilling as military service. Talk to 10 service members or veterans and you will hear 10 different stories of how they ended up in the military, but all of their stories share some common threads – selflessness, a sense of common purpose, and a calling to a purpose outside oneself.
My calling to military service began at a young age. Both of my grandfathers served in the Army during World War II. My father received two Purple Hearts for his services as a medevac pilot in Vietnam. I was honored to enlist in the Army after high school as the next generation of my family to serve. I served for just less than 10 years – nine years, 10 months and 22 days to be exact – and it was the most rewarding and fulfilling job I have ever had. A certain camaraderie develops among today’s service members in the all-volunteer force that would be hard, if not impossible to replicate in any other environment.
During my service, I deployed to South and Central America to support disaster relief missions as part of “The War on Drugs,” and deployed to Iraq twice with the 101st Airborne during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was injured in Iraq during my second deployment and was medically retired from the military, but my dedication to the service remained.
Following medical retirement, I realized my life’s purpose was to give back to veterans of all eras, and assist my fellow service members who were still in the fight. I have since volunteered with veteran focused nonprofit organizations, served as an amputee peer visitor at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, and I completed my master’s degrees in policy and social work.
Prior to joining U.S. Rep. Will Hurd’s team, I spent three years as an Army Wounded Warrior advocate assisting wounded soldiers and their families to successfully transition back to the civilian world. Helping these soldiers and families was a very rewarding position, but I soon realized that I wanted to help veterans on a larger scale.
I joined Team Hurd in August as a way to continue serving our nation’s military members and veterans at an individual level, while having the opportunity to affect change at a national level. As a fellow veteran, I recognize the selfless sacrifices that the veterans of the 23rd Congressional District of Texas have made for our country, and I want to ensure that they receive the best possible service.
To my fellow veterans, allow me to say, thank you for serving and happy Veterans Day.
This story was republished with permission from U.S. Rep. Will Hurd’s newsletter.
*Top image: U.S. Army veteran Jon Arnold in Iraq. Photo courtesy of Jon Arnold.