Where did you serve and what did you do?
I served in the US Army from 1995-98, stationed at Kelly AFB, TX (where I served as my battalion’s Public Affairs Officer) and Camp Humphreys, Korea (where I served both as a lifeguard and a flight operations specialist).
Tell us how your dog is helping you continue #StillServing in your community.
Hannah, my German Shepherd, is my seeing-eye dog. I was diagnosed in 2017 with the rare, degenerative retinal disorder retinitis pigmentosa, which has left me legally blind. I was “issued” Hannah in March through Leader Dogs for the Blind. She is simply the most incredible dog I’ve ever met, and is #stillserving through her hard work to keep me safe. I am the Director of Grand Valley State University’s Military and Vetearns Resource Center, and she guides me to work every day across two separate campuses, accompanies me traveling cross-country in my work promoting student veterans’ issues, and provides a calming presence to both my students and me as we work through some pretty tough mental health issues. She has an enormous heart, can be trusted to go anywhere at any time, and always manage to be the consummate professional. She gives me the confidence to take on the world that’s slowly growing dark.
Why do you do it?
I do this because I’m deeply passionate about helping student veterans reach their full leadership position. Because of my disability, I could stay home and earn payments and live a small, safe life. But I see my students struggle every day with making the transition from service to civilian life, dealing with traumas that seem enormous compared to mine. And I can’t help but feel inspired by them; who am I to sit at home, playing small, if they’re willing to get out and work for a better world? It would be disingenuous of me, and I would feel like a fraud (one of the worst feelings for a veteran to have). So with Hannah’s support, I go out there in the world and do the work of supporting these amazing students.