Last week, I walked out of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America’s headquarters and into a new chapter in my life. While the decision to leave a job I love wasn’t easy, I’m excited to have the opportunity to pursue other projects that will allow me to make the greatest possible impact.
During my time at IAVA I’ve been humbled, challenged, but most of all – inspired. And, I’m incredibly grateful.
I’m grateful not just for the opportunity to make a meaningful impact, but I’m incredibly grateful for Paul’s trust, confidence and relentless belief in me that often exceeded what I envisioned for myself. IAVA simply couldn’t have been the true honor and experience of a lifetime without Coach Rieckhoff’s willingness to throw me the football.
Like many of our nation’s service members, I grew up in a working-class family. I went to college on an ROTC scholarship and was sworn into the Army in 2004. In 2008, after two tours in Iraq, I left the Army but never left the path of service I started walking down when I decided I’d join.
I’ll never forget the eighth grade career day trip I took to Ft. Myer in my hometown of Arlington, Virginia. That day, while watching “The Old Guard” execute flawless drills, I was swept off my feet and knew in my heart that serving my country was the right path for me.
Since leaving the Army, I’ve traveled the country in pursuit of opportunities to make a positive impact on our nation. I’ve worked to ensure the voices of all Americans were heard in Washington. I’ve had some of the best beers of my life with World War II vets in an American Legion Hall in New Hampshire and will never forget the heartbreaking stories I’ve heard from workers whose jobs in Virginia, Illinois, and Wisconsin were shipped overseas. And for the past two years, I’ve had the distinct privilege of leveraging my experience to make sure the voices of my brothers and sisters in arms were heard.
It’s difficult to move on from such rewarding work, but change is ultimately good – it allows us to grow, stay nimble, and gives us new knowledge and perspectives. And although I’ve left IAVA’s ranks, I remain passionate about the need for IAVA’s voice to be part of our national conversation and will continue to do my part to increase recognition for #SheWhoBorneTheBattle, as well as bridge the growing military-civilian divide.
Stay tuned for more details on what I’m up to next! In the meantime, I’ll continue to be rooting for Team IAVA as they fight to ensure America has the backs of our three million Post-9/11 generation veterans.