Sean McDowell

Name: Sean McDowell 

Branch: Army

Years Served: 4

Rank: Specialist (E-4)

Military Occupation: 21B – Combat Engineer and 27D – Paralegal Specialist 

Hometown: Lilburn, GA

Twitter Handle: @seanpmcd84

Tell us a little about you outside of the military: 

  • I have been working for Norfolk Southern Railway for the last 16 years. I am currently a Senior Labor Relations Officer, but the majority of my career was spent on the rails in the Maintenance of Way Department.
  • My wife Tara and I have four children together – Auston, Hannah, Lucas and Vivianna.
  • I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and exploring the great outdoors in Georgia. 

Why are you joining the IAVA Cavalry?

  • I am joining the IAVA Cavalry because, for the longest time, I felt that no one had my back once I was out of the military. That feeling of isolation was incredibly difficult, and I don’t want any other veterans to experience it.
  • My passion lies in supporting, advocating for, and championing veterans. By joining the Cavalry, I hope to amplify my impact and assist more veterans than I ever thought possible.

How did your military experience shape you to be the person you are today?

  • My military experience profoundly shaped the person I am today. During my service, I acquired essential tools that would prove invaluable once I transitioned to civilian life. At the time, I didn’t fully realize their impact, but the discipline, unwavering work ethic, and resilience—the ability to ‘embrace the suck’—enabled me to rise from a humble Track Laborer to a Company Supervisor.
  • Remarkably, these same skills facilitated my successful transition to an entirely different field where I now excel.

Which one of IAVA’s policy priorities do you believe is the most pressing? Why?

  • The most pressing priority for me is twofold and is actually my children. Specifically, having women between 18 and 26 registering with the Selective Service and repealing or reforming the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations of Military Force (AUMF).
  • Why? The reasons behind why only men are required to register is a longer conversation and comes from a different time in our country and society. I feel that both men and women should be required to register and be prepared to serve their county should they be needed.
  • However, I cannot endorse this position wholly without also addressing the 2001 and 2002 AUMF’s. If left alone, my children face the possibility of living through another conflict that would potentially take their lives – without the benefit of debating the justification for our sons and daughters to be placed in harm’s way. Nor would they know why or for how long. That is unacceptable to me, and it needs to be corrected.

Which one of IAVA’s policy priorities do you have the strongest personal connection to?

  • As a railroad worker, I have a strong personal connection to IAVA’s policy priority regarding Alternative Therapies for Veterans. The current federal regulations surrounding cannabis and psychedelics place my livelihood at risk if I were to use these treatments.
  • Unfortunately, this situation is not unique—I know many veterans in the railroad industry facing the same predicament. However, recent signs of progress toward potentially loosening restrictions on these therapies give me hope that more people, including veterans, will be able to access them without fear of stigma or jeopardizing their livelihoods.


Our country has an obligation to fulfill its promise to honor and support vets. Make a donation today to help IAVA fulfill its mission to connect, unite, and empower post-9/11 veterans.

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