You served in the U.S. Army for more than 12 years working as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician. Thank you for serving with bravery, diligence, and perseverance. What did you learn from that experience and how has it informed your work in Congress?
I have three major lessons that I learned from my time in service. First, never ask your men to do something that you yourself wouldn’t do. The same applies to the people you represent. Second, understand that the things you do affect people in real ways. As a bomb technician, if I made the wrong decision, it could have cost somebody else their life or their legs. As a Member of Congress, the decisions I make can affect somebody’s ability to pay their bills, or for their child to get a good education. It matters. And finally, serve the way that people do in combat. You can’t be in this to become rich or famous, you need to be in it for the right reasons and to improve the lives of those you represent.
As a former Staff Sergeant and a veteran yourself, what do you believe are the most critical needs for veterans returning from service, and what should be done to address those needs?
It is near impossible to replicate the purpose you have when you are risking your life for your friends every night. The most important thing that we can do is find the next greatest purpose in the world that we can give our everything towards, like we did in combat.
How has your experience as a wounded veteran shaped your personal path forward and the road you take to help other wounded veterans?
It helps me realize that there are only two real disabilities in this life: a lack of courage and a lack of determination. If you have the courage to be bold, daring and to try something new, coupled with the determination, drive and fortitude to do everything that you can to accomplish your goal, nothing can get in your way.
As a Wounded Warrior Project alumnus, how do you relate to WWP’s mission of service and commitment to honor and empower warriors?
Those that served are the most capable individuals on earth. They undertook the most difficult missions under the most trying conditions, alongside people with whom they may have had nothing in common with - and they still got the job done. They embody what America is all about, and empowering the world to see that is my priority, just like WWP’s.
September 11, 2021 marks the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. As someone who served and was injured in Afghanistan, what message would you share with other warriors who may be struggling with the recent developments there?
Your service was not in vain. You kept terrorists away from American soil for two decades. You served your brothers and sisters to your left and right and those men and women are absolutely worth it. Regardless of what we are seeing in Afghanistan right now, nothing can ever take that away from you.