The beginning…The U.S. Army
Basic Training and Fort Ord, CA (Home of the 7th Infantry Division “Lightfighters”)
My military career began as a 17-year-old. One month after graduating from high school, I attended Army boot camp at Fort Dix, NJ; then headed off to Medical Laboratory Specialist courses at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, TX. One of the photos in my collection shows my escape in on the weekends in boot camp (inside my wall locker)! This was one portion of my military experience I would NOT want to relive…but it made everything after it pretty easy.
“Lightfighters” meant that the soldiers carried everything with them on their backs in a ruck sack. It also distinguished the division from mechanized and other division labels. I moved on to my first assignment at Fort Ord, CA, began college, and met some of my very best friends to this day! Lifetime friendships with people from all walks of life are by far the best part of serving in the military! Many of my friends are now retired. Some of them had shortened military careers; and some even made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I don’t take their legacies lightly, and it’s why I am so determined to ensure ALL veterans and their families (whether they retired or not) have the resources they so deserve to live a life of dignity and respect for their service!
I’m so proud to have served as a Surface Warfare Officer in the world’s greatest Navy!
The first phase of my naval career began as a young Ensign on the USS Nashville (LPD-13), then aboard both the USS Saipan (LHA-2) and the USS George Washington (CVN-73) respectfully. I learned so much about leadership, people, the world, and myself while assigned on this string of assignments. Mediterranean cruises (deployments away from home) taught our crews about sacrifice and the importance of having the capability to respond to incidents anywhere in the world without delay. It also showed me the significance of responsibility! I woke up and went to sleep daily with my first thought being the safety and well-being of those who trusted their careers and their lives to my leadership. I was their families’ assurance that they would arrive home safely at the end of the deployment. That was an extremely stressful responsibility and one I didn’t and still don’t take lightly!
The next phase is what I call my “giving back” phase, where I was committed to ensuring the Navy of the future is reflective of society and our nation’s promise of liberty and justice for ALL!
I was assigned as a Diversity Liaison Officer at the Pentagon and Navy Annex in Washington DC in the Minority Affairs office. The position gave me a perspective of cultural awareness and necessity that would continue throughout my naval career. It is the position that gave me a nudge to go to law school, and to have a desire to protect the rights of others!
Executive Officer & Assistant Director of Evaluations (U. S. European Command)
In this role, we were responsible for devising metrics to determine whether training exercises were successful (measuring Return on Investment…ROI). In doing so, we worked with leaders from many NATO and Non-NATO countries in Europe to host planning conferences for our end game – Joint Exercise “Combined Endeavor,” held yearly in Grafenvohr, Germany. I met so many amazing comrades from Europe and Southwest Asian countries. The fraternal bond that is created when you know you are there to protect each other in times of war is unbreakable!
Assistant Director of Navy Equal Opportunity
As E.O. A.D., for the first time in my entire Navy career I had the opportunity to lead Navy-wide cross-functional groups and have input into Diversity and EO policy decisions. It was a responsibility that gave me a first-hand look at flaws in an actual governing system and why it is so important to have protections in place to deter and alleviate injustice. I loved the positive impact I was able to make on so many Sailors in a world-wide footprint of responsibility!
Southwest Regional Navy City Outreach Officer (Seaperch Program Coordinator)
My final assignment as a naval officer couldn’t have been a better one! I was given an opportunity to speak to educational influences from the top state-level officials all the way down to the classrooms to plan, design, and implement underwater robotics programs in Title I schools. The Navy recognized the need to empower youth at an early age so that their interest in STEM careers (which are so important to the navy) develops and remains in tact throughout high school. The Navy wants an organization reflective of society
The Final Chapter: National Naval Officers’ Association (Central Region Vice-President)
The National Naval Officers Association (NNOA) actively supports the U. S. Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the recruitment, development and retention of a diverse Officer Corps that is representative of the best our nation has to offer.
With local Chapters throughout the United States and Far East, NNOA focuses intently on training and mentoring Sea Service officers toward career success while charging them to increase awareness and promote the Sea Services in communities where they live and serve. I’ve been a member of NNOA for the last 16 years, and I have served as the Central Region VP since 2016. If you know Junior Officers in any of the sea service organizations listed above, please let them know about our organization. We are eager to serve them as mentors. If you know retired officers of any rank from one of the sea services, we would be happy to have them aboard as advocates, mentors, or members!