Years of Service: 14 Years, US Marines
Units: 29 Palms Combat Service Support Group 1, Combat Service Support Battalion 12
Bootcamp: San Diego Marine Corp Bootcamp, Marine Combat Training Camp Pendleton, Fort Knox Tank Mechanic Advanced Technician Degree
Stationed: 29 Palms Mohave Desert, Iraq via Kuwait, Charlie Company 4th Tank Battalion Gowen Field
Tours: Iraq, Kuwait
Q: Why did you join the Marines? At 17, I knew I wanted to serve my country. Having been raised by a single mother, she had different plans for me and refused to sign the papers. Two years later, at 19, I was a bag boy at a local grocery store, and just looked around at what I was doing with my life, and knew I had a lot more in me. I could give more, I could do more, I could be more. On my 19th birthday, I joined the U.S. Marines.
Q: What was the best thing about serving in the Marines? I had always wanted to be part of something bigger, wanted to help make the world better, work as a team solving real world issues. The Marine’s gave that to me. I became part of a bigger unit, a bigger plan that helped keep our country & freedoms safe. I met the most incredible people and made friends and brothers I’ll keep for life. I loved the camaraderie with my brothers in arms, being paid to rough house and find myself was an amazing experience!
Q: Of all the things you’ve seen around the world, what one thing would you change? Apathy. The most direct threat to humanity right now is apathy. People have stopped caring beyond their bottom-line. Something is changing in the world, creating more self-interested, self-serving individuals. Right now, the world needs more humans that care. There is a lot of talk in the world, little action. I want to see more people become the change they want to see.
Q: What was the most salient moment of your time in the service? I’ll never forget this little girl, during my first tour in 2003. On our way back from Bagdad, we pulled our convoy over, and I looked out my window to see a tiny, filthy little girl with no one around, just playing in the dirt. I was holding a large MRE (meal ready to eat), I knew we weren’t going to eat. I asked the gunny if I could give it to her, and proceeded to take it over to her. I watched as she struggled to lift it with all her might, her smile back at our convoy was all the thanks we needed.
Q: What new career are you working on? My service-related injuries made being a mechanic impossible. While going to school to become an Electrical Engineer, I happened to be sitting through a “filler” 100 level course in social work, where I felt a higher calling telling me I wanted to help others, I wanted to become someone that helped, that created awareness around issues where apathy had taken over culturally. I changed majors, and haven’t looked back. Fall 2017, I will graduate with a Master’s in Social Work and I hope to continue serving our at-risk veterans population or other minority groups.
Q; What has Wyakin done for you? Without the Wyakin Foundation, I undoubtedly would have quit my school when the going got tough. As a wounded veteran, not only was I trying to deal with traumatic brain injury & memory loss, I was also supporting a family while going to school. One day last winter, I was driving down the road in the only car I have, when my transmission went out. I was living paycheck to paycheck, I had no extra funds. I just thought, here it is, this is how it ends. I had no idea how I would get to work to pay the bills or get to school to change my life. Wyakin not only supported me with life’s regular ups and downs, on this day they did more. They fixed my car. This wasn’t a tail-spin. This wasn’t the end. I didn’t have to give up my dream. They gave me a life line to keep working, keep going to school, and more importantly, they gave me the ability to see what it’s like when humans lose apathy, and care. That lesson is priceless.