VP: What does it mean to you to lead Veteran’s PATH?
First, it’s an incredible honor to be able to work alongside my fraternal brothers and sisters. After serving in the Marine Corps, I have always found a kindred spirit when I meet other veterans; there has always been a desire to connect with them. On a deeper level, I watched in 2003, as US troops began engaging in ground combat and feeling deep pride and sorrow, side by side. Pride in that I watched young Marines and knew the commitment and sacrifice that they felt, but sorrow as I knew that we were going to experience an entire generation of veterans that would suffer deep physical and emotional wounds. Years later, this is now being realized. Veteran’s PATH has a powerful mission and mandate; one that I am committed to seeing through. I am so impressed with the programs and the people – I cannot wait to get to work.
VP: What would you want someone who hasn’t served to understand about your military service?
First, I am very proud of my military service. Being in the military and earning the title of Marine is a time in my life that I will remember forever. I have accomplished things I didn’t know I could do, I have survived things I didn’t think I would, and I was a part of something bigger than myself. I take great pride in those things. Second, I also had a tough time in transitioning back into civilian life. I spent 8 formative years in the Marine Corps, so my transition had some bumps and valleys that were complex and at times difficult. There was a lot of looking behind and yearning to be back in uniform, where things seemed to be ‘simpler’. As you encounter veterans, keep in mind that they have been places and experienced things that have formed them. They are walking this out each and every day to unwind the complexity of serving and finding their way in life.
VP: What would you want other veterans to know?
I took the core values from my military service and have integrated them into my life – personally and professionally. Honor, courage, and commitment are more than words; they are a way of life. I would want my fellow veterans to know that I am here to work for them and to serve them in any way that I can. I have a deep passion and love for my brothers and sisters out there that are struggling and looking for help. I want Veteran’s PATH to be a beacon of hope and healing for vets to come and find the skills, experiences, and community to help them come home and have full lives.
VP: What is your vision for Veteran’s PATH?
At the moment, I have described my first days with Veteran’s PATH as ‘drinking from a fire hose’. As I get my head around where Veteran’s PATH has been, I am developing a strategic plan with the team and Board of Directors that has a strong aspiration to serve as many veterans as we can. I have an ambitious vision that includes deepening our programs, expanding our reach to new communities, and developing a nationally accessible model to take what Veteran’s PATH has developed to continue serving hundreds of thousands of veterans across the United States. At the same time, because of my previous work, I refuse to sacrifice quality; it’s important that we remain committed to providing the best services and build positive and safe communities for veterans to engage in.
VP: What kinds of things do you enjoy?
I’m a typical veteran in some ways. My Marine Corps history deeply impacted me and many of the habits remain. I love fitness, particularly weight lifting, hiking, and anything that has to do with water. I am an avid reader, I enjoy cooking, and I am perpetually curious to learn new things. Oh, and I love metal. But, most of all, I really enjoy helping people and seeing them achieve their goals.
VP: Tell us about your family. . .
I am very fortunate to have an incredible family. My wife Athena, has been my business partner in work for the past 12 years. We have worked 24/7 together and she is my best friend. We have been married since 1988 and I can’t imagine my life without her. We raised our family on the premise that we should live a life of sacrifice in service to others. Our family motto is ‘Tego Sine Metu’, which is a Latin phrase that means ‘to protect without fear’. Our family has lived by this and it continues to be a guiding tradition. Currently, my oldest daughter Ashley, teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in Australia, my son Gabe is finishing his economics degree at Sacramento State, and my youngest daughter, Alexis is completing her degree in marketing, while dog grooming and living in Tennessee. They are huge supporters of veterans and passionate about veteran issues. They are thrilled that I am working with Veteran’s PATH and will be serving in an area and for a cause that means so much to me.