I served in the Marine Corps for eight years with three combat deployments and was medically retired in 2015 due to combat-related injuries. Six months before I left the Marines, I also went through a divorce. I re-entered the civilian world with no direction and no idea what to do with my life. I was physically, emotionally and financially broken.
I struggled to find my path and get back on my feet. Then, three months into civilian life, I rescued a dog who I named Bulldog. Things were difficult, and at one point Bulldog and I even lived in my pickup truck. During those times, Bulldog was all I had.
I ended up moving in with my father for almost a year as his caregiver while he was on hospice. Every day was a battle, and for the first time in my adult life, I felt like I was fighting alone with no clear purpose. I battled PTSD, night terrors and insomnia, but Bulldog was always there for me. He always knew how to help. He was one-of-a-kind: the smartest and most perceptive friend I’ve ever had.
In the fall of 2016, I was able to get my father full-time care which allowed me to start school. I moved to Waco where I began helicopter pilot training. In 2019, the degree program I was enrolled in closed. Though I still didn’t know where my career was heading, I continued pursuing my training and education. After several school changes and a cross-country move, I ultimately earned my bachelor’s degree and finished my fixed-wing pilot certifications as well. I graduated in December 2021 and began seeking employment in a tough job market.
Engineering had always interested me, but I was apprehensive about pursuing it as a career – I thought it would take several more years of school and multiple hurdles to overcome. When I learned about L3Harris and began talking with a recruiter, the opportunity seemed too good to be true. But, as fate would have it, my path brought me right back to Waco as a Mass Properties Engineer with L3Harris. From my first day last June, I knew this was my dream job. I work with the most amazing people, I gain invaluable knowledge every single day, and I get to work with some of my favorite aircraft. For the first time in years, I wake up every day with a sense of purpose.
I got my dream job, and last August, Bulldog and I were able to move from a small travel trailer into our own home with a huge yard. Sadly, Bulldog passed away with little warning just before Christmas. It was an incredible loss; he got me through some of the most difficult times of my life, and I wouldn’t be where I am without him. I am just grateful to have had his friendship when I needed it most.
Things have been tough but working at L3Harris keeps me going. I’ve made friends, I feel genuinely valued and every day I put my aviation and military experience to use in an engineering role. I am truly honored to be a part of the incredible group of people that are doing such great things to support my fellow brothers and sisters in arms. Life can be brutal. Sometimes it may seem like more than you can bear, but you have to put one foot in front of the other and keep pushing forward. Eventually you’ll get to where you want to be.