I am a thirty-year US Air Force veteran currently working for the Department of the Air Force as the civilian Deputy Division Chief for Plans and Programs at Headquarters Tenth Air Force, NAS JRB Fort Worth, Texas. Prior to this assignment, I flew MQ-9 Reaper remote piloted aircraft as a civilian instructor pilot in an Air Force sponsored training program. Before this opportunity, I served the Air Force militarily as a mission support officer, squadron commander, Inspector General, remote aircraft pilot, B-52 bomber and F-16 aircrew member accumulating over 5,300 hours of flight time and 4 career specialty ratings. To say the least, my career has been fulfilling.

Not coming from military families, it may be surprising to find my wife and I built our family with strong military roots. Our daughter, Vivian, is an Air Force captain attending the Air Force Institute of Technology for her graduate degree. Her husband, Nate, is prior Air Force and now an analyst with the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. And my son from a previous marriage, Bryson, is a 5-year US Navy disabled veteran. The family matriarch and my better half, SMSgt Jennifer Elmore, is currently serving the Texas Air National Guard with 136th Airlift Wing at Carswell Field. All together our family has completed over 17 deployments and spent a total of 4 years apart since 9/11.

As a native Texan, making my way back home has been a blessing. It is my deep desire to turn this blessing into an opportunity to continue to serve, in particular, our local military families. My family has great pride in our legacy of service, but we know all too well the sacrifice, frustration and pain that comes with that pride. As a result, I make a point to always thank family members for their unique and special military service at every promotion party, retirement ceremony and memorial. For me, giving thanks isn’t enough.

We live in a time when our young people cite the risk of combat injury, death or PTSD as their top reasons to not join the military, yet our service members are four times more likely to die from suicide than from combat. If there ever was a time for me to be involved in reaching out to support military families it is now. Well supported and informed military families are a crucial link to sustaining the small number of the American population that are eligible and willing to serve. My passion for this endeavor can be summed up in a paraphrase of Sir Winston Churchill, “Never…was so much owed by so many to so few”.