In one way or another, I have been in a military family for most of my life. I was born in Colorado Springs, CO, while my father was stationed at NORAD as a Captain in the US Air Force. Not long after I was born, he became sick. He battled testicular cancer and lung cancer before succumbing to pneumonia with when I was three. My mom would be a military widow with three dependents until she remarried when I was six. I attended LeTourneau University in Longview, TX, and met Joanna Hartzell when I was a junior and she was an incoming freshman.
I graduated from LeTourneau with a degree in Electrical Engineering Technology in May of 1995 and married Joanna in December of that year. At the time, she was an Airman in the Pennsylvanian Air National Guard. She would later transfer to the Texas Air National Guard.
Our son was born in 1999, and we experienced the remaining 17 years of Joanna’s 25 year military career as a family. We learned to deal with the challenges of drills and deployments, both to home station and overseas.
Joanna has degrees in psychology and counseling, and she had extensive training for her deployment to Afghanistan, but these could not adequately prepare her for what she experienced there. She returned with a greater understanding of what our veterans endure and it has given us both a passion to help them get the treatment they need and deserve.