I was born in Newport News, VA 1976. My father was a career military man. My 2 sisters, 3 brothers, and I were raised primarily by my Mom. We moved around quite a bit during my younger years. When I was 10 my Dad retired and we moved to my Grandfather’s tobacco farm in Halifax, VA close to a small town called S. Boston where I learned a lot about life, hard work, and morals from my Grandfather and Grandmother. They were a major part in my upbringing other than my parents. I learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from my grandfather. My father did provide a good sound house for us but seemed to be gone working most of the time. Even though I moved around a lot we always lived in the country until I was 16 and moved to Tampa, FL. This was quite a culture shock, but learned a lot about the world there, some good, some bad. After high school I completed some college while working 2 to 3 jobs. It was during this time I thought I would probably never have the opportunity to see the world and could also have my college paid for, so I decided to join the military with an Army Ranger contract in 1999.
I served for almost 7 yrs. During this time I completed my training for the Rangers and was stationed in Savannah, Ga. I meet my wife (Trish) and was scheduled to be married on Oct, 6 2001. 9/11 happened and we were locked down. I was barely able to make it to my own wedding our honey moon was canceled since I was only given 2 days to get married and return. Two of Trish’s’ uncles were firefighters in New York and 1 of them lost 6 of his crew at the world trade center. He actually made it to our wedding and we honored him and the fallen firefighters at our wedding. After the incident on 9/11 I deployed to Afghanistan, and later to Iraq for a total of 3 deployments with Special Operations. We took part in the invasion of Iraq, including the rescue of an American POW, after Saddam was capture we were charged with the guarding of Saddam during the beginning of his capture. We took part in multiple missions during our time in Afghanistan also. A ranger body of mine fell from the back of a helicopter, and I caught him breaking his fall. He walked away and, I tore all the muscles under my shoulder blades and crushed my right hand during my service. Trish was pregnant with our 3 child upon leaving the military service.I returned to the civilian world with a troubled mind and spent about 5-6 yrs trying to recover myself from my experiences at war. I got a job in construction with one of my ranger buddies (Tommy). I attempted to return to college with no success. I was enrolled with Veterans Affairs (VA) in which they tried many different ways to help me, exercises, medication, etc… with no true progression. I have been lucky to have Trish because she kept the family together during my times of rage and discontentment. Since then we have had 7 children. In 2008 on top of my mental discontent from military service, we lost our 11 months old girl to an accidental drowning. I lost it and left for Texas on my own to work, losing most of my current work at home due to the accident of our daughter and the economy. I returned home with nothing to show for it. I started working on small jobs here and there, mostly just passing time it seemed. Tommy was at a turkey federation seminar where he met Dan. Dan just starting The Freedom Outdoors was telling Tommy about the organization. Tommy told him about me and Dan contacted me and told me there was a hunting trip coming up and invited me to come along. I agreed and wanted to bring my son since I wanted to give my kids what my grandfather gave me, and wasn’t really interested in killing things as much anymore. My son and I had a great time, and returned for more hunting trips with Dan and the Freedom Outdoors. We also did horseback riding trips, ATV riding, and camping with the Freedom Outdoors. My oldest son was able to get his 1st big game kill and I was able to get my 1st buck with a bow that Freedom Outdoors gave to me from a donation from Soldiers of Christ.
Slowly not realizing it I began to stop thinking about the war so much and other things haunting me from my past. Freedom Outdoors was doing something that the VA and others could not. It was giving me my life back as it was meant to be. My attitude with my children and wife started to change. Recently I have started back in college and finished my AS degree, earned my Paramedic License and currently working on my bachelors to go on to PA school. I am so glad that there are people out there like Dan/ Freedom Outdoors a veteran himself that care about other vets enough to give their time to help others. I believe in his cause and have recently joined his efforts in hope to help other vets out in way that has truly helped me. Thank you Freedom Outdoors!