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Staff Sergeant, U.S. Air Force
Master of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University
Coming from a dual Veteran family, Johnnie enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2007 after completing his undergraduate in Manufacturing Engineering from Tarleton State University in Stephenville, TX. Johnnie was a USAF Special Operations Combat Controller and would serve two combat tours in the Middle East.
In 2011, on Johnnie’s second deployment to Afghanistan, an improvised explosive device struck his vehicle, injuring both of his legs. Johnnie received the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Action Medal for his actions that day. He spent the next three years in rehabilitation and has endured 31 limb-salvage surgeries to-date, allowing him to keep both of his legs. Johnnie found the physical hardships to not be as challenging during his recovery as it was to for the first time separate himself from his family to focus only on himself to put himself back together physically, mentally, socially, spiritually, and emotionally.
Johnnie played golf throughout his recovery process and was invited to compete in the 2013 and 2015 George W. Bush Warrior Opens. He would describe that as “a life changing opportunity for fellowship with other service members in the company of our President.” He was medically retired, with a 100% full and permanent disability rating, from active duty on November 27, 2013.
During his spare time, Johnnie serves veterans, fellow wounded service members and Gold Star families through various non-profits. With Darkhorse Benefits 501-C3, Johnnie focused directly on connecting veterans with suitable employment. In 2016, he began working in the insurance industry for Scottish American General Agency before ultimately deciding to return to school to earn a Master of Business Administration. Sentinels of Freedom was there to assist him with the transition back to school after having not been in a classroom for several years. He was accepted to SOF in August 2017 while he attended Southern Methodist University receiving financial support for 2 year, tuition assistance, as well as networking opportunities. Johnnie currently continues to excel at his career with VARI as a Federal Sales Executive providing a full line of office and classroom furniture at an high-quality and affordable cost. Johnnie travels the nation public speaking and encouraging other veterans to share their stories and experience as often as possible.
Johnnie has shared: “SOF came into my life and a time of a lot of uncertainty to help bring clarity surrounding work, school and finance. SOF allowed me to begin my MBA program without needing to work full time. Being held accountable to providing a snapshot of my personal finances to then be discussed with SOF staff was a blessing as well. Without this program, I do not know if I would be evaluating my finances so intently, but it has paid off.”