SOF program has been assisting me since the day I arrived back in the United States after suffering injuries sustained in Afghanistan. Mike Conklin was at my bedside and told me SOF would be here to support me whenever I was ready. I never planned on reaching out until several years later; I decided to retire and pursue a law degree. I reached out to Mike and told him of my desire to pursue a law degree. The next day I received a call from my new “mentor,” the Honorable Jack Farley, retired judge of the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. The mentorship given to me by Judge Farley was invaluable and helped set me on a path to complete my law degree.
I had to overcome a significant number of hurdles to attend law school, but the most challenging transition was not anything physical, but rather, it was mental. I was not too fond of crowds, and large class sizes would be an issue for me. Judge Farley and I discussed the possible choices for me to attend law school, and the Catholic University of America seemed to fit my needs best. My finances were also a concern to me due to the reduction in my pay. SOF helped relieve some of that stress with a monthly stipend for the first year of law school. These items may seem trivial to some, but for me, it was life-changing.
After graduation, my current plans are preparing for the District of Columbia’s Bar exam and a job search within the Defense industry. I do not feel I have completed law school because I am spending countless hours in my bar prep course. Juggling the class and my kids’ extracurricular activities have been exhausting, but I am thankful to SOF for helping me to get into the position I am in now.
My injuries have reshaped my family and my life altogether. SOF helped me not to forget that there are still good people in this world. Strangers reaching out to help me seemed unreal and made me distrustful. SOF reopened that door of trust I have closed off to the world. I wish to continue on the path of doing some good in this world. The skills I honed as a Naval Officer – leadership, relationship building, trust, adapting to chaos – combined with my Juris doctorate will be instrumental in allowing me to continue to serve my community and country in a new capacity.