“I believe in service. It is one of the core values that I have built my life around. I served 28 years in the military, 8 of them active duty. Today I work at OHSU after working in the Military Department for the state for 12 years.
My field is IT. I served in Iraq in 2010, running all the systems at the base in Kirkuk. I was also in New Orleans after Katrina, helping with the cleanup, and have been sent other places as well.
Like many veterans, I was affected by the pollution from the burning oil fields in Iraq. Now I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. I will have it for the rest of my life and the way the disease progresses, my lungs will get increasingly scarred over time. Breathing will become more difficult.
I am a single parent to three boys. I was very intentional in taking this job at the state because while I could make more money in IT in the private sector, I need stability, health care and retirement benefits. I need stability and health care so I can take care of my boys now. I need retirement benefits so I can take care of myself later. My health is going to deteriorate and one of my biggest fears is becoming a burden on my sons or on the state. The military doesn’t provide much in the way of a pension. I am really counting on PERS.
If the state decides they do not want to have honor, they are not just breaking a deal with me, they are breaking one to my kids. I held up my end. I am a man of my word and I meet my commitments. When they said you have to go to Iraq, I went, “OK. I will go to Iraq and do my job.” I think the state has to also honor its commitments. Those governor and legislators in Salem stand up and swear an oath. They have an obligation to fulfill their end of the deal. That’s how I feel about it. “