This is my first official message as the Director of your Washington Department of Veterans Affairs! I am humbled and honored to have this opportunity.
My journey is not unlike many Veterans. I joined the military as a way to get out of my hometown and encounter more experiences, more opportunities, and more education than what was available in a migrant farmworker community in rural Florida. The United States Army was the perfect answer for me and provided an opportunity to serve my country. This allowed me to begin a career in public safety as a Military Policeman and I ended my military service with the Criminal Investigations Division. Some may wonder how I transitioned to Washington State, after nearly seven years, I saw an opportunity in a law enforcement magazine for a bilingual investigator at the Department of Labor and Industries. I discharged from the U.S Army, and began my journey with Washington State Government.
Like many other Veterans, because I didn’t serve in combat, I questioned myself and thought “am I really a veteran?”. The answer is a resounding yes, I served honorably, and utilized my earned benefits, such as my GI Bill and VA Home Loan.
Only after serving in the deputy director role for your Washington Department of Veterans Affairs, did I truly learn about all of the earned benefits that veteran and family members are afforded, but often do not claim because they are not aware or believe that they are not worthy of the benefits. My goal is to make more veterans and families aware of the many available resources available to them.
My promise to you is that I will be open to learning how we can continue making things better. I want to listen to our WDVA Team Members, our customer base, our Veterans Organizations, and community partners to hear about your priorities and your challenges.
My intention is to see where our missions and values align and where we have room to grow together.
We will continue to focus on these priorities to ensure we can serve those who serve:
- Recruitment and retention in our agency.
- Assist Veterans without homes in Transitional Housing.
- Reduce service member, Veteran, and family member suicide.
- Connect Veterans to their earned benefits.
My goal is to connect even more of our WDVA Team Members with our customer base, with our Veterans organizations, and with community partners to continue to hear about your priorities and your challenges.
I am excited to roll up my sleeves with you all and continue our business of Serving Those Who Served!