Specialist, US Army
The events of 9/11 compelled Andrew to enlist in the Army right after his high school graduation.
Andrew’s battalion deployed to Iraq and conducted combat operations in and around an area known as the “Triangle of Death.” Every day they faced an unseen enemy bombarding them with roadside bombs, small arms, and mortar.
In one instance, the platoon’s living area was directly hit during a heavy mortar attack. It caused the tents the soldiers lived in to catch fire and triggered many secondary explosions. During the melee, Andrew’s squad sustained significant casualties.
Throughout the attack, Andrew repeatedly left the safety of a bunker to give aid to the wounded and to bring them to safety. He also helped with medical evacuations. For these efforts, Andrew was awarded an Army Commendation Medal with Valor.
Unfortunately, Andrew paid a heavy price for his bravery. He was later diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and was medically separated from the Army. His transition to civilian life was difficult at first. Andrew set out to become the first college graduate in his family, but his psychological and emotional injuries instead forced him to drop out of school.
Soon after, he reached out to build a support system, with Sentinels of Freedom as a pillar for his education journey. As he reports, “I graduated college with a degree in human services that will help me help other transitioning veterans.”
Andrew is currently working at the Wounded Warrior Project in Jacksonville, Florida, as an alumni manager.
Andrew lives in St. Augustine, Florida, with his wife, Ashley, and their two daughters.