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Joe's Story

Photo of Joe

From a very young age, I was taught the value of service. My father has spent his career working in the state and federal legal system and my mother volunteers in the local community in addition to working as a substitute teacher. Both my grandfathers served in the military along with several cousins and uncles, so I grew up dreaming about joining the United States military. During my senior year of college, I started my application to Officer Candidate School with the United States Army to make that dream a reality. Unfortunately, after a six-month application process, I was medically disqualified due to a history of scoliosis and spinal fusion surgeries. As a collegiate athlete with no physical limitations, I was extremely frustrated. And this frustration grew into concern when, over the course of the next two and a half years and medical rejections from the Navy and the Army National Guard, I met many aspiring applicants who simply wanted to serve but who were unable to due to the military medical accessions process. Although it was not how I originally imagined my service, I have been fortunate to be able to channel these concerns into action through public service working for the National Security Innovation Network (NSIN). This innovation office under the U.S. Department of Defense aims to provide new pathways to service for technologists and entrepreneurs. The participants we engage with are eager to serve and have a lot to contribute, even though many have previously been prevented from serving. After many efforts, I secured a medical waiver from the Air National Guard and will be headed to Air Force Total Force Officer Training this fall. I am happy to keep the family tradition of service alive along with my two sisters, one of whom is in medical school working to address the needs of underserved communities while the other is in the process of joining the Air Force herself. I hope to swear her in at her commissioning this spring.