I was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1964. My father was born and raised in the city and he met my mom while stationed at Ft. Benning during his stent in the Army. We moved back to Alabama in the early 1970’s and I graduated from Benjamin Russell High School in Alexander City in 1983. I had already enlisted in the U. S. Marine Corp the prior November and I left Alabama for basic training at lovely Parris Island, South Carolina in August of 1983. I left the Marine Corps in 1987 after having served in the 1st Marine Brigade in Hawaii and Japan and South Korea. Bored out of my mind in mid-80’s Alabama I enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1988 and served most of my tour with the Army in Europe as a trainer and medical equipment repairman. I was honored to serve during the first Gulf War as a trainer conducting training of brick and mortar hospitals to deploy their field hospitals to the combat theater in support of operations throughout the Persian Gulf area. I left the Army in 1991 after sustaining an injury to my back which left me ineligible for continued service.
After the military I did everything from working on industrial robots in textile mills, to working with teenager and young adults for the Catholic Church in North Alabama, to setting up a quality control system for a production machine tool company who was trying to achieve ISO 9000 certification. In 2002, I accepted a position with the Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs as a county service officer assisting veterans and their families with the filing of claims for benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2006, I was promoted to the position of department Training Manager and I worked in that capacity until 2009 when I began splitting my time, due to a hiring freeze, as a hearing officer representing claimants before the Board of Veterans Appeals. I performed in this dual roll until 2016 at which time I was promoted to the position of manager of our Claims Division. At this time, I oversee a staff of 11 which includes 8 professional staff who represent veterans and their family members at all levels of the USDVA appeals process. Our representation routinely recovers in excess of $10 million dollars in retroactive benefit payment annually and untold amounts in ancillary benefits and medical care.
I began my paralegal journey in 2011 with a desire to complete a college degree that I had begun in 1987. Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM) provided the path and after three years of constant class work I graduated with a duel major in Legal Studies and Organizational Leadership in December 2014, three days after I turned 50 years old. I was honored to join my daughter who had graduated from AUM in May of 2014 and my daughter-in-law who would graduate from AUM with her master’s degree the following year.
I love the law and its application and I love the role as an advocate for those who rely on the law, yet need someone to make sure that they are treated fairly by that law and those who interpret it.