The Man Behind the Mission

From Extreme Poverty to Decorated War Veteran and Family Man

My father grew up in extreme poverty in Poughkeepsie. His family lived in a house with an outhouse for a bathroom. He first used an indoor bathroom at school.

His mother was raising a family of (how many?). She had no more than a 4th or 5th grade education, which was not uncommon for Black women in the early 1950’s.

My father was Black at a mixed race school. A successful athlete, he was captain of the baseball and football teams… and school president too!

After high school, he left home with $20 in his pocket from his mother. That $20 was all that his mother had. It meant that his family wouldn’t have anything to eat -- and she gave it to him anyway.

She said, “Don’t ever come back here. There’s nothing for you here.”

My dad went into the military, fought in Vietnam, and went on to become an officer and a decorated War Veteran.

After that, he went to medical school.

He married my mom and had us, and had some triggers on occasion, but for the most part, he was fine. He’s been an amazing father to me and given me every opportunity his mother couldn’t have given him when he grew up.

I have often wondered what made the difference for my father. Why did he succeed when he came home? Was my father lucky because he had my mom, and he was educated?

My dad was able to have a successful life. My father worked all the time and always said to me: “If you work hard you won’t be depressed!”

Others don’t. Others fall apart, go do drugs, and get depressed.

This is what inspired me to start United States of Camo -- to bring awareness to our heroes so that they will not be ignored or forgotten.