Outstanding Dissertation Award
My military brothers and sisters continue to return from conflicts around the globe. Many of them with physical and mental challenges that have created barriers to their civilian integration, including myself. As a soldier, I lived by the creed and the 7 Army Values. The Army’s seven core values are Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity, Personal Courage. The first half of the U.S. Soldier’s Creed reads,”I am an American Soldier. I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States, and live the Army Values. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade." As a veteran, I have a new mission to farm and help fellow veterans. I found peace and a mission in farming. I wanted to share that with my peer veterans. As such, my research focused on adult agricultural education programs that serve veterans as they transition back into the civilian society, face physical and mental challenges, begin a new career in agriculture, and construct new identities. Thus, this dissertation and my work was, is, and will be about them, the veterans I stood beside in Afghanistan, Iraq, Ft. Bragg, and the ones I have met after my service. My children, Jade, Kylli, and Mia have been my motivation and strength through this process of living with PTSD and a TBI while earning my PhD. I thank everyone especially my advisor, Dr. Kim Niewolny and my committee, Drs. Tom Archibald, Sarah Baughman, and April Few Demo. Along with CALS, the ALCE department, my graduate student peers, and Dr. Jim Dubinsky (VT Veteran Caucus and mentor). You all let me explore my unique passions and find my own ways to serve our community, our university, and our department through service, research, and evaluation. Virginia Tech was an excellent bridge to my professional and personal growth. Hooah! and Ut Prosim - That I May Serve! GO HOKIES!