I am the daughter of two immigrant parents who never attained more than a high school education, yet they told me, time and time again, that I could be anything I wanted to be. That notion was a driving force for me, allowing me to graduate from Gettysburg College with a B.A. in Political Science, complete Officer Candidate School with distinction, and serve 23 years in the United States Navy.

My service with the Navy included tours as a Missile Maintenance Officer, Manpower Analyst, Program Manager, Anti-terrorism Intelligence Watch Officer, two tours as a Congressional Liaison Officer, four Commanding Officer assignments, and culminated in a promotion to Navy Captain. I am also a graduate of the Naval War College, from which I received an M.A. in National Security and Strategic Studies.

During my distinguished Navy career, I was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal; the Meritorious Service Medal (3 awards); the Navy Commendation Medal; the Navy Achievement Medal; the National Defense Service Medal (2 awards); and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal. I retired from the Navy in 2003 to accept a Presidential appointment, with Senate confirmation, to be Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

As Assistant Secretary, I was the principal advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs for all Congressional matters and was the Department’s lead advocate on Capitol Hill for the Nation’s 25 million veterans. During my tenure, VA expanded its services for PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries, initiated the largest facilities realignment and expansion in its history, and received the largest VA appropriation increase for that time.

Later, I continued my career in public service as a member of the Governor’s Women Veterans Committee and most recently was the Director of Veterans Services for Allegheny County.

Today, I know that for many people the statement “you can be whatever you want to be” does not ring true. This campaign aims to change that by restoring our value in the American Dream and the belief that you can achieve your goals, whatever they may be, through hard work and service to your community.

I am ready to serve, again. Are you ready too?