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Service Runs in My Blood

Joining the military was always my choice, though service runs in my blood.

Both my mother and my father served in the United States Air Force. I grew up here in Oklahoma with both parents being stationed at Tinker Air Force Base. My maternal uncle served in the United States Marine Corps. His involvement in mine and my brother’s lives was a large influence on my brother choosing to serve in the Marine Corps. My paternal grandfather and great grandfather served in the United States Navy, with my great grandfather serving on the USS Nevada in WWII. My father has traced our families' service back to the Revolutionary War. Like I said, service runs in my blood.

When I was old enough, my heart knew it wasn’t whether I would or would not serve, it was always which branch. Many factors went into my decision but, ultimately, I wanted the reputation of being a Marine.

After my time serving on active duty, I came back to Oklahoma. My service did not end in the Marine Corps; it only gave me a cause to champion. I enrolled at the University of Central Oklahoma and, after some difficulties with the enrollment process, I interviewed to work in the Veterans Affairs office on campus. I used my leadership skills the Marine Corps enhanced, my passion for service, and love for family to make waves of changes. I wanted better—not for me, but for everyone who came after me. From the time I started working at the VA office at UCO to now is amazing to see and fills my heart with joy. If we all put in effort to leave everywhere we go a better place, we together can change the world.

I have been honored to take my military experience and use it to better those who served before me, with me, and after me.

My husband is a United States Navy veteran. Together, we run Oklahoma’s Freedom Rows program, The Warriors. The program is a grant funded by the Department of Veteran Affairs to US Rowing. We are one of many programs across the United States allowing veterans the opportunity to row. Rowing is a great sport to get in shape. It is also therapeutic. The water itself is therapeutic, but our crew saves lives. We support each other, and not just in rowing. This program has given me another opportunity to serve others and make the world a better place. Coaching The Warriors is just one of the many hats that I wear.

I am also able to continue to serve my fellow service members and veterans through my suicide prevention efforts. I get to teach first responders, military members and veteran groups about suicide prevention and suicide intervention. I use my experience from the military and my growth from outside to help coalitions across the United States develop plans to reduce suicide among service members, veterans and their families. Every day, we are all battling something. By taking an extra minute to check-in on your “battle buddy,” you could just save their life. Service runs in my blood, and I will continue to serve my community and my family.

JessicaRose Johnson, M.A., is owner of Rosebud Consulting LLC. She can be contacted at