As a boy, John "J.C." White had three dreams: to be a cowboy, to be a police officer, and to be a soldier. Born in West Germany, where his father-a career military man-was stationed with the U.S. Air Force, J.C. grew up on military bases and always felt destined to serve; so, to become a soldier was a foregone conclusion.
"I was born into it. It's what I knew...what I prepared for," says J.C. "I was building model ships and airplanes. I wanted to travel the world." He first enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1987, serving four years and becoming a veteran of Operation Desert Storm. Then, he turned his experience as a Master-At-Arms into a career as a civilian police officer. That was the end of J.C.'s military story-until 9/11 happened.
Then in his mid-30s, J.C. was moved to re-enlist and joined the Reserves, only to be called up to active duty three months later. He deployed five more times during the War on Terrorism and was medically retired from a traumatic brain injury sustained during his last deployment. In all, his Navy career took him to 30 countries: including some places where he got to travel on horseback and feel like a cowboy, after all.
Although his injuries prevent him from returning to work, J.C. still finds ways to serve his country and community. Over the course of his career, he has supported numerous local charities, volunteered as a Special Olympics coach, and mentored young sailors. "It took a lot of people to support [the War on Terrorism]," J.C. says. "If there's a way for me to dedicate some of my money and time to other guys who went through what I went through, I want to do that."
J.C. has chosen PAWS for Purple Hearts as his charity. To learn more about their mission, visit https://pawsforpurplehearts.org/