Infinite Victories: You’ve served our country with honor and pride. Now you serve other Veterans. Tell me a bit about yourself and how you sense a victory?
Waco Blakley: Growing up in rural Weatherford, OK with a grandpa who was a highly decorated WWII Veteran after he stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy and a father who served in the jungles of Don Tam, Vietnam in 1968, I understood the importance of service before self. I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in February of 1990 and served as a Marine Embassy Security Guard at the American Embassies in Paris, France, Warsaw, Poland, Vienna, Austria, and Kiev, Ukraine before I was honorably discharged in July of 1994. I started a beautiful family and quickly understood that I still had a strong desire to wear the uniform and serve my country, so in March of 1999, I re-enlisted into the Oklahoma Air National Guard as a Combat Arms Instructor with the 137th Security Forces Squadron. Two and a half years later, the events of 9/11/2001 would forever change my life. Three deployments in direct support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2001-2005) molded me into the man I am today.
Through a different set of lenses, victory comes to me every single day! A 6 month hospitalization in 2008 where I coded twice, nearly losing life…I lost 35% of my pancreas while losing 76 lbs., forcing me to learn how to simply walk again…the suicide of a young SSgt assigned to my squad…countless challenges with my physical, psychological, and spiritual injuries from combat deployments…and the official retirement of a 24 year military career. Victory is constant when you have experienced true life altering defeats and challenges. I come from a family of great men…great men who have fought with their own blood, sweat, and tears to serve a nation we cherish. I hope in some small way, I have done my part as well.
In closing, I hope that the younger generations of Americans truly become educated on just what a Veteran is and more importantly, revere the service and sacrifices they made. I have been serving as the Transition Patient Advocate the Oklahoma City VA Medical Center for the past 11 years to ensure that our Post 9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans are given the care and respect they deserve. Because of that distinct honor to serve these honorable men and women-my brothers and sisters-I am victorious every single day!