Bradley Herron - Graduate

Dec 23, 2011
Graduates Brandon Schantzer and Bradley Herron
Bradley Herron - Graduate

Perhaps it was no surprise that Bradley Herron would fight for his country on day. He grew up near Patrick Henry's Virginia birthplace. His high school's mascot was the Patriot. His grandfather fought in World War II, storming the beaches of Normandy and then serving under General Omar Bradley in Northern Africa.

But Herron's future seemed anything but clear when he dropped out of high school at 17. He had taken his parents recent divorce hard. He had been skipping classes and getting into trouble. "I was a hooligan," Herron says. The next few years were an aimless blur of odd jobs at restaurants, warehouses and construction sites.

When he was 20, Herron's outlooks changed. His best friend had joined the Marines and been transformed. "I saw how it really turned his life around," Herron remembers. "He went from getting into trouble to high and tight, very squared away, very mature. I wanted to be like that." So Herron studied for his GED and signed up for a six-year enlistment with the 82nd Airborne. "I wanted something more constant."

After basic training, Herron quickly found himself in Afghanistan where he served for eight months in 2003. The following year, Herron was deployed to Iraq, where he worked with local leaders on infrastructure improvement projects, guarded convoys and did "basic infantry stuff."

Despite having served in two war zones, it was Herron's experience back in the U.S. that would come to scar him. Called up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Herron patrolled New Orleans. He remembers wading through fetid waters as a nightmarish scene unfolded around him. "It was complete and utter devastation," Herron says. "I've never seen anything like that. Bodies were just floating; people were abandoned in nursing homes"

When he got out of the Army in 2008, Herron moved to Pennsylvania to be near his wife's family, and enroll in community college. While studying, he took a part-time job as assistant to the college's military advisor. In this position, Herron helped young veterans navigate benefits paperwork. "I could relate to every single one of them. I liked to help them."

As a Wounded Warrior Program Fellow, Herron performed case work in a Pennsylvania district office of Rep. Robert Brady. In addition to veterans issues, Herron worked on immigration and social security issues. Whatever the task, he approached it methodically. 

In December 2011, Bradley Herron accepted a position with the Department of Veterans Affairs as an Operation Iraqi Freedom Outreach Coordinator.