Megan Morse - Graduate

Aug 12, 2011
Chief Administrative Officer Dan Strodel and Megan Morse
Megan Morse - Graduate

Megan Morse grew up disliking the military. She resented the occupation that kept her father, a Navy Seabee, away from home.

As years went by though, Morse came to appreciate her family's long tradition of service. Both of her grandfathers fought in World War II and four of her uncles were Marines and several other family members served in other branches as well. But it was her grandmother's military story that would come to inspire Morse in an unusual way.

For the 12 years until she started high school, Morse lived with her grandparents in Mechanicsville, Virginia. "It was perfect," she says of the time. "It was like Leave it to Beaver." Morse's grandparents did everything they could for Morse and her older brother. "My grandmother was more than a soccer mom, she was my best friend and an inspiration," Morse recalls of the woman who attended her school violin recitals, drove her to all her sporting events and taught her how to fold perfect hospital corners on her bed each morning.

When Morse moved back in with her father, life became challenging. She moved out at 16 and finished high school on her own, working various jobs to pay her rent. She stayed in close contact with her grandparents and remained grateful for the lessons they imparted. "My grandparents raised me with that fortitude and structure."

Morse turned down several college scholarships, choosing to work odd jobs and party with friends instead. "I was young and dumb." As the downside of her situation dawned on her, Morse began looking for ways to find structure. Several of her male friends had decided to join the military. She spent time with them discussing the decision, going to the recruiter, helping with paperwork.

When a recruiter asked if she wanted to join up, Morse decided it might give her what she was looking for. "It was either I keep partying and barely get by, or I get myself squared away." She left for boot camp on her nineteenth birthday.

When her grandparents visited Parris Island for Morse's graduation from boot camp, her grandmother revealed that she had been stationed there as a Pharmacist Mate in the Navy while her husband was at war in the Army during WWII. She also revealed that she had joined the Navy in the hopes of being deployed overseas where she might get to be with her new husband, Morse's grandfather.

After boot camp, Morse continued her training, at one point with an all-male unit. She proved herself as a Marine, winning close friends in the process. "I made brothers for life."

After volunteering for deployment in late 2002, Morse awaited the order to ship out amid news that increasingly pointed to the start of war in Iraq. When the time came to deploy in early 2003, Morse was the only one of 12 female Marines in a unit of 117 to go. She would leave on the USS Tarawa, a ship her father had helped build in 1974.

In Iraq, Morse did aviation logistics support, sometimes working as a crew chief on medevac and soldier transport missions. Two helicopter accidents and a roadside bomb explosion left Morse with back and knee injuries, hearing loss, traumatic brain injury and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Due to her injuries, she was assigned to an accounting division doing supply work when she returned stateside. After six months there, Morse left the Marines.

Although she had steady government contracting jobs, Morse was struggling to readjust to civilian life. When she heard about the Wounded Warrior Program, she jumped at the chance.

As a Veterans Affairs Deputy Caseworker for Rep. Brad Sherman of California, Morse helped fellow veterans with pensions, benefits and other issues. "It is definitely not just another job. I have meaning and purpose." She says the position gave renewed her appreciation for the contributions men and woman have made to this country, contributions we recognize on Veterans Day. "For many years, I worked with civilian companies, and it was just another day," Morse says. "I think people should take that day to reflect and honor those who have served." For Morse's family, that includes three generations of combat veterans.

Morse used her experience as a fellow in the Wounded Warrior program to earn a position with Booz Allen Hamilton, a global consulting firm, where she now handles the Business of Governement accounts as part of the Global Operations Civil Team.

Looking forward to the fourth generation, Morse has no specific military aspirations for her 2-year-old daughter. Just as she earned a bachelor's degree in international relations and is working on a master's degree in military intelligence, Morse wants to see her daughter graduate from college. Beyond that, Morse says, "I want her to do what is going to make her happy."