Hurd on the Hill

This week’s Hurd on the Hill column is a truly special edition. In honor of Veterans Day, I asked my Military and Veterans Liaison, Ashley Estep, to tell you why she joined the U.S. Air Force and what motivates her to continue to serve today. I hope you enjoy her story. – Will

Along with being a mother, serving in the military is one of the most fulfilling roles I have played. I was eager to serve in our military to be part of something bigger than myself and make a difference. I wanted to assist our men and women in uniform in any way possible.

I served in the United States Air Force as a Weapons Director, where I controlled aircraft in a tactical environment, such as our fighter jets, bombers and tankers. I have been to places that many just dream of and seen things many cannot imagine. I was assigned to units that would deploy very frequently and can truly say that the men and women I served with are not just military coworkers and fellow service members, but are my family.

Serving in the military opened my eyes to different cultures all over the world and gave me a better understanding of people from all walks of life. I’m glad I am able to continue meeting so many incredible people who also wore our nation’s uniform in my current role serving active-duty military and veterans as Military and Veterans Liaison for the 23rd District of Texas.

For example, one of my responsibilities is leading the TX-23 Veterans History Project, an initiative under the Library of Congress to collect and preserve personal accounts from American combat war veterans. Through this role, I have had the honor of meeting and interviewing some very influential veterans throughout South and West Texas. We have laughed together, cried together and shared our military experiences. During our interviews, I always make a point to ask, do you find it easier to relate to veterans? In an overwhelming response, the answer is yes.

I spend a great deal of my time helping veterans and their families receive answers from the VA and other federal agencies. This is one of the ways that our Congressional office helps constituents and I am proud to do it every day. It does not matter where you served or the time frame you served in, but we as veterans understand each other in a way that is hard to explain. We are a family, and what you do with family is assist and protect each other. This is why my job in the Office of Representative Hurd is so important to me. I enjoy picking up the phone and listening to our veterans and assisting in any way I can. I am honored to meet the people I help when I am crisscrossing TX-23’s 29 counties and make face-to-face connections that can’t be made as easily over the phone.

Every veteran has a story, and I know each of you knows at least one. I encourage anyone who is reading this to the veterans you know about their stories. Many of us would love to talk about our experiences fighting for our country.

As this day carries on and we honor our nation’s veterans, please check on your fellow veteran family members and friends who have returned home. For many of them, the fight is not over. Transitioning back to civilian life can often be just as difficult as deploying. Give them a call, invite them for lunch or dinner. Most importantly, thank them for their service.

A former undercover CIA officer, entrepreneur and cybersecurity expert, Will Hurd is the U.S. Representative for the 23rd Congressional District of Texas. In Washington, he serves on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, as Vice Chair of the Maritime and Border Security Subcommittee on the Committee for Homeland Security, and as the Chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.