The Journey Continues: Tori Howard
My journey this week takes me to a young college veteran who served overseas at Christmas. Tori Howard served in the United States Marine Corps, enlisting immediately after high school graduation in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and served our country from June 2013 to June 2018. She deployed twice to Djibouti, headquarters for Operation Enduring Freedom, Horn of Africa, where she served with the U.S. Marine assault-support MV-22 Osprey aircraft detachment.
Howard comes from a career military family — her grandfather retired after 22 years with the U.S. Marine Corps. She shared that he met and married her grandmother while stationed in Japan after joining the service in 1956. He was severely wounded in Vietnam. Her grandmother waited 20 years before disclosing to her husband that as a 9-year-old child, she survived the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki. Their son and Howard’s father made a career in the U.S. Air Force, and while stationed in Germany, Howard was born. Is it any wonder she always wanted to join the service?
I asked Howard to share her spiritual journey while in the Marines. Looking back, she said that during her basic and advance training, she went to chapel every Sunday.
“That was my place of peace to get me through," Howard said. "So many times I have cried out to God. My hardest year was 2016, during a 3-month Special OPS tour and while I was in the field, my beloved Grandfather unexpectedly died, and I could not go home. Christmas day came three weeks later, and I spent 12 hours on standing alert with Special Ops. When we got back to the base, there was special chow and I made a USO telephone call home. I will not forget that Christmas.
“After my discharge,” Howard said, “there was a hole inside me when I stopped serving my country."
Howard's favorite Bible verse is:
"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!'" Isaiah 6:8
"I have a heart for service,” Howard said.
As a new Texas State student, that “hole” was filled when she met Dr. Charles Johnson at the Medical Explorer Post 4077 information display during the Organization Day Fair.
Dr. Johnson, a former Texas State University faculty member, has been the advisor every year since 1991 to up to 80 students who are seeking careers as health professionals. Every student must complete 59 hours of special health-related certification or licensure training. Members can also opt, with an additional 20 hours of training, to qualify for the Certification Emergency Response Team (CERT). Howard is a CERT volunteer with Hays County EMS as a certified EMT tech.
Tori J-lin Nobuko Howard will one day leave Texas State University and San Marcos in pursuit of her goal to be a medical doctor. I am confident she will succeed. From now on, when I hear the scripture “Here am I. Send me!” I will always think about her.
Let us never forget the men and women who serve at Christmas and miss home.