Today we are spotlighting Dan Smee, who served in the U.S. Army from 1983-1986 and California National Guard from 2002–2006.
Dan first joined the U.S. Army as a Medical Specialist (Combat Medic) serving until 1986.
Following the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks he enlisted in the California National Guard in 2002. He resumed his position as a medic after recertifying.
He was deployed from 2004-2005 to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), challenging his skills as a combat medic in action and experiencing the many highs and lows that come with war. Dan recalled how tough it was seeing friends die or get severely injured, then turn around to go on a mission only eight hours later. “You gather things up and mentally prepare yourself because the guy next to you is doing the same thing” he shared, “during the war zone tour I saw the best of humanity and the worst.”
Dan’s most notable award was receiving an ARCOM (Army Commendation Medal) for a mission in Iraq where he performed lifesaving duties as a medic. Dan also received a Parachutist Badge (Jump Wings).
Like many veterans, when Dan came home, he struggled with some of the effects of war. Once he found new meaning and purpose in life, he graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and received his master’s degree in social work from USC. Now he help’s other veterans as a social worker at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs, while maintaining his ties to the Central Coast.
Dan is a Wounded Warrior Project Alumni and volunteer. He attended reunions with Army combat buddies, stays in touch through a Facebook group.
Dan’s experiences greatly affected him. He uses his military training and mindset to move forward, and all the ARMY core values and leadership traits to live the best life he can.
“The sacrifices I witnessed on the battlefield inspire me to continue with my life in the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice and didn’t make it home..”
Thank you for you service.