Growing up in Sherman, Texas, my grandfather MSgt Samuel Allenbaugh was a paragon of selfless service and my personal hero. When I wanted to join the Air Force out of high school to be like him, he was the only one who could talk me out of it. My grandfather didn’t go to college until after enlisting into the Army Air Corps in 1945 and retiring in the Air Force twenty-six years later. “Go to college first. The Air Force will still be around if you want to join.”
After college, my wife and I moved to San Antonio for Teach For America (TFA). I will never forget what we were told by Laura Saldivar Luna, our regional Executive Director (and now national Chief People Officer). “This is not a two-year commitment.” I loved that. Like my grandfather, she understood the call to lifelong service. After my TFA commitment, I enlisted in the Air Force Reserve as an intelligence analyst. Shortly after, with the invaluable help of Theodore Rostow, a friend from TFA attending Yale Law School, I applied to attend, and was accepted at, The University of Texas School of Law.
In law school, I became fast friends with Miguel Ortiz (pictured below), a rockstar Air Force paralegal. Together we recognized a need for an organization dedicated to military students and founded the Texas Law Veterans Association (TLVA). In addition to partnering with the Austin Bar Association’s Veterans Legal Advice Clinic, TLVA members became Law Ambassadors with Service2School. If a scary kid from Sherman can end up at “the best law school for a thousand miles in every direction” with guidance during the mysterious-and-complicated application process, I recognized my duty to pay it forward. This is not a two-year commitment.
After law school, I got connected with the Teach For America Military Veterans and Spouses Initiative (MilVet). At a national MilVet conference, we networked, got organized, and were given a copy of David Goggins’s book “Can’t Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds.” Inspired by Goggins’s astonishing life story and wanting to emulate his tackling insane, ambitious goals while raising money for a good cause, I had a lightbulb moment. Everyone is focused on who is running in 2020—what if I ran, too? I can’t run for political office, much less talk about the issues publicly, because of ethics rules governing the federal judiciary. Nevertheless, I can still run in 2020. I can continue to serve by running 2,020 miles—more than I have run since 2014, by a lot—while raising money for Service2School.