Thanks in large part to 14 years in the United States Marine Corps, I have had the opportunity to see more than 100 foreign countries and earn a Bachelor's degree, two Masters and a Doctorate. None of those directly involved Wake Forest, which I attended for three semesters before volunteering for the military.
So why have I included Wake Forest in my estate plans? For one thing, it is the only real campus community I have ever known and the only college I chose to attend; I undertook my other studies remotely through affiliations brokered by the military.
But there's something else. As a gay man whose military service ended when I honestly told authorities of my sexuality, I am heartened by Wake Forest's commitment to serve the LGBTQ community. This is manifested by programming, staffing and even an emergency financial aid fund that assists students whose families have shunned them.
I am also motivated by my military experience. I survived two plane crashes, one of which led to my capture and a six-month stay as a guest of North African rebels. Any prisoner of war - and any combat veteran, for that matter - will ask, "Why did I live? Why did I get to come back when so many others did not"?
I believe I'm still here so that I can help those in need. I serve on the boards of five volunteer organizations and have started my own non-profit, Helping Our Brothers and Sisters, because I feel an obligation.
And I am proud to add Wake Forest to my estate plans. Although my stay as a student was short, it was impactful, and I am pleased to see how the University has welcomed the LGBTQ community on campus.