A U.S. Army veteran who sustained a career-ending back and foot injury found a new calling being an advocate for other vets.
Maureen Elias says her family didn’t see her military service lasting long.
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“I’ve never been someone that takes orders well,” she said. “I think when I joined the military my family was like, Yeah, I give you a week maybe.”
She served for five years, working in counterintelligence, rooting out threats to national security.
“I felt kind of selfish almost, being in the military, because I enjoyed what I did so much,” she said.
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Often times she was the only woman in the room.
“I went from thinking I was dumb and kind of weak to being this strong, empowered woman,” Elias said.
An injury during training forced Elias to leave her dream job early, but that spirit of service remained.
She went back to school, getting her master’s degree in counseling at Bowie State University.
“My friends reached out, and they were like, Well, why would you choose an HBCU? And I was like, Why wouldn’t I? This sounds awesome,” she said.
At Bowie State, Elias realized she wanted to make a difference serving those who served the country. Now she’s in charge of legislation at Paralyzed Veterans of America and advocating on their behalf.
“Having a job where every day I get to serve the brothers and sisters that I served in the military with is just very inherently fulfilling,” she said.
Elias’ husband is still in the Army. She was once honored as Fort Meade Base Spouse of the Year.