James Howard is a Distinguished Graduate of the Virginia Military Institute, graduating in 2002 with a degree in Civil Engineering. James served in the Army from 2002-2010 at Ft Bragg with the 82nd Airborne and Special Forces training. During this time, he earned the rank of Captain and served overseas in Iraq. James was severely injured in a service-connected accident that left him paralyzed. As a result, he was medically retired in 2010. James has since dedicated himself to taking care of veterans, disabled children and others in the disabled community. In addition to working as a Family Support Coordinator for the Quality of Life Foundation, James is actively engaged with other non-profit organizations to include the USSOCOM Care Coalition, Veterans and Athletes United, Paralyzed Vets of America, and AMBUCS (Adapted Cycles). James is active in adaptive sports and encourages others to do the same. He is an especially powerful advocate for those service members who are in the transition process to veteran status and provides fantastic advice and guidance.
Sharon began her career in the health care profession as a social worker in the Handicapped Children’s Clinic at the University Of Virginia Hospital. She continued in that field as a supervisor of the Respite Care Program for the City of Virginia Beach. During that time, Sharon grew the program to provide multi-functional services that provided opportunities to disabled persons of all ages. Sharon has a Masters degree in Education from the University of Virginia.
Sharon proudly claims her status of “army brat” growing up around the world. She has lived on military bases up and down the West Coast as well as in Europe and the Far East. Following her retirement from the City of Virginia Beach she contacted the Quality of Life Foundation as she saw it as an extension of her background both professionally and personally. While Sharon enjoys retirement, she is also happy to have the challenging and significant role as a Family Support Coordinator for the Quality of Life Foundation. Sharon’s tenacity, can-do attitude, compassion and problem solving skills make her a tremendous blessing to the families she serves.
Carmen’s career in human services began in 1977 at the Jewish Guild for the Blind in New York, training individuals with multiple disabilities in work skills. She moved to Virginia in 1978 as a military spouse and continued working in the disabilities field at the institution for intellectually disabled individuals in Chesapeake. In 1981 she began working as a Support Services Aide with the City of Virginia Beach Human Services Department in their vocational program for persons with intellectual, mental, and other disabilities. Having found her niche and life’s work passion in the field of vocational habilitation, she became manager of the program and helped it expand from facility-based to fully community-based, competitive pay employment services, helping hundreds of individuals become as self-sufficient as possible and active members of their community.
Carmen recently retired from VBDHS after 35 years of service but, firmly believing that people want and deserve a hand up and not just a hand out, she sought employment with an organization that would allow her the opportunity to continue to help others. Having many family members who have served in the Armed Forces, Carmen has a special regard and respect for military personnel and their families and deeply appreciates the opportunity to contribute to the mission of QoLF.
Angie Pearce was the spouse of an active duty service member for almost seventeen years. During that time, she served as a Family Readiness Leader for the Family Readiness Group in her husband’s unit. Angie is now a full time caregiver for her husband, an Iraq war veteran who is legally blind and also deals with Post-Traumatic Stress and a Traumatic Brain Injury. Angie is also the proud mother of a son and daughter, ages 15 and 16. In addition to her life experiences as the spouse of an active duty service member and caregiver of a wounded veteran, Angie recently earned a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration/ Health Services in March 2013 from Strayer University. Angie states she enjoys working as a Family Support Coordinator because “it gives me a purpose in life and is a small token of appreciation that I can give back to those that helped us.
Shawn was raised in a military family and has a heart for the families who serve alongside their service member. Having an Air Force pilot as a dad meant many moves and new experiences while growing up. When she is not serving as a Family Support Coordinator, she is working behind the scenes here at QoLF to keep operations running smoothly. Shawn genuinely enjoys working in the community to improve the quality of life for the caregiving families of wounded veterans and she derives great satisfaction by helping to give back to those who have given so much in service to our nation.
Andrea Sawyer is a caregiver for her husband, an Iraq war veteran with PTSD and TBI. Andrea left her thirteen year teaching career to become a full-time caregiver and an advocate for other wounded warrior families after she and her husband experienced difficulty finding treatment and services. They decided to work to make changes in the health and support systems to improve services and care for those families and warriors that would come through the system after them. Using her history degree from Meredith College, and her teaching experience, Andrea focused her efforts on educating the public and lawmakers on the struggles faced by caregivers, wounded warriors, and their families. Andrea helped lobby for the passage of the VA Caregiver Support Legislation and has submitted, or presented, testimony to both the Senate and House Veterans Affairs Committees regarding needed improvements to the VA mental health care programs. Andrea’s favorite part of working at the Quality of Life Foundation is being able to use her plethora of resources from her own struggles to help others. She enjoys being able to give help to others as a way of honoring those who helped her family when they most needed it.