I was worried that having Tourette would keep me out of the Air Force. Since the third grade, I remember having twitches … weird movements or sounds that I would “had to” make. These symptoms had gotten worse through grade school, but as I went into high school and college they did get better, even though they were still there every day. But before I could be commissioned as an officer, I had to get medically cleared by a neurologist. Finally, I saw the doctor, and he gave me the final thumbs up! I finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering the next summer, and was sworn in as a Second Lieutenant on Friday, August 13, 1999.

Throughout my Air Force career, there were times where I was worried military medical bureaucracy would prevent me from doing the things I wanted to do. I was determined that I would not take no for an answer, and pushed hard to show that I could do the job … I graduated top of my class from Explosive Ordnance Disposal school, and commanded an EOD flight (EOD is the military equivalent of a bomb squad). I deployed four times, receiving several decorations including the Bronze Star. I commanded a Squadron at the Air Force Survival School. I am now the Deputy Commander of a Mission Support Group… an organization of 2,700 personnel providing engineering, security, logistics, communications, personnel and administrative support for an overseas air base.

One of the most amazing experiences of my career came when I was an instructor at the Air Force Civil Engineer School. In my introduction to a class of new Civil Engineer Officers, I told the students that I had Tourette, explained the condition and told them about the tics they might see from me. During a break, one of the students came up and asked if I really had Tourette. I said that I did, and he confided that he did as well. He has done very well for himself in the years since … I am sure he is just as determined as I am to prove what he can do!

– Kel