By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2013 – Four years ago, retired Marine Corps Capt. Dan Moran accepted the keys to a new house presented by a nonprofit veterans organization, telling then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and hundreds of others gathered for the ceremony that he would express his gratitude through the life he would lead.
“You can rest assured,” Moran told them during an August 2009 ceremony in his new living room in Cypress, Texas, “you made an investment in me and other wounded warriors, and I promise you, you will get a return on your investment.”
The path to Moran’s new threshold had been a rocky one. He received third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body when his platoon was ambushed during his second tour of duty in Ramadi, Iraq. He also suffered a compression fracture to his T-8 vertebrae, herniated discs, a mild traumatic brain injury and an inhalation injury.
He underwent more than 30 surgeries and spent two and a half years recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
Moran had first met Gates when, as president of Texas A&M University, he presented Moran his “Aggie” diploma in 2003. Four years later, then as defense secretary, Gates visited Moran when he was being treated at Brooke. In 2008, Gates and former President George H.W. Bush joined Moran on the field during a Texas A&M football game and awarded him the Navy Commendation Medal with “V” for valor.
In August 2009, Gates presented Moran the keys to a brand-new home in suburban Houston, donated through Helping a Hero. The nonprofit, nonpartisan group funds financial, emotional educational, mentoring, recreational and scholarship support for severely injured military members and their families.
The home was built with special accommodations for Moran’s physical condition. It featured tinted windows, a high-efficiency air conditioner and heating system and other enhanced temperature-control measures, because Moran is no longer able to control his body temperature. The lot was selected to allow the least amount of direct sunlight to enter the home, and the home had an extended covered porch so Moran could spend time outdoors with his family.
“What can I say to people who have given me so much? What can I say? Words don’t do justice,” Moran told the crowd gathered for the presentation ceremony. “So let me tell you right now: It is going to be the way that I live my life. And the way I am going to live my life is by honor, courage and commitment.”
Today, Moran is making good on that commitment in a variety of ways. He’s CEO of Moran Enterprises Inc., a private equity and management consulting firm he founded that promotes veterans employment and veteran causes. He’s been a member of the Texas Veterans Commission since 2011, serving as an advocate for his fellow veterans. He also is a board member for Hope for the Warriors, a national nonprofit organization that helps combat-wounded service members, their families and families of the fallen, and he serves as a spokesman for Helping a Hero.
Moran said the outpouring he received through his own ordeal reaffirmed his faith in the American people and his commitment to serve.
“I was blessed to be the recipient of people’s love and goodwill, and them saying not only ‘Welcome home,’ but ‘Hey, we want to make an investment in you,’” he said during a phone interview from his company headquarters in Houston.
Looking around him, Moran said, he is struck by the generosity and dedication of the American people. It transcends the political fray, bringing them together to support causes larger than themselves, he said.
“The thing that unites all Americans is service,” Moran said. “Regardless of everything else going on in the world, it is something that unites us.”
Moran said he’s proud of the way federal, state and municipal governments, the private sector and nonprofit organizations have come together to demonstrate those core values through their support of wounded warriors and their families.
He said he regularly challenges others, and encourages them to challenge him, by asking, “What have you done today to serve your fellow Americans?” It’s not a slogan, he said, but a core value and a way of life that Americans share.
“There is so much goodness out there, and people want to do right for their fellow Americans,” he said. “I just hope that all the infrastructure that has been put up at this point and all the good that has been done will continue so that men and women who have to go into harm’s way years from now will be able to benefit from that infrastructure.”
Moran said he’s proud to be among the many committed to ensuring the nation will continue to support today’s wounded warriors and veterans and those who will serve in the future.
“I am just one of the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, dedicated to making sure that generations from now, those people are taken care of,” he said.