By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 11, 2011 – Two years ago, retired Marine Corps Capt. Dan Moran stood before then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and hundreds of other well-wishers as he accepted the keys to a new suburban Houston home presented by the a non-profit organization, Helping a Hero.
Moran’s dress uniform failed to conceal the extent of his combat wounds during the Aug. 31, 2009, ceremony in the living room of his new, 3,300-square-foot home.
An ambush that hit his platoon during his second deployment to Ramadi, Iraq, left Moran with third-degree burns over 50 percent of his body, a comprehension fracture in his T-8 vertebrae, herniated discs, a mild traumatic injury and an inhalation injury. He endured 30 surgeries and more than two-and-a-half years of treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio.
Moran’s house was built to accommodate his needs with tinted windows, a high-efficiency air conditioner and heating system, and other enhanced temperature-control measures because he can no longer control his body temperature. The lot was selected to allow the least amount of direct sunlight into the house, which includes an extended covered porch so he can spend time outside while avoiding direct sun exposure.
Despite all Moran had been through and continues to live with, all that he thought about during the presentation ceremony was the magnitude of the gift he was accepting and questions about how he could ever repay that generosity.
“What do I say to people who have given me so much?” he asked attendees, then made them a pledge.
“You made an investment in me and other wounded warriors, and I promise you, you will get a return on your investment in me,” he told them. “This is how I am going to pay you back: by how I live my life and the impact I will have.”
Moran has wasted no time living up to that promise, committing himself to helping wounded warriors and veterans live meaningful, productive lives.
He launched his own company, Moran Enterprises Inc., to help them find rewarding career opportunities. He became a leader in many of the organizations that helped him during his transition back to civilian life. He’s a board member for Hope for the Warriors, a spokesman for Helping a Hero, and a member of Marine 4 Life and the Marine Corps Association.
Most recently, Texas Gov. Rick Perry appointed Moran as one of five state commissioners on the Texas Veterans Commission. The commissioners provide the strategic vision and policy for the body that informs veterans of their rights and helps ensure they receive the benefits they have earned.
“I gladly accepted, and I see it as a great opportunity to be able to continue serving veterans, to continue serving my countrymen and serving my country,” Moran said.
Moran said he takes pleasure giving back to military members and veterans who have served and sacrificed around the world. “I am just thankful that I am still alive and still breathing and I have the opportunity to impact people the way that I have had people impact my life,” he said.
Despite all that an enemy ambush took away from him on that fateful day in Iraq, he said he takes consolation knowing that he is “still in the fight” with his comrades in arms and other veterans.
“What I personally get out of it, at the end of the day, is knowing that I am still serving a purpose greater than myself,” Moran said. It’s the same feeling he said he felt every day when he wore the uniform, emphasizing that “no rank, no medal, no amount of financial worth could ever take the place of that feeling.”
“I’m just thankful that I have the opportunity to do this,” he said. “To be able to help do for someone else who truly deserves it is what America is all about. I really, really believe that, and I see it on a daily basis.”