Honoring Our Veterans
This year, as we proudly recognize our past, present and future veterans for their service and sacrifices, we have invited Litchfield Cavo attorneys and staff to share their personal experiences as a veteran or veteran’s family member, in their own words.
Charlanae Matthews, Recruiting Specialist
IL | Chicago Office
Charlanae Matthews, a recruiting specialist at Litchfield Cavo LLP and former Navy Petty Officer Third Class, has been in the legal field for more than four years. She credits her father, an Army Veteran, as the initial reason she decided to enlist with the United State Navy. Unfortunately, Lanae lost her father before her first birthday, and says she joined the armed forces as an honorable way to continue his Legacy.
When she turned 18, Lanae enlisted with the U.S. Navy as a Reservist and started in the “delayed entry program”. Doing so enabled Lanae to attend the first semester in college but with the understanding that she would join the Navy eight months later. At that time it would have been her second semester, but instead she would start boot camp at the Great Lakes Naval Station near the Illinois/Wisconsin border.
Lanae recalls her first week in boot camp, appropriately called hell week, living up to its description. As an 18 years old, she was nervous, scared, and started to second guess her decision. She recalled that her first weeks included recruit division commanders screaming orders at her face and being sleep deprived up to 48 hours. In addition to the mental and physical anguish endured at that time, prior to year 2015 recruits could not have “long hair” that went past the shoulders which meant Lanae was expected to cut her hair—a hallmark of her appearance—and she did.
Throughout her Navy career, Lanae was stationed at various Navy Operational Support Centers across the United States, including Chicago, IL, Indianapolis, IN and Columbus, GA. She had completed a total of eight years of service before deciding to hang up her “white Dixie cup” hat.
Lanae had her first child while an active Reservist and admitted that she wasn’t emotionally prepared for being separated from her baby, and that ultimately was the only reason she left the active duty. Though, it was during her time as a Navy Reservist that she joined another Union—the Department of Corrections, her first introduction to the legal field, and later attended and graduated college and started her career in the corporate world.
Lanae says that she often reminisces about her military experience and that she developed many friendships and relationships with people of cultures from all over the world. She admits that she initially joined the United States military as a way to honor her fathers’ legacy, though she now recognizes that she also joined forces to have a stronger sense of belonging to a larger community and be a part of the best team in the United States military.
While reflecting on her past she stated, “My experience in the military has taught me to look at our country in a way that only veterans would understand. I wouldn’t change it for any other experience in the WORLD. Happy Veterans Day!”
Charlanae Matthews (pictured)
Jesse M. King, Attorney
CT | Simsbury Office
I was 16 on September 11, 2001. Like so many others, I headed to my United States Army recruiter office shortly after learning of the attack on our country, and registered for active-duty service to begin immediately following high school graduation. At the time I enlisted I thought I had a new career path—but after two days into basic training, I thought just one tour should suffice.
During active duty with the Army I performed military intelligence and worked as an Arabic Linguist, and my orders included collecting research, formulating arguments, advising of my findings and creating presentations for superiors. I was fortunate to be stationed in Monterey, California for language school and saw much of that area before being deployed to Germany for three years. While stationed in Wiesbaden and Baumholder, I trained for several months in the mountainous town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen.
After a 14-month tour in Iraq, my contract was up and I moved to Tempe, Arizona to study biology at Arizona State University. Although I liked science and my lab work, I wasn’t very passionate about either. After taking another five years and several additional jobs, I ultimately enrolled in law school and have been in zealous advocate of the legal system since.
I find that my work in the military prepared me for several things in my legal career, including confidence in researching complex issues, writing persuasively to advocate for a specific outcome, how to work effectively under pressure, and employing professionalism and decorum in difficult situations such as a contentious courtroom.
Thank you to all of my military peers and others who have, and continue to serve our nation.
Jesse King (pictured)
Sherri Kulik, Legal Secretary
IL | Chicago Office
My nephew, Staff Sargent David P. Nowaczyk, honorably served in the United States Army. David was killed on April 15, 2012, while serving his country on what was to be his third and final mission. While serving in the U.S. Army, David was awarded two bronze stars, one with valor, two army commendation medals, one national defense service medal, and received a purple heart medal that was awarded posthumously. I remain incredibly proud of my nephew David, all the individuals who have chosen to serve our nation, and the families that have sacrificed for our freedoms.
Donna Baker, Director
IL | Chicago Office
I value both my niece’s, LTJG Caitlyn Strader Surface Warfare Officer, and my nephew’s, BU2 Michael Strader, military service and their decisions to make serving in the United States Navy their chosen careers. These two individuals each made a personal choice to stand up and serve our nation. Their actions embody the twin American spirits of freedom and responsibility, and I honor them both for their service to our country and for the privilege of our American citizenship.
Andrew S. Connell, Jr., Partner
FL | Fort Lauderdale Office
My experience as a Marine Corps Reservist and in the Florida Army National Guard was markedly different than that of our nation’s active-duty veterans. The occasional transition from college student to reservist provided me a welcome change of pace, and the Reserve GI Bill is a great incentive with terrific financial benefit for college students. Plus, I had the privilege and unforgettable opportunity to participate in parachute training at Fort Benning, Georgia. At the time, I couldn’t believe that the government was actually willing to pay me to go parachuting! I still consider this one of the highlights of my military experience.
Of course, the military isn’t all fun. Apart from training, my service consisted mostly of one weekend per month and two weeks per year—and that certainly fit in nicely with my then-lifestyle as a college student. Though, there definitely were moments when I questioned my decision to enlist, particularly when being tear-gassed as part of basic training.
In retrospect, I now value my military experience as a learning opportunity as it teaches discipline and fosters one’s ability to persevere, even under adverse conditions. These lessons are often repeated as a practicing litigator handling challenging cases.
Thank you to all of those who served before me, with me and to those who have followed.
Andrew Connell, Jr., Partner (pictured)
Mary Beth Canty, Attorney
IL | Chicago Office
My great grandfather, David E. Mitchell, served in the Red Cross during World War II, and was one of few non-combatants awarded a Purple Heart. My maternal grandfather, David A. Mitchell, served in the United States Army during WWII. My paternal grandfather, Bennie L. Canty, served in the Navy during WWII and in Korea, and was awarded a Purple Heart. Benjamin K. Canty, my father, served in the U.S. Navy for 24 years and was awarded medals for Valor. Each of these individuals were my heroes, and I proudly honor each every-day hero for their service to our country each day.
Gregory S. Keltner, Partner
MO | St. Louis Office
Capt Hillary Keltner, United States Air Force, daughter of Gregory Keltner, a partner in our Litchfield Cavo St. Louis, MO office elected to attend the United States Air Force Academy because she was recruited to play on the women’s volleyball team and also wanted a challenging academic experience.
Upon graduation from the Academy in 2015, Hillary was commissioned as a 2nd Lt and currently holds the rank of Captain. Her initial assignment after graduation was in Space Operations. She is currently a cadet Instructor at the Air Force Academy and also teaches classes in International Management, and Power and Influence in Organizations. Hillary has been assigned to the Academy Business Department upon completion of the MBA program at Auburn University.
When Hillary decided to attend the Academy, Greg and his wife Joan were concerned about how she would respond to the disciplined atmosphere of the Academy and also balance the vigorous academic and military demands of the Academy while participating in the Academy’s Division I volleyball program. As her achievements have been remarkable, Greg, Joan and their other two daughters are very proud of Hillary and her ongoing commitment to the mission of the Air Force.
Kathy Mosher, Legal Secretary
MO | Kansas City Office
My grandfather Eugene Loren served in World War I. He was charged with making certain that President Thomas Woodrow Wilson’s horse was well taken care of and was ready for the President at any given time. My uncle, Earl Loren, was among the brave men who landed on the beaches in Normandy during World War II. My other uncles, James Loren and Clinton Loren served in the Vietnam and Korean Wars. Each of these soldiers are now deceased, and I miss their spirit and legacy terribly.
Eugene Loren (pictured)
Crpl Robert Durovka, United States Marine Corps. husband of Jennifer A. Durovka, Legal Secretary, Milwaukee, WI office