My Story: About Don Quinn, Veteran & Lawyer
Everybody has a story worth telling. This is mine –
As young as 9 years old, I knew that I wanted to do two things. First, I wanted to join the military, and second, I wanted to become a lawyer. It would have been a remarkable journey for an American kid growing up in Ahmedabad, India, to reach one of those goals. After 41 years, I finally have both under my belt.
9/11 Change Everything
I had my eyes set on college after moving home to the U.S., but my world was turned upside down in 2001 – the day the Twin Towers fell. Watching the airplanes crash into them, watching lives destroyed, and seeing Americans under attack changed the trajectory of my life. A few weeks later, I found myself in an army recruiter’s office enlisting as an E-1. It was always my intention to join the military though I had presumed it would be after college. When fate intervened, there was nothing to do but signup, sans the college degree, and go where the army sent me. In 2003, at the height of the war with Iraq, the army decided to send me to Kuwait. To Camp Ash Shuaiba to be more precise.
Ash Shuaiba, for those who have never been, is a Kuwaiti port that we used from the ’90s despite the environmental hazard concerns. However, in 2003, our command appeared to care more about unloading ships and sending hardware downrange than they did about soldiers breathing in toxic fumes 24-hours a day. The billowing smoke and raging fires from the industries surrounding our little camp made for interesting viewing and caused permanent damage to my lungs.
In 2006, I was diagnosed with asthma stemming from my year in the sandbox. I was rated at 30% disabled and spent the next ten years trying to ignore the reality that my lung function would never allow me to do many of the things I had loved to do before and during my time in the military. In 2009, I was honorably discharged, but it wasn’t until 2016 that I began to really feel the full effects of the damage to my lungs.
I went back to college using the G.I. Bill and graduated from Washington State University in 2016 before preparing to take the LSAT that October. By this time, my wife and I ran our own business (an online marketing and content management firm, Indelible Ink). I was recovering from a razor thin loss for a seat in the Maryland Senate. One night, after a long day of studying, I knelt down at my bed to pray – stopped breathing for longer than I care to admit and passed out. Bethany struggled to rouse me and deliver medication so that I could start breathing again. That was the start of a protracted battle with the Department of Veterans Affairs. All I wanted was for them to rate my asthma per their own regulations – 100% for the Corticosteroids that have prevented my lungs from shutting down again.
With multiple trips to the emergency room to distract me and the frequent help of a nebulizer, I took the LSAT that October. I scored high enough to get offers to multiple law schools. I chose to go to the University of Missouri, where I met (among others) Angela Drake. Professor Drake ran the veteran’s clinic at MIZZOU, helping veterans like me file appeals. I became her student, then her client, then forever in her debt for helping me and my family get what had promised to me. I then decided that I would take up the mantle alongside Angela and make Veterans Law an indelible part of my future practice.
In 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I graduated with honors (Order of the Barrister) from the University. We moved back to Maryland, where I took and aced the District of Columbia Bar and finally - became the man that a 9-year-old boy had once dreamed of being.
Today, as a veteran, an attorney, and a business owner my goal is to help others achieve their dreams by coming alongside them and providing the legal help they need to take the next step. I’ve walked a lot of miles in a lot of shoes and my passion is using all of that experience to improve the lives of my clients.
I am Don Quinn and I invite you to contact me if you need legal help. Call 443-675-1005 for a consultation.