Dekeither Stamps - Graduate
Learned, Miss., Dekeither Stamps’s hometown, has a population of 51. Growing up in a place where cows outnumber people and working on a small farm had a lasting effect on Stamps. Those formative years provided the work ethic and hunger for adventure that still shape the way Stamps sees the world.
Beginning when he turned 15, Stamps had tried to enlist in the Marines to fulfill his dream of venturing beyond Learned and becoming an honor guard on the President’s helicopter Marine One. He would have to wait until he was 18, because his father refused to sign his enlistment papers.
When, shortly after basic training, a senior officer asked Stamps’s unit if any of them were interested in doing presidential security, Stamps seized the chance. “I said you are here for me.” Fate had called, and Stamps was assigned to Marine One from 1996 to 1999.
As part of President Bill Clinton’s security detail, Stamps travelled to 18 countries. In the months before the 1996 election alone, Stamps travelled with the president to 90 cities in 30 days. “When you get to do something you’ve been dreaming about, you’re in the moment,” Stamps says of that time in his life.
After several years of embassy security work in Africa and Europe, Stamps served as a military police patrol supervisor at Miramar Naval Base in San Diego before deciding to leave the Marines in 2002. However, in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Stamps felt the call to duty again. Rather than re-enlist with the Marines – a one-year process for Stamps – he signed up with the Army’s 82nd Airborne. Within weeks, he was deployed to Iraq where he would serve as the patrol leader of a 17-soldier, 4-vehicle patrol.
Back stateside in 2007, Stamps nursed a shoulder injury suffered in an Iraq explosion, various wear and tear of years in the military, and heavy stress brought on by deteriorating marriage. He suffered two heart attacks within a year. By 2009, his military career was over, his wife had left him, and he had no job. Out of this wreckage, Stamps found his way forward.
Because Stamps was successful in approaching veteran’s benefits with his typical intensity and integrity, friends would seek out his advice on related matters. Helping other veterans find their way through the red tape quickly became a passion for Stamps. When he heard about the Wounded Warrior Program, it seemed like a natural progression.
In December 2011, Dekeither Stamps terminated his fellowship to continue his education full time.