BlueSprig News

Veterans Day: Honoring our Heroes

BlueSprig May 3, 2022

This Veterans Day, the BlueSprig and the BlueSprig family of companies would like take a moment to honor ALL who have served our country. We have many team members across our organization who have served in the military. Each year, we look forward to honoring them today by sharing a small piece of their stories. Joining the military is no small decision, but these brave individuals made the choice to protect our country. We would like to thank our veteran team members for their sacrifices, we are so immensely grateful for your service!

We owe all of them our thanks, but more than that, we owe them our freedom. This Veterans Day, we say thank you to all our servicemen and women, both past and present!

Mary McClure

Mary McClure

Mary was in the military for 13 years starting as active duty in the Air Force and then in the South Dakota Air National Guard and finally in the Air Force Reserve. When she was on active duty, she was a signals intelligence analyst and then also had roles as an admin for the fighter wing and got to coordinate flyovers, and then her most rewarding job was as a chaplain’s assistant while stationed in South Dakota.

She comes from a long line of family members who were in the military and her family has fought in every major American war. Her great grandfather was a doctor in World War I, her grandfather was a bomber pilot in World War II and is buried at Westpoint. Other family members were in the Civil War and Revolutionary War and Mary was on active duty during the Global War on terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. Her great grandfather worked his way through medical school by joining the Ringling Brothers Circus and was a tightrope walker.

Mary’s Work at BlueSprig

Mary works at Florida Autism Center in Lake Mary, FL as an insurance verification specialist. She loves working at her center because it feels like family, just like it did when she was in the military. What she learned from the military that she brought to FAC is to pay attention to detail and to be patient with people and most importantly, to just listen because you never know what’s going on in somebody else’s life.

Brooke Merritt

Brooke Merritt

Brooke served in the Air Force for 4 years from 2004 – 2008 during the Global War on Terror. Originally from southern California, Brooke initially joined the Air Force to explore new states, meet new people, and to help her pay for college. While she was stationed in several places, her two main duty stations were San Antonio, Texas, and Fort Gordon, Georgia. During her service, Brooke was part of the military intelligence community and had top-secret clearance. She was a signals analyst and went to school to learn Morse code. She loved that in her role she was able to work with all the branches together in the military intelligence community. After leaving the Air Force, Brooke went on to get her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in special education and was a special education teacher for the last three years.

Brooke’s Work at BlueSprig

Today, she is an RBT at Fusion Autism Center in Georgia where she really enjoys seeing a whole different world outside of the special education classroom and working one-on-one with the kids to see them progress. The military prepared her for her RBT role where she learned the importance of being flexible and working with different people.

Anissa Smallwood

AAnissa Smallwoodnissa served in the US Army for three and a half years from 2015-2018. Stationed in Fort Hood, TX, Anissa’s main role was a cook where she would cook for anywhere from a 100 to 1000 soldiers at a time including going out into the field. Anissa was the first one in her family to join the military and while she said the job was tough at times due to the long hours, she loved getting to know everyone and feeling part of a big family.

Anissa’s Work at BlueSprig

Today, Anissa is an RBT at the BlueSprig location in Round Rock, Texas, and loves working with the kids. She has become really attached to some of her patients and loves watching them make progress each session. The military prepared Anissa for this role by teaching her patience. Today, she applies the mentality of always looking for new and different ways to do things.

Cheryl Maddox

Cheryl MaddoxCheryl served in the US Army for 21 years from 1991-2012. Initially joining the Army to go to school and at the urging of a friend, she found that she loved her time in the military and misses it today. During her time, her roles consisted of being an administrative assistant, working in human resources, being a mail clerk, and then finishing her career as an equal opportunity advisor. Cheryl served during two missions including Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom and was stationed all over the place from Germany to Turkey, a tour in Iraq for a year, 15 months in Afghanistan, and stateside in Georgia, Kansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, and California. However, her favorite place was Turkey, where she soaked up the culture and even studied Turkish for a year at the Defense Language Institute.

One of Cheryl’s most memorable experiences, while she was in the military, was being stationed at the Pentagon during the 9/11 attack. She worked for the Chief of Staff of the Army and happened to be off that day. While she watched everything unfold that morning, all she could think about was her friends at work that day and trying to reach her mother while the phone lines were not functional until much later that evening.

Cheryl’s Work at BlueSprig

Today, Cheryl is an administrative assistant at Florida Autism Center in Jacksonville, Florida. She absolutely loves meeting the families and seeing the progress their children are making as she greets them each day. She watches how families come in and are able to communicate better with their children and knows the team members at BlueSprig are making a huge difference in these kids’ lives.

Timothy Ferrell

Timothy Ferrell

Timothy served in the US Air Force for six years from 1985 -1991. He was stationed on Clark airbase in the Philippines and Incirlik airbase in Turkey and served in the Gulf War. His time in Turkey was among his favorite times in the military and he loved everything about the culture, the food, the architecture, and the people.

His time there impacted him so much that after he left the military, he worked for USAID, and the UN, and ended up working for several years there doing earthquake relief work after a massive earthquake hit Turkey in 1999 and 1000s lost their lives. Timothy was an accountant but his main role while he served was an ordinance loadmaster loading ordinance on aircraft. During the Gulf War, Timothy was part of a Special Forces Unit in Iraq. He has a special place in his heart for the important work he did with this group and honors the members of his family and friends in the Special Forces who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He comes from a military family. His father was an Army Vet and his father-in-law at the time was active-duty Air Force and then later retired and he had several cousins who were in the Air Force and Army. While stationed in the Philippines, Timothy was able to finish college and obtain his degree in accounting. The military allowed him to travel the world with his family and allowed his kids who were 8, 10, and 14 when he left the military the time to experience many different cultures.

Timothy’s Work at BlueSprig

Today, Timothy lives on a farm in Oklahoma and works on the development team at the corporate office of BlueSprig. He is a construction project manager and oversees the building of all new centers around the country. His work at BlueSprig means so much to him because he has a grandson with autism, and he has been active in autism advocacy in Oklahoma, which introduced him to BlueSprig.

He loves being a part of something bigger than himself and is humbled and inspired by how the work at BlueSprig is making a true difference. He still vividly remembers the very first client he encountered. She was very young and completely non-verbal and made no eye contact. Three years later he was visiting that center again and the little girl happened to be there and had made huge progress. She ran and up to him calling his name, “Mr. Tim! Mr. Tim!” He says it is such a precious memory he has and is the whole purpose they are there, to change the world for children with autism.

Sandra Marrero

Sandra Marrero

Sandra was in the Air Force for four years from 2012-2016. She served during the Global War on Terrorism and was stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Knob Noster, Missouri, and Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia. Sandra comes from a military family and knew she wanted to join as well. Her role during her four years was as a Public Affairs Specialist, journalist, and photographer and she vividly remembers getting to meet one of our former US presidents who had a conversation with her in Spanish which meant a lot to her being from Puerto Rico.

Sandra’s Work at BlueSprig

Today, Sandra works at Fusion Autism Center in Dunwoody, Georgia where she is working directly with the children as an RBT. She says she loves the team’s commitment to working ethically with the children and giving them the best of what we have to offer. Prior to joining BlueSprig, she worked at Child Protective Services because she had a keen interest in helping the kids but decided to move into a role where she could work directly with the kids and see their progress each day.

Her most memorable experience so far was working with a child who she honestly didn’t think she was making much progress with but continued to work with them each session. She said one day, something clicked, and the child started clapping their hands and smiling. It was at that moment that she realized her hard work was paying off. One of the mottos in the Air Force’s is service before self, so like with this child, she believes in putting the kids first. She also brings with her all the communication skills from her role in the Air Force and uses that regularly to find new and different ways to communicate with her patients.

Renae Williams

Renae Williams -

Renae was in the US Army for over 20 years and served during the Iraq and Afghanistan war. Stationed in Germany, Kentucky, and Augusta, her primary role was a culinary specialist. She also spent time stationed in Florida, California, and Nevada where she was a recruiter. During her first 10 years as a culinary specialist, Renae worked as a shift leader and food operations sergeant. Then, in her time as a recruiter, she worked in talent acquisition and was also the area talent acquisition manager and regional trainer. Some of her fondest memories while serving were in Germany where she was able to see the country, learn the history, visit the castles and see snow for the first time at 18 years old.

Renae’s Work at BlueSprig

Today, Renae is an RBT Florida Autism Center Atlantic Beach in Jacksonville, FL. She loves the support she receives from her supervisor and peers and is happy to be a part of this organization. Her time in the military has prepared her to work as a team with individuals of various backgrounds and to come together to accomplish a shared mission. By working together, Renae believes they are living our mission of changing the world for children with autism. Every day she is grateful to see the progress the children are making. Whether it is saying their first word or sound, accomplishing a task that was difficult for them, or being able to answer an intraverbal or fill-in-the-blank statement without prompting or cues is memorable for her. It’s the big and small achievement that brings Renae joy each and every day.

Kristal Ross

Kristal Ross

Kristal served in the Navy for seven years and knew since she was a kid that she wanted to join the military to travel the world and serve her country. During 2005-2012, Kristal was stationed in NAS Virginia Beach and NAF El Centro. She had many roles during her time including serving as an Aircrew Survival Equipmentmen (AKA a Parachute Rigger), as well as working on all survival equipment for FA/18 pilots. Her most memorable time on deployment was when she volunteered for a community relations project where she got to paint a school in Valparaiso, Chile, and spent the whole day hanging out with the kids, painting their school, and playing games with them. She recalls it being an amazing experience.

Kristal’s Work at BlueSprig

Today, Kristal works at the BlueSprig location in Chisholm Trail, Texas as an RBT. She truly loves getting to make a difference in kid’s lives and credits the military for teaching her that some days are tough and frustrating, but at the end of the day, even on rough days she is doing great things, and for her work at BlueSprig, that means doing great things for these kids. She remembers teaching one of her kids how to ride a bike and when they showed the mom the child’s newest accomplishment, the mom cried and was so happy to watch her child. Kristal credits moments like this for bringing her to work each day.

Sean Noranbrock

Sean Noranbrock

Sean served in the US Army for over 20 years 1999 –2019] During his time, he was stationed in Fort Lenard Wood, Missouri, Fort Hood, Texas, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Pusan, South Korea, Camp Humphreys, South Korea, Wiesbaden, Germany and retired back at Fort Hood, Texas. He served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn in Iraq. Sean knew he wanted to join the military to become part of something bigger than himself and to stand with his fellow brothers and sisters in support of our freedom and to protect the construct of this country.

During his 20 years of service, Sean started as a military policeman and then became a Military Working Dog handler. He transitioned into company operations and then higher headquarter battalion operations. Later, he led operations for United States Army Garrison Wiesbaden Directorate of Emergency Services. He finally prepared for his retirement at Fort Hood, TX as a law enforcement operations Sergeant.

Sean’s Work at BlueSprig

Today, Sean is an operations manager at the BlueSprig location in Waco, Texas. He enjoys networking, marketing, and facilitating the implementation of ABA therapy to the children in the community. He loves working with a team like him, who are all focused on the same mission. Sean can still remember the first child he saw come to BlueSprig, a truly rewarding experience for him. Through his military background, he brings important skills such as his values, compassion, and dedication to his role at BlueSprig and looks forward to pushing the mission forward each day.

Steve Bender

After graduating high school in 1988, Steve says he “was having too much fun to take college seriously and was headed down a not-so-recommended path.” He decided that he needed a change of environment. So he joined the Marine Corps. Just before going to boot camp, the Navy offered him a signing bonus and automatic rank advancement after boot camp as long as he volunteered to join the Submarine Service as a Navigation Electronics Technician.

Steve spent his first 5 years at the Submarine Base in Groton, CT where he attended Basic Enlisted Submarine School. Then, he was assigned to the USS Dallas (SSN-700) Fast Attack Submarine. (That’s the same boat used in the movie Hunt For Red October.) He then spent 3 years in Norfolk, VA on the ship USS L.Y. Spear (AS-36) which was a supply and repair support ship for a submarine squadron.

Steve finished his 9 year career back in Groton, CT working as a Gas Free Engineer and Marine Chemist. He was trained and certified by OSHA to perform duties for the Submarine Base and the State of Connecticut. He dove into tanks and voids to certify them safe for personnel and was also certified as an Asbestos Lab Testing Expert. Also, he tested various materials for the Navy and the State for asbestos. In 1997, Steve’s mother passed away due to an accident with a drunk driver in Denver and he decided to end his service early to be with family. He was Honorably Discharged in 1998.

Steve’s Work at BlueSprig

Since then, Trumpet is the 10th company that he has worked for and by far the best! He found his job by complete coincidence and have absolutely enjoyed the more than 2 years at Trumpet!

Quentin Baker

Quentin joined the Marines after graduating high school to seek a challenging yet rewarding opportunity for himself. He wanted to serve a higher purpose and become a part of a tight-knit family. He says, “I was very fortunate to travel and experience many different cultures that helped develop me into who I am today!”







Looking for a career in ABA Therapy or supporting children with autism? Check out our open career positions at BlueSprig today!