Learning to live again, Dillon Cannon, a United States Army veteran and now a student at Texas State Technical College, just had the experience of a lifetime.
The Cyber Security Technology student recently attended the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. The invitation came from Helping Heroes, an organization that provides military and veteran support programs and donated a house to Cannon several years ago.
The Sugar Land native had the opportunity to sit nearly 30 feet from the podium where the newly elected president took his oath.
“This experience left me speechless,” said Cannon. “There is so much history in Washington, D.C., and to be a part of it was amazing. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. There’s no other way to describe it.”
The 30-year-old and the group he was with were scheduled to have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence and attend a military ball, but because of protests they were unable to attend those events.
“I was disappointed that we had to alter our schedule,” he said. “We were really looking forward to it, but in the end I still got to experience Washington, and for that I’m fortunate.”
It was not too long ago that Cannon thought he would never get to experience anything again. His life changed forever in December 2006 during his tour of duty in Iraq. He was serving as a military police officer when a sniper shot him in the neck, shattering a portion of his spinal cord.
“In a split second everything changed,” said Cannon. “You live the first 20 years of your life being able to do everything, and suddenly you’re wheelchair-bound.”
Cannon said he had to relearn how to do simple, everyday things such as writing, driving and cooking.
“Basically, I had to learn how to live again,” he said.
This is Cannon’s second semester at TSTC, making it his first time back in school in 11 years. He said that at this point in his life he is ready to pursue a college education and a new career.
As a Cyber Security Technology student, he gets to explore his love of computers and technology while working toward his goal of finding employment with the FBI or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
“I’ve always loved computers, and I’m hoping to use that skill to stop hackers and reduce identity theft,” Cannon said.
Cannon is also an active volunteer with TSTC’s Veterans Center and other military and veteran organizations in Fort Bend County. He works closely with disabled veterans and children, showing them that they can live a normal life and do whatever they set their minds to.
“I see Dillon achieving anything that he focuses on in his future. He always has an infectious attitude whenever he’s around,” said Reginald Dunn, TSTC Veteran Services representative. “Dillon has honorably served our great nation, and it is a pleasure to ensure that we provide a great service to him by way of his educational benefits in return.”
TSTC’s Veterans Center is a centralized resource department that assists veterans and their dependents with admissions, financial aid, GI Bill and Hazlewood benefits and provides support with internal and external referrals.
Cannon said if he has learned anything at all from his experiences it is that life is short and meant to be lived to its fullest.
“We all just have to get through life the best way we can,” he said. “We can’t let anything stop us. We have to go out and do it.”
He said he tries every day to follow his own advice and does everything he can to remain active because he is working toward one big goal.
“Whether on my own or with the help of technology, I will walk again,” he said.
For more on the services offered at TSTC’s Veterans Center, call 346-239-3425.
For more information on TSTC’s Cyber Security Technology, call 346-239-3449 or visit tstc.edu.