Senior Airman, U.S. Air Force
Transplant Services Center, UT Southwestern
At age nineteen while enrolled in college, Drew Timmons received a not wholly unexpected “kind farewell letter” (his words!) from the Dean.Figuring out his next steps, he passed an Air Force recruiter’s office, and thought he’d at least go hear what the recruiter had to say. Drew had already been part of Army ROTC and enjoyed it, so military service seemed like a good prospect.
After doing very well on the military entrance exam, the recruiter told him he could take any path he wished in the Air Force. Half kidding, Drew told the recruiter, “I’d like a job with responsibility, where I can be my own boss, and can travel the world.”
It seemed like a tall order, but the recruiter determined that a role as an aircraft loadmaster on cargo planes would be an ideal fit. After basic training at Lackland AFB, Drew learned how to load cargo planes, making sure the cargo was properly stored, tied down, and distributed.
During his six years with the Air Force, Drew was stationed in Washington state, England, and Charleston, South Carolina; he also traveled to 24 foreign countries. Drew cites these experiences – interactions with people from different walks of life and exposure to various cultures, as the reason he so enjoys helping people. He says, “The travel and interaction with so many people in different nations teaches you that people are people, no matter where you are. I think about that when we send corneal tissue overseas.”
With the discipline he learned from his military service, Drew went back to college and was consistently on the Dean’s list. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Geography, and later went to nursing school for his RN. He penned a beautiful article on how a specific experience in the military led him to nursing.
Spending two years as a bedside nurse, Drew was often the person who helped grieving families after they’d lost a loved one. He would ask them to consider eye and organ donation, and found that it offered the families comfort – the pain of their loss was mitigated by being able to help someone else. Because of his experience with donation, he accepted a job at an organ procurement agency.
In 1999, Drew’s wife felt called to Seminary School in Dallas. While exploring his local employment options, Drew happened to pass by the Transplant Services Center at UT Southwestern. On a whim, he entered the building and dropped his resume off at the front desk. Before he could pull away to head home, he heard a tap on his car window. Donna Drury had looked over his credentials and noticed they had some friends and colleagues in common. She hired him as the Hospital Outreach & Development Coordinator – what was supposed to be a three-year stint has lasted 21 years and continues today.
Drew loves that he is able to participate in all aspects of his eye bank’s functions, and that he “never gets bored.” Working with donor families brings him true joy, and he finds that his military training and discipline is an asset.
Today, Drew still thinks back on his military experience fondly. “Being in the military forces you out of your isolated communities and opens your eyes to the world. You owe it to your country to serve—everyone should commit two years to service, whether it be military, or the Peace Corps, or something similar.”