1- Hello A.J., can you please tell us a bit about you?
Well, I’m a country boy and simple. I Love my wranglers and vnecks and boots. But I also love my Calvin Klein suits. I’m 37, a father, a friend, a boyfriend and a son. I enlisted in the Marines at 18 and went into the private sector after. I’m all about the LA Dodgers and Lakers.
2- What are your focus areas and why
Although I love being a writer and model, my heart lies with the church and with veterans. 22 vets a day commit suicide and that’s 22 too many. Service to others and leaving a legacy my kids will be proud of and can look back after I’m gone and say to themselves, “yep, that was my dad!”.
3- How would you describe your journey in few words
God gives the hardest battles to His strongest warriors. But from what I see is He thinks I’m a superhero.
4- Where do you think your book is making an impact
5- What is the real story behind
choosen “THE WARS WITHIN” as the book’s name ?
This is a hard one for me. Not because of how it makes me feel but where I was mentally and physically. I wrote this book in a prison cell. I was alone for months on end and alone in my cell. I started to think about my life. I was forced to face my past. So I had to face the memories of all my troubles and past abuse I suffered. From cutting to being raped I had to stare it down the barrel and stop it from going off. It could have broken me but I didn’t let it. I got counseling every week and the pastor suggested I start writing since I said I liked to. So I wrote notes and journaled. And then it came to me in a dream so to speak. It was that lightbulb moment or that BIG “epiphany” moment. So, I started writing about everything. But my biggest heartbreaks was the center of the writing. Shanna. So here is my disclaimer, I am happily in a relationship my soulmate and I couldn’t be more lucky to have her. But at the time Shanna was the one that got away. So I built the happy ending she wanted and the total opposite of what I gave her in my world as a so-called, “gangster”. As time went on I added more and more stories of issues I was facing by encountering my past. It was the killing of many birds with one stone so to speak. I finished the book after 9 months in lockdown and I realized how free I felt by talking about the hard stuff no one ever wants to talk about and just hide. So this book is me battling, THE WARS WITHIN.
6- What the word “veteran” really means to you
The word veteran doesn’t mean anything. It stands for everything we are as AMERICANS. It stands for truth and honor. Commitment and sacrifice. It’s the very fabric that we live on and need to keep this amazing country free. I wish people would just realize that life is better without color or race and that we need to fight the evil not each other. We shouldn’t need another tragedy to become patriotic again like after 9-11. Our VETERANS live it 24/7/365.
7- Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Comfortable. a repeat guest on Ellen and the Tonight show. With a ministry for homeless veterans and an at least 1 rehab for veterans.
8- What can you tell young entrepreneurs and talented veterans who are pursuing their dreams
This will be in caps for this one reason. LOVE. If you love you can create, you can conquer, you can do what they say you cant. If you do it for the love and with love, nothing will hold you back in this life or the next one.
9- What are you most excited about at the moment?
2 things, holding it, touching it, smelling my book for the first time. The 2nd is to have just one person come to me and say it helped them. Whether it be from drugs or abuse of any kind or that it made them see that suicide isn’t the answer.
10- The last word or final thoughts?
Last words? NEVER!!!!! Since I have to moment to preach, just kidding. Live your life, be happy, do what you love and find your purpose in life. Without a purpose, we have nothing to love. And without love, we are zip zero nada. Find yourself and follow your path. God will never steer you wrong