Our Interview with John Quinn: Veteran of the United States Navy

John Quinn's path to self actualization is magnificent. He is a decorated U.S. Veteran, who served as the Administrative Leading Chief on the USS John C. Stennis and the Assistant Ship Secretary on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. John served for 20 years in the U.S. Navy. He is now a retired Senior Chief Petty Officer, advocate, motivational speaker, and author of Someone Like Me: An Unlikely Story of Challenge and Triumph Over Cerebral Palsy.

At the age of four, John started to walk. Abruptly, after this amazing childhood milestone, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy by a medical professional. Cerebral Palsy affected his gait, balance, reflex, posture, vision, and he was born with two different sized feet. John was part of a large family, as he was one of eight children. His parents decided early on that John would be treated the same way as the rest of their children. This parenting approach, a push for determination to overcome daily obstacles, required John to understand the importance of independence at a young age. 

John reached a point of paramount significance. He enlisted in the Navy and never disclosed that he had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy. John did not want to be treated differently; he wanted to be recognized for his hard-work and perseverance. Over the course of 20 years, John kept his disability a secret; he received multiple military decorations including four Navy Commendation Medals, Joint Service Achievement Medal, and four Navy Achievement Medals. John is also authorized to wear the Enlisted Surface Warfare breast insignia.

In the interview with our Different & Able President and Founder, Alexandra Nicklas, John shares his triumphant coming of age story. From the challenges John faced as a young child to his struggles in adult life, he is a  role model who epitomizes perseverance and dedication. John’s hope for a fully inclusive society is achievable, as he has stated, “Together we can do great things.” 


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