Quawnishia Morgan, 41, knew from an early age while growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, that she was destined for the military. Today, as a veteran, she also has definite ideas about Veterans Day and what it means — and what it should mean.
"I come from a family with a lot of children in the house," she told Fox News Digital by phone.
"My parents were foster parents — so it was pretty obvious there wasn't an abundance of money to go around to fund college education and things like that."
A talented singer, she also knew the music industry was a tough one to break into and a very unsteady career path at that.
In high school, she joined Navy ROTC, a move that "really finalized my passion for what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go in life," she said.
"I joined the military for two reasons. One reason was to get away from home, first and foremost," she said.
"The second reason was basically to solidify a future for myself," she said. "Although I felt I was good enough to be a singer, that wasn't a sure plan."
Morgan served in the Navy as an aviation storekeeper. When she first joined, she did not even know there was an aviation division.
"I knew I wanted to go in the Navy — but I didn't necessarily know what I wanted to do because I don't come from a family with heavy military influence," Morgan said.
Now living in Virginia, Morgan said she initially wanted to join the Air Force, yet ran into roadblocks when she learned she'd have to take additional exams. "I was just so eager to get out there and be on my own and be independent," she said.
When the recruiter told her the Navy had an aviation side, she knew that's what she wanted to do.
At the time, the Navy allowed recruits to determine the role they were suited for best.
Morgan first tried to be an air framer — "someone who works on the outside of an aircraft." That didn't work out; Morgan now says she "could never imagine" doing that role.
Her next job was a much better fit.
"I landed in supply, which then were called ‘aviation storekeepers,'" she said. Aviation storekeepers are "in charge of all of the supplies and equipment, as well as ordering military uniforms, aircraft parts and things like that, even down to pens and pencils."
"So you were pretty much the supply house for the entire unit," she explained.
While in the Navy, she met the man who would become her husband. After four years, she left active duty but quickly felt an "emptiness."
Morgan re-enlisted in the Navy Reserve and served an additional three years.
Civilian life proved challenging for Morgan. She worked "jobs that I was less passionate about" compared to her military service, she said.
Eventually, she landed at ADS, a company that supplies military gear and tactical equipment to the U.S. military. She said that working in a military-adjacent role has brought back "a sense of connection and pride [in] the military and back to my sisters and brothers [who] wore the same uniform that I wore."
"And that's what ultimately allowed me to separate from the military, because I stopped chasing it in uniform services, and I was actually content and happy with my place at ADS," she said.
"I still, even now, am in the supply industry and in the supply sector — and I still have military members relying on me to get their gear to them."
"That's all I ever wanted, to still really serve and be a part of that process for people who wear the uniform. So it's very, very rewarding for me."
Now, as a veteran, Morgan said that Veterans Day is "super, super important" and she wishes society had a broader view about what a "veteran" actually is.
"I think oftentimes when people think about Veterans Day, they only think about the members [who] fought wars, or they only think about the retirees," Morgan said.
"But for me, Veterans Day is for anyone who chose to wear the uniform and served their enlistment. And whether they left [the service] or retired — as long as they served under honorary conditions, to me, that's a veteran."
She said that even today, people will see her car with its veteran tags and assume it belongs to someone else.
"People in society just have these mixed feelings of what a veteran is supposed to look like," said Morgan. "But it's truly anybody who served their country under honorable conditions."
To better support veterans, both on Veterans Day and the other days of the year, Morgan believes "people could stand to be a little more open."
"I think sometimes people just need to stop and listen and be more observant. And they can learn a lot," she said.
"Because you can meet someone, and they may have only served four years — or they maybe they've served 26, like my husband. That doesn't mean their job means anything less."
"People in society just have to be more open to anyone who chose to serve their country because it's a very brave thing to do — and not a lot of people are built for it."