Philosophy and Purpose: Moses Maddox on Being a Marine

From our sponsor

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and Marines. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

Moses Maddox has always been a funny guy with a rock solid work ethic. If he's not working with fellow veterans to improve their communities, you can find him in the gym training with his son. The courage, honor, and commitment he developed as a Marine extend to service of his community and his relationship with his family.

When he joined the Marines in 1999 ("I wish I had an inspiring story as to why I joined, but really, I wanted to get out of Texas and the Marines were the only recruiters there that day), it was a job. There was camaraderie and intensity to the work, but "you did your job and you went home at night." But after 9/11, the job was different.

"It was go-time."

Maddox was deployed only a few months after the Twin Towers fell, the 34-year-old now resident of San Diego explained. "Nothing could have prepared anyone for that." But even at a time of uncertainty, Maddox cultivated an appreciation for life, with his thought processes becoming more philosophical while in Iraq. Maddox now spends his free time boxing in the gym with his son between his full-time gig leading fellow veterans in community improvement initiatives with The Mission Continues.

"My worldview changed in a way, that life is completely random," he said. "You only have so much time here. You're here for a little bit of time, so you have to do something with that time."

Maddox was in charge of delivering humanitarian aid to Iraqi families, traveling to smaller, more remote villages and collaborating and communicating with the locals. They were mothers and fathers and children who, "You could tell were just like, ‘Can we get this over with so we can move on with our lives?'"

"I loved interacting with the Iraqi people," said Maddox. "I loved learning their stories. I was so overloaded with empathy. There are always two sides to these things."

But after five and a half years, Maddox left the Marines as a Captain honorably discharged and returned to civilian life. He immediately found a job and enrolled in college for a degree in business facing reality "head on."

The following Christmas, Maddox took his son to the beach, and that was the day he discovered his sense of purpose. "I was watching my son look at all the animals in the water. For him, the world was really big, and it was awesome. I wanted to see the world through his eyes."

Maddox decided he wanted to serve his fellow veterans. He would serve his community and help improve the lives of veterans just like him.

Maddox majored in sociology with a minor in philosophy, crediting his time in the Marines for unlocking that curiosity. These days, Maddox works as a counselor at The Mission Continues, an organization that empowers veterans drawing on their deep sense of purpose and honor by redeploying them into their communities.

The organization is hands on, with veterans literally transforming their communities through honor, commitment, courage, and no shortage of getting one's hands dirty. It encourages veterans to come together to channel their unwavering commitment and leadership skills to serve critical needs in their communities. While serving, veterans acquire new tools to help them succeed, as well as a renewed sense of purpose and passion.

"I've been in the veterans game on all sides now — as a volunteer, as an employee, in the national spotlight. I know what it's like." Because of that, other veterans feel comfortable collaborating and talking with Maddox, discussing topics that they otherwise wouldn't reveal to other people. His commitment to his fellow Marines is one of his greatest assets to the community.

"There really isn't much that someone can say that will shock or offend me," he said. He and the other veterans talk about worldview and role models, hopes and dreams. The work has allowed him to take the values he gained in the Marines and apply them to help others.

"My work really satisfies my appetite for curiosity of talking to people on a daily basis," he said. "I get glimpses of the world through their eyes."

"And we get to laugh," he added. "We laugh a lot.

This feature was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and Marines. Vox Media editorial staff was not involved in the creation or production of this content.

More from United States Marines


Joseph Geeter: Finding Success in Service

The life of Joseph Geeter is nothing short of inspirational. Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Geeter's life took an unexpected turn when his best friend joined the Marine Corps and...


Learning and Overcoming: Joseph Geeter on Being a Marine

It was seeing his best friend come home in uniform that caused Joseph Geeter to get on board with the Marines, "hook line and sinker." That was in 1976. He was 18 years old...


From Marine to Mom: Kate Thomas on Her Journey

"I grew up in a house where the 11th commandment was ‘Thou Shalt Join the Marine Corps,'" Kate Thomas, 35, said while recalling the "social conditioning" in which she grew up. Her father was a M...


"It Was a No-Brainer": Steven Rhodes on Being a Marine

When Steven Rhodes first saw a Marines commercial, he saw leadership, integrity, and a commitment to legacy. On that day in 2008, Rhodes decided to join. While serving, he learned that discipline,...