I was born on an Army base in West Germany. My dad was a field artillery officer, and my mom stayed home to raise our family. Service was our life and in my DNA.

I was a junior in high school on September 11, 2001 and the world seemed to stop. I lived in a community where many of my classmates had active-duty parents, and by the end of the day, the deployment orders had begun. I was already on the path towards my own service, but that cemented my decision.

I joined Navy ROTC at Rice University and have called Houston home ever since. I served for five years on active duty, including a deployment to the Persian Gulf. I came back to Houston after having my daughter and developing asthma, my first pre-existing condition, from my deployment.

Back in Houston, I began teaching physics and math. I taught for six years, including at one of the best schools in Houston, Carnegie Vanguard High School, and at Spring Woods High School, a low income campus. I watched as my students struggled in a system that was often underfunded and cared more about multiple choice answers than critical thinking.

In April of 2018 the Navy told me that I was no longer deployable because of too many pre-existing conditions. This was a major shock to my identity. Since I was 17, I had sworn an oath to protect and defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic. Service was integral to my identity and this was a turning point for me.

As I was deciding what to do next, I watched as Republicans in Congress attempted to take away healthcare and pre-existing condition coverage. I also saw many great female veterans run for Congress and thought perhaps that was something I could do, but not so soon. It wasn’t until election night that I knew what came next. I watched as Dan Crenshaw, a far-right Republican, won our district, TX-02, with less than 53% of the vote. I knew then that it was my turn to step up and serve once more.



P.O. Box 667253, Houston, TX 77266


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Elisa Cardnell is a veteran of the United States Navy. Use of her military rank, job, titles, and photographs in uniform does not imply endorsement by the Department of the Navy or the Department of Defense.