Blue and Gold Star Family Partner

Latrese Dixon is the mother of four children and a Gold Star wife. After marrying Staff Sergeant Donnie D. Dixon in 1994 she proudly lived the life of a military spouse. She understands the challenges, solutions, and joys of being a Blue Star family. Since Donnie's death (Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2007) she understands the challenges of a Gold Star wife and family. She always displays courage, resilience, pride, and a compassion that is enabling her children to achieve their life goals.

Latrese received her Associate Degree in Business Administration in 2012 and her Bachelor's Degree in Business Management in 2013. She assists the Dixon Center with program and solution development and research as well as providing volunteer services in her community and schools. Latrese is also the Author/ Publisher of her very own book: "From Tragedy to Triumph: The Life of A Widow". A soft spoken woman, she provides insights and expertise on the practical needs of our military and Gold Star families. Latrese's expertise is the result of living the life of both joy and tragedy, but never giving up.  

Vice President

Colonel (R) Sam Whitehurst is the Vice-President (Programs & Services) of Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services. He is an experienced leader with over 29 years of active duty combat and non-combat experience in the United States Army. He has led Soldiers in combat in both Iraq and Afghanistan and has a deep understanding of the issues impacting our service members, veterans, and their families and the sacrifices they make in service to our country.

Colonel Whitehurst’s last assignment was the director of the Soldier For Life program; he was responsible for developing programs and creating opportunities for the over 100,000+ Soldiers that transition into the workforce or higher education every year.  He understands the value that our service members, veterans and family members bring with them from their military experience and he also understands the challenges in making that transition.  Colonel Whitehurst is the recipient of numerous combat, operational, and support awards. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, a Master of Military Art and Science from the School of Advanced Military Studies, a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies from Louisiana State University, and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the National War College.  


Colonel David W. Sutherland is the co-founder and Chairman of the Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services. He actively contributes to numerous national veteran and military family committees and boards. Sutherland speaks in communities at universities, businesses and conferences around the country as a vocal advocate and leader for transformational change. He is a vocal advocate for our service members, military veterans, their families, and the families of our fallen.

Colonel Sutherland culminated his 29 years of service following Brigade Command, as the Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with principle focus on Warrior and Family Support. By visiting hundreds of communities and assisting thousands of organizations, he created a nationwide network of support utilizing grassroots solutions for veterans and their families. As the Chairman of the Dixon Center, Sutherland brings innovative approaches that harness existing community-based support to deliver profound results for veterans and their families.

Awards and decorations include, among others, the Bronze Star Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman's Badge Second Award and Senior Parachutist Badge. He is also the 2008 Freedom Award recipient presented by the No Greater Sacrifice Foundation, the 2011 Meritorious Service Award recipient presented by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, and the 2013 Commitment to Service award presented by Give An Hour for his work on behalf of returning service members, veterans, military families and families of the fallen.

He holds a Bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University in History and Economics and a Masters in Strategic Studies.

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