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Four combat deployments, including Afghanistan and Iraq, since 2000. Infantry company commander for two tours. Former commanding officer of the North Carolina Recruiting Station. Today, Brother (and Major) Brandon Gorman ’00 is studying at the Naval War College in Rhode Island. This story, in itself, is impressive — one of dedication, service and discipline. However, as Brandon explains, the real story is the one love, sacrifice and perseverance as his wife, Liz, continues to lobby for effective treatment for their daughter, Maddie, who was diagnosed with MLL Leukemia and epilepsy, as well as other families. Here is their story as told by Brandon:

I am currently serving as a U.S. Marine infantry officer on active duty since 2000 participating in five overseas deployments, with four combat deployments, including Afghanistan and Iraq, with Marine infantry units from 2003 to 2010. I have served additional tours in Haiti and throughout Europe, Africa and the Middle East. I have served as a machine gunner in combined anti-armor team, a platoon commander and executive officer in a light armored recon battalion, company commander at the School of Infantry, graduate of Expeditionary Warfare School, infantry company commander with a Marine Infantry Battalion for two tours, and served as the NC USMC Recruiting Station commanding officer. I am currently studying at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

Photo caption: S. Helmand Province, Afghanistan, 2009-2010 (center, both photos)

I am married to a truly special and beautiful wife (and high school sweetheart), Liz Gorman (UNC Class of 2001, Pi Beta Phi); we have one awesome daughter, Madeline, age 8. The Marine story may sound exciting, but here is a truly inspiring story…

Photo captions: (left) Maddie, July 2015; (right) a family hiking trip in Colorado

In 2007, our daughter, “Maddie,” then 11 months old, was diagnosed with MLL Leukemia and was treated with chemotherapy for almost two years. We were forced to cut her chemotherapy treatment short due to the onset of seizures and epilepsy. The fight turned from the big “C” to the big “E,” evolving from Infantile Spasms to Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (types of epilepsy).

After six years of failed pharmaceutical medications and a corpus colostomy (brain surgery), the seizures were still there — 20 to 30 large (with hundreds of smaller) tonic and myoclonic seizures throughout each day. In December 2013, we decided to make a bold move. Liz and Maddie moved to Colorado to try Cannabidiol or CBD. At the time, very little press was in mainstream media. CBD, a non-THC component of hemp or the marijuana plant, was what we were hoping might help. It was a leap of faith and forced our separation again due to requirements of military service. CBD quickly showed to be promising — we took it. You can see the story and details in this Good Housekeeping article (great read!) detailing the experience and following Liz and Maddie’s journey. Check out Maddie’s blog(please check Liz’s August update).

The move, and Maddie’s positive progress, opened a door for Liz to get involved helping other families trying to get support in Colorado, and across the country, and working to make progress in North Carolina to change the laws that prevented families with children (and anyone that presents with intractable epilepsy) from using CBD. She has been involved for over two years with key lawmakers in North Carolina, helping craft and write the bills and educate lawmakers and their constituents on the benefits of CBD in fighting epilepsy and other serious diseases and medical conditions. Her tireless work ethic helped pass laws in 2014 and finally a usable law in 2015. Working with North Carolina Senator Tommy Tucker and North Carolina Rep. Pat McElraft, she was instrumental in getting the new law passed (almost unanimously) in July of 2015 — a huge success after being told a year ago it couldn’t be passed in a state like North Carolina. Liz currently volunteers, helping families and a non-profit company (Realm of Caring) that is helping children and others in need of help when pharmaceuticals fail them. Additionally, Liz is working to get federal legislation passed in order to help epilepsy patients throughout the U.S. and working with companies (CW Botanicals) on the forefront of Cannabidiol research as related to epilepsy. Below you can see some of the articles and info on her accomplishments and what we have been up to:

Medical Cannabis Seizure Treatment

A Strain of Medical Marijuana Now Legal In North Carolina

Photo captions: (left) Liz and Maddie in the Colorado State Capitol Building (right) Liz speaking outside the U.S. Capitol Building

In June, 2015, I was fortunate enough to be invited back by UNC to conduct our Change of Command Ceremony, officially turning over the USMC Recruiting Station Raleigh (NC) in the Kenan Stadium Blue Zone to the incoming commanding officer, Major Rich Neikirk. (Special thanks to UNC and James Spurling, Director of Kenan Stadium Football Center).


Aside from the all the other stuff, Liz and I enjoy as much hiking (Liz recently summited the 14,000-foot Pike’s Peak), climbing, skiing, surfing, marathons and triathlons as we can get into. It’s tough on the schedule, but we are lucky to sneak away with Maddie on mom’s back every now and then. Best to all, Semper Fi!

Brothers can connect with Brandon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Photo captions: (left) Raleigh Ironman Triathlon 2015 with MSgt. Mike Coursen (right) Liz hiking with Maddie in Colorado