Hindsight is 20/20—Airman looks back with wisdom on his harrowing experience

Adam Klein-Veteran

By Adam Klein

After graduating from Gloucester County College with an associate’s degree in criminal justice in 2005, I was unsure where I wanted to go from there. I decided I would enlist in the U.S. Airforce. I went to a recruiter and was told that I weighed too much, 214 pounds, and I would need to get down to at least 186 pounds before I would be eligible for enlistment.

I told the recruiter I would return in two months. She gave me a look that said she doubted my time table. But as in other areas of my life, when I’m told I cannot or I will not, I double down. Losing the weight was grueling, but whether through determination or sheer stubbornness, I did it. By the end of the two-month period, I went back to the recruiter weighing 165 pounds. She was surprised, to say the least.

The MOS I chose was military police, mainly because I wanted to do something in law enforcement in the privatesector. Boot camp at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in Texas felt like a whirlwind. Looking back, I can say I enjoyed the chance to push myself and grow. After boot camp, my technical school was also located at Lackland. I have fond memories of my time there, learning life lessons and meeting fellow airmen who would become dear friends—some went on to be stationed at my first duty station at Peterson Airforce Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Colorado was a beautiful place, and I enjoyed experiencing all the seasons—sometimes all in one day! My unit was the Bootcamp21st Security Forces Wing. I had what is referred to as a Panama schedule, which gave me two or three days off at a time. I was fortunate to be able to visit different sites around the base, such as Seven Falls and the Garden of the Gods. I loved hiking and mountain climbing—anything that allowed me to be out in nature.

I enjoyed both my time at work on the base and the time I was able to explore the wonders around me. However, that all changed on July 3, 2006. Scheduled to go on deployment within the next few weeks, I was enjoying some time off with my fellow unit members. We decided to go to a local bar for some fun and socializing. I was the designated driver for one of my friends, so I stuck with soda for the evening. Everything was normal until the end of the evening, when a fight broke out between some of the people at the bar. As everyone was exiting the bar, I felt a sudden tingle go up my spine. I was unaware of what was happening and suddenly my right arm went limp. I was in a state of shock, and the person I was driving suggested that maybe it was a pinched nerve. He offered to let me stay at his place and see if it would be better in the morning. Even in my state of shock, I knew I wanted to drop him off and get back to my base. Looking back, of course, I realize I should have gone directly to the hospital, but that is why people say “hindsight is 20/20.”


Back in my room on the base, I could tell my right leg was starting to go limp as well. I knew I needed to get help. I called my fellow security forces on duty and requested an ambulance. The officers arrived at my room and immediately assumed I was intoxicated. I tried to explain that I’d had nothing to drink—I was having a medical emergency. When the EMTs arrived, they too believed I must be drunk. As they transported me to the hospital, I felt as if I were sliding off the bottom edge of the stretcher—I kept trying to push myself back up. I was also making an unusual noise, which prompted hospital staff to request that the officers administer a breathalyzer test to determine my alcohol level. Not surprisingly, the test registered 0.0, and the staff finally realized that this was a medical, not an alcohol-related, emergency. The last thing I remember that night was heading over to get a CAT scan. It turns out, I was making that unusual noise because I was losing the ability to breathe on my own. Before I reached the CAT scan machine, I sank into a coma and woke up a full week later to my family from New Jersey standing around my bed.

The first thing I noticed was that I was hooked up to several machines; within an instant, I had a horrible realization. I couldn’t move any part of my body except my eyes. One of the machines was a breathing machine, as my lungs were not strong enough to allow me to breathe on my own. At that point, I broke down and started to cry—I was scared, confused, and angry. My doctor didn’t know what was wrong with me at first. A week passed before he diagnosed me with acute transverse myelitis, a crippling inflammation of the spinal cord that affects the entire central nervous system. The disease is so rare that only about 1,000 people in the world are affected by it. My doctor only diagnosed it as quickly as he did because he’d seen a case of it when he was a resident 20+ years ago. The prognosis was not good, as those who are affected with the disease are usually put into one of three categories: one-third tends to recover with minimal lasting issues, a second third only recovers partial mobility, and the last third tends to never recover their mobility. My odds were even worse, because I initially experienced an acute version of the disease.

After the initial shock wore off, I forced my mind to go back to my military training. I was not going to let this situation beat me. I was in the ICU for four weeks before I was removed from the ventilator. Doctors performed a tracheostomy so I could talk and attempt to start eating again. In another week and a half, I finally I regained the use of my arm. At that point, I felt some hope that I was going beat this, regain the use of my body, and fully recover. I knew the journey was not going to be easy, but I kept reminding myself that I was a soldier and I would overcome this. I also was blessed to have the support of my family—both by blood and my service brothers and sisters. After eight weeks in the ICU, I was flown to a rehab center in northern New Jersey.

The rehab place was known for its work with spinal injuries. They classified my injury as a C4 incomplete spinal cord injury. During most of the days in rehab, I was stuck in bed because of a stage-four pressure ulcer. To help the ulcer heal, I was given a Clinitron® therapy bed, which is made up of sand that is constantly heated and moving to promote healing. The bed was very hot, however, so I eagerly awaited my therapy sessions, my one chance a day to get up out of bed. I was always dressed and waiting in my wheelchair. One day, I waited and waited, but no one came to pick me up. Able to use only my left arm and left leg, I slowly wheeled myself to my therapy session one foot at a time. I was not going to miss that session! When I finally arrived, my therapist asked, “Who brought you down here?” I replied, “No one. I didn’t want to miss my session, so I wheeled myself.” He couldn’t stop laughing and said, “Well, I guess you don’t need to work out today, after getting yourself here.” I first gave him a hard stare, then laughed and told him, “Like hell, I’m still getting my session!” After that, the therapist never sent anyone to push me. I admit I was then and still am very stubborn, but I have always understood that many people in our lives can help us push ourselves, we must be willing to take the first steps and keep going when the road gets long and hard. I believe we need to keep pushing until we’re six feet under or, in my case, seven feet under, because I will crawl out if given the chance!

I was in the rehab center for a little more than four months before I could go home. It was the Friday before Christmas. I was very happy to go home, even if still in a wheelchair and using the special hospital bed for my pressure ulcer that was still healing. I was not naïve—I knew the transition was going to be difficult because of my neurological issues, but I also knew I’d progressed far enough to move to the next stage of my recovery. Living in my parents’ home again had its own set of challenges. While they were willing and able to offer space and support, it took time and effort to get used to asking for assistance with basic needs. Life has a way of keeping us humble and allowing us to realize how fragile we are.

I continued therapy to regain strength and mobility. I truly believed I would overcome this disease and return to the Air Force. Statistically, studies show that people who have faith in their recovery are more likely to have a better outcome than those who believe recovery is unlikely. I remember that my first neurologist, an older physician, told me I would probably never walk again or progress much further in my recovery. He told me and my parents that he would be trying to simply ensure that I did not degrade further. While I was angry and taken aback by this, it fueled my decision to find another doctor who would be an active part of my support system, regardless of the prognosis.

While still working with outpatient therapy, I decided that no matter what my future held, I wanted to help others and find meaning for my own life. I decided to go back to school to earn a bachelor of science in human services management. Because I was still in a wheelchair, I elected to attend my classes online, but I wanted to be able to walk to accept my diploma. For the next few years, my life consisted of two main tasks: working on my degree and pushing myself physically. Even when my insurance decided I had plateaued and they would no longer pay for my therapy, I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer. When the day came to graduate, my twin brother, who was also graduating with his bachelor of arts, walked with me down the aisle, and I accepted my degree on my own terms, on my own two legs.

It took a few more years of working on my mobility before I couldVeterans Administration walk without a cane. Around that time, I was feeling deeply grateful for my support system, and I decided I wanted to provide that same support to others. I enrolled in Rutgers University–Camden’s social work master’s program. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to pay for the program, because I’d used my G.I. Bill funds. At Rutgers, veteran liaison Fred Davis showed me how to access additional funds available to veterans with disabilities. Fred not only helped me get reimbursed for the year of tuition I paid but also introduced me to fellow student veterans who provided much-needed emotional support. These other soldiers understood the stressors and conditions I’d gone through and still struggled with. Rutgers has a strong understanding of the veteran experience, and its faculty works hard to make supportive resources available. Rutgers has a real stake in the success of their veteran students, and it shows.

During the second year of my master’s program, I interned at the Philadelphia Veteran Medical Center—this was exactly the population I wanted to serve. Working with some of the veterans, I sensed resistance until they learned I was a fellow veteran. Then their whole demeanor changed and their guard went down. My experiences at the medical center reinforced my belief that I was meant to work with fellow veterans and individuals with disabilities. Graduating from Rutgers University was one of the proudest days of my life. Without Fred Davis and my fellow veteran students, the road to that diploma would have been much more difficult.

One of my other passions is learning about different cultures and places. During my summer break, I backpacked through Europe to see how other people lived, experiencing the world I hoped to improve. Although my mobility was still a challenge, I refused to allow it to hinder the pursuit of my goals. My disability would not be an inability—I would focus instead on my abilities. My 30 days in Europe was only the first of many times that I would discover how strong I was when I challenged myself.

Adam Klein

After graduating, I applied for a two-year fellowship position in a congressional office through the Wounded Warrior Program. Three weeks later, I received an employment offer, and I was thrilled. Not only would I have the chance to work on behalf of a great program, but I would also be working as a veteran case manager in the office of Congressman Donald Norcross, from the 1st District in New Jersey. I already knew that Congressman Norcross was passionate about the care and treatment of veterans, as well as the working class. I was excited to be working under his leadership.

Over the next two years, I learned about veteran needs and the resources they could receive through a congressional office. If our office was unable to assist, we made every effort to find out who could. I also met with other organizations and individuals who were working to improve the lives of veterans. The time I spent in that position gave me a better perspective on the needs of my fellow veterans and the laws and policies being suggested to find those resources and solutions. As the fellowship came to an end, I still had my passion to serve veterans, and this time I wanted more of a one-on-one experience. Rutgers-CamdenFortunately, I was offered a veteran service officer position at the New Jersey Camden County Office of Veteran Affairs, where I could still help veterans access the resources for their individual situations. My future plans are to further my mobility, enhance my knowledge in the service of my fellow veterans and people with disabilities, and finally prove that having a disability should never overshadow your ability to help better the world.

TFS Scholarships Launches Online Toolkit to Provide College Funding Resources

Online MBA

SALT LAKE CITY— TFS Scholarships (TFS), the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding, has launched a free online toolkit to provide counselors, families and students with resources to help improve the college scholarship search process. The toolkit, available at tuitionfundingsources.com/resource-toolkit, provides downloadable resources and practical tips on how to find and apply for scholarships.

The launch comes in celebration with Financial Aid Awareness Month when many families are beginning the FAFSA process and researching financial aid options.

“We hope these resources help raise awareness around TFS and the 7 million college scholarships available to undergraduate, graduate and professional students,” said Richard Sorensen, president of TFS Scholarships. “Our goal is to help families discover alternative ways to offset the rising costs of higher education.”

The resource toolkit includes flyers, email templates, newsletter content, digital banners and table toppers which are designed to be shareable content that counselors, students and organizations can use to spread the word about how to find free money for college.

The newly revamped TFS website curates over 7 million scholarship opportunities from across the country – with the majority coming directly from colleges and universities—and matches them to students based on their personal profile, where they want to study, and stage of academic study. By tailoring the search criteria, TFS identifies scholarships that students are uniquely qualified for, thus lowering the application pool and increasing the chances of winning. By creating an online profile, students can find scholarships representing more than $41 billion in aid. About 5,000 new scholarships are added to the database every month and appear in real time.

Thanks to exclusive financial support from Wells Fargo, the TFS website is completely ad-free, and no selling of data, making it a safe and trusted place to search.

For more information about Tuition Funding Sources visit tuitionfundingsources.com.


About TFS Scholarships

TFS Scholarships (TFS) is an independent service that provides free access to scholarship opportunities for aspiring and current undergraduate, graduate, and professional students. Founded in 1987, TFS began as a passion project to help students and has grown into the most comprehensive online resource for higher education funding. Today, TFS is a trusted place where students and families enjoy free access to more than 7 million scholarships representing more than $41 billion in college funding. In addition to its vast database that’s refreshed with 5,000 new scholarships every month, TFS also offers information about career planning, financial aid, and federal and private student loan programs as part of its commitment to helping students fund their future. Learn more at tuitionfundingsources.com.


Long Beach Native helps train the Navy’s best pilots at TOPGUN


FALLON, Nev. – In Nevada’s high desert is the Navy’s premiere tactical air warfare training center, home to the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center and it’s Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, known to the world as TOPGUN. A 2000 Narbonne High School graduate and Long Beach, California, native is part of the Navy’s finest aviation fighter training facility in the world.

Petty Officer 1st Class Frank Blackman is an aviation machinist’s mate working with the Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Detachment stationed aboard Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. As a Navy aviation machinist’s mate and first class petty officer, Blackman is responsible for supervising the maintenance of aircraft engines and their related systems while ensuring quality control and safety.

“I joined the Navy for a lifestyle change, to expand my horizons and explore new opportunities,” said Blackman.

TOPGUN began 48 years ago with the determination of nine pilots, the skepticism of the government and almost no budget as history would recall. In the early years it turned the tide of a losing air war in Vietnam, revolutionized military doctrine, inspired a Hollywood blockbuster and attracted and trained the best allied pilots and air crew from all over the world.

Blackman plays a crucial role in the overall mission that flies over 5,000 adversary sorties per year in support of the Navy and Marine Corp Active and Reserve fleet and replacement squadrons, carrier air wings and marine aircraft groups including the United States Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National guard and Canadian Forces.

“Nowhere in the world does the Navy have the ability to train as we do in NAS Fallon,” said NAS Fallon Commanding Officer, Capt. David Halloran. “The Navy specifically chose NAS Fallon as the location for Top Gun and the Naval Special Warfare Tactical Ground Mobility Training Center because of the desert climate, mountainous terrain, and sophisticated ranges available in northern Nevada.  Every Carrier Air Wing and Navy Seal Team is required to receive the essential training provided here prior to being deployed in theater.”

According to Navy officials, TOPGUN is highly competitive and exposes Navy and Marine Corp pilots to the most demanding training scenarios in fighter aviation lead by some of the most talented pilots in the world. Each pilot is hand-selected for air-to-air and air-to-ground training and subsequently, as a TOPGUN instructor. “I’m the first in my family to serve in the military,” said Blackman. “I’m proud of my five Navy Achievement Medals and the being a part of the humanitarian assistant response after the tsunami in Thailand.”

Blackman also said they are proud to serve at the center of excellence for naval aviation, training and tactics development.

The future of U.S. aviation depends on the Navy’s ability to achieve their vision for defeating tomorrow’s air threats with the support of the ground crews and pilots.

“Serving in the Navy gives me the opportunity to provide for my family,” added Blackman. “I love the camaraderie and close-knit community.”

Lt. Bridget Mitchell, Navy Office of Community Outreach
Photo by-
Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Gary Ward

Former Navy SEAL teams up with former Under Armour execs to found new denim brand, Revtown


Pittsburgh, Pa. – Revtown, a new denim brand, today launched its first collection of hand-crafted, premium jeans at revtownusa.com. Revtown Jeans are built with DECADE DENIM™, the brand’s patented fabric that is infused with four-way, dynamic stretch, and constructed with the strongest fibers in apparel design today.

“We’re thrilled to announce the launch of Revtown,” said Henry Stafford, Founder and CEO of Revtown. “With Decade Denim, we’ve created a level comfort, fit and feel that hasn’t been experienced in a pair of jeans. And we’re proud to deliver our jeans directly to the consumer for less than half the price of a typical pair of designer jeans.”

This first Revtown collection is designed for men. A women’s collection is in design for next year.

Revtown was founded by a group with extensive experience in the apparel world. Stafford and Steve Battista, Revtown’s Chief Marketing Officer, worked together for nearly a decade at Under Armour as leaders of product, and brand, respectively. Stafford was chief merchandising officer at American Eagle Outfitters before spending more than six years at Under Armour, overseeing product and all of the company’s North American business. Battista served as Under Armour’s head of brand and creative, among other leadership roles over 17 years.

The company’s founders also include Matthew Maasdam and Chris Lust. Maasdam, Revtown’s Chief Digital Officer, served 14 years as a Navy SEAL and later as the U.S. Navy’s aide to the President of the United States, before running e-commerce Operations for Under Armour. Chris Lust, founder and partner of Dock Street Capital Management and SLC Capital Management, will serve as Revtown’s CFO.

The Revtown product team boasts some of the top designers and engineers from the most innovative athletic apparel brands today, complemented by a denim manufacturing team that has made over 150 million pairs of jeans, with a combined 100 years of denim production experience.

Revtown Jeans come in two fits styles, SHARP and AUTOMATIC. Sharp jeans are fitted with a refined look, more dress than casual, yet with the flex of DECADE DENIM™. Automatic jeans are for “any guy, any time, any place.” Automatic jeans are designed to be mobile, not baggy, providing ultimate comfort without having to size up.

Revtown also offers Revtown Shirts, made from world-class Pima cotton. Revtown Shirts come in four essential styles, including Crew, V-Neck, Henley and Polo. Also available as Revtown launches are Revtown Crates, offering two pairs of jeans and any three shirts for just $210.

For your perfect pair of jeans, visit www.revtownusa.com.

About Revtown:
Launched in 2018, Revtown is a new denim brand delivering “Ridiculous Quality, & Unbelievable Fit for Half the Price.” The Brand’s signature fabric is DECADE DENIM™, constructed with a stretch yarn that provides all-over stretch and supreme comfort in a proper pair of jeans. Revtown’s headquarters are in Pittsburgh, Pa. – revtownusa.com.

Kirstie Ennis: Going “Full Throttle”

Kirstie Ennis

By Brady Rhoades

Veteran Kirstie Ennis is one of the best Paralympian snowboarders in the world, and she’s also eying the seven great summits, recently climbing 19,341-foot Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa and 16,024-foot Carstensz Pyramid in Indonesia. On one leg.

As a Marine Corps sergeant. in Afghanistan—a helicopter door gunner—she wrecked a leg when the helicopter she was in crashed. That leg was amputated above the knee in 2015.

Her jaw was destroyed, she lost teeth, she injured discs in her spine, and she suffered facial lacerations, traumatic brain injury, and PTSD.

In the process of undergoing more than 40 surgeries, she came to a realization, acquiring a come-to-terms toughness and wisdom that would help motivate her to train as a snowboarder for the 2018 Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang County, in the Gangwon region of South Korea.

And to attempt to conquer the tallest peaks on all seven continents.

Countless times a day, she repeats one of her mantras: Stop worrying about what you lost. Look at what you’ve got. Or: What counts is what’s behind your rib cage and six inches between your ears.

She’s only 26, but her near-death experience offered an invaluable lesson on how precious time is.

“I go full throttle,” she said. “I come up with obnoxious goals and I go after them.”

It’s hard to believe that this fifth-gear athlete chasing Paralympian goals—and literally ascending historic heights for an above-the-knee-amputee mountain climber—spent months in hospital beds, nearly lifeless, filled with doubt, enveloped in depression. She wondered how she’d ever get around, go on. What would she do? Would she ever wear a dress again? Would anyone ever be attracted to her?

Idle time can be a wounded warrior’s worst enemy. Fathers can be their best friends.

“Dad said, ‘People in the Middle East couldn’t kill you, and now you’re going to collapse?'” she recalls. “The light went on and I said, ‘I made it home. Nobody owes me a damn thing.'”

Kirstie Ennis

Ennis had to mine for the toughness that is at her core, but her sense of humor? That comes effortlessly.

The same year her leg was amputated, she participated in the Walking with the Wounded event, in which wounded warriors trek 1,000 miles, ending at Buckingham Palace in London. Ennis left dozens of dog tags bearing the names of fallen comrades along the way. She also met Prince Harry, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

Prince Harry, not one to shirk his duties, logged many miles during the event. At one point, he turned to Ennis and complained that his knee ached.

“I looked over and was like, ‘That’s (expletive) cute, really,’” Ennis said. Prince Harry cracked up.

Ennis and Prince Harry became fast friends. At the conclusion of her walk, she presented the final dog tag to him.

Their embrace was photographed and zoomed across the wires, making her a celebrity in a matter of minutes.

For her service to the country, Ennis has earned the NATO Medal, Combat Action Wings with three gold stars, National Defense Medal, Global War on Terrorism Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Air Medal, Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan National Campaign Medal, two Letters of Appreciation, Certificate of Commendation, and a Certificate of Appreciation.

But who says you can’t be uber-tough and sexy?

ESPN called, asking her to grace the cover of ESPN The Magazine‘s 2017 Body Issue, with rather risqué photos of her on the inside pages. They wanted her to climb Joshua Tree, sans clothes.

She had her doubts. But Ennis tends to run toward challenges, toward fear.

“I thought about it and considered the demographic and the people Kirstie Ennisthat would see it, and I realized that it wasn’t about me anymore,” she said. “Any man, woman, or child facing some sort of adversity has the potential to be inspired by these pictures of someone who has only been missing her leg for a few years go out and do things she wasn’t doing with two legs.”

Ennis appeared in the Body Issue, along with other great athletes, such as Javier Baez (baseball), A.J. Andrews (softball), and Malakai Fekitoa (rugby).

The daughter of two Marines, Ennis enlisted out of Florida when she was 17 years old, in 2008. She served for four years as a helicopter door gunner and airframes mechanic when disaster struck on June 23, 2012.

While on her second deployment in Afghanistan, Ennis’ CH-53D helicopter crashed in the Helmand Province.

Badly injured, she fought to remain on active duty but was medically retired in 2014. After her below-the-knee amputation on November 23, 2015, Ennis contracted the antibiotic-resistant MRSA and, because of a resulting infection, doctors were forced to remove her knee a month later.

“A below-the-knee amputation is night-and-day from above-the-knee,” she said. “You have to relearn everything. You’re basically a toddler.”

When she was told that surgeons would have to perform above-the-knee surgery, she said she “lost it.” She cried. She wailed.

“It’s one curveball after another,” she said.

She still struggles, emotionally. “I’d be lying if I said it’s easy,” she said.

Two years after her life-altering surgery, she’s adapted, and she’s developed coping skills, which is a critical component of recovery.

Focus on what you have, not on what you don’t.

Set lofty goals.

Stay busy.

And true to her military training, be of service to others.

“When I’m having a bad day, I help someone who’s missing three limbs,” she said. “There’s this common misconception about what strength is. In the grand scheme of things, we’re in this together. You have to realize that you have to turn to somebody.”

Some of her best days involving helping other wounded warriors—whether it be through her notoriety as a star Paralympian or simply visiting a hospital.

“I know I’m on a platform,” she said. “I want to inspire people to reach their potential.”

She recalls a wounded warrior uttering eight words that she’ll never forget and that make her journey—as harrowing as it has been—worth it.

“You inspired me to walk another 10 steps,” the woman said.


Garden Grove native supports one of the Navy’s most versatile combat ships

Darrell Post

SAN DIEGO – A 2001 Rancho Alamitos High School graduate and Garden Grove, California, native is serving in the U.S. Navy as part of the staff aboard Littoral Ship Squadron One, supporting one of the country’s most versatile combat ships.

Petty Officer 1st Class Darrell Post is a hull maintenance technician serving at Littoral Ship Squadron One in San Diego.

A hull maintenance technician is responsible for the metal work necessary to keep all types of shipboard structures in good shape.

“Following directions is something that I learned that has been vital to my success,” said Post. “Keeping a strong belief in procedural compliance has helped me stay focused and allowed me to progress in the Navy.”

The ship’s technological benefits allow for swapping mission packages quickly, meaning sailors can support multiple missions, such as surface warfare, mine warfare, or anti-submarine warfare.

Designed to defeat threats such as mines, quiet diesel submarines and fast surface craft, littoral combat ships are a bold departure from traditional Navy shipbuilding programs. The LCS sustainment strategy was developed to take into account the unique design and manning of LCS and its associated mission modules.

“Every single day our LCS surface warriors prove they are the best and the brightest – and let me tell you, they love their ships,” said Capt. M. Jordan Harrison, Commander, Littoral Combat Ship Squadron ONE.  “LCS are fast, agile, maneuverable and the minimal crew manning affords leadership and qualification opportunities you won’t get anywhere else in the Navy. Visit one of our ships and you will see ensigns and chiefs at the helm because that is just how highly trained and talented and motivated our officers and Sailors are in the LCS community.”

As one of the staff members at LCSRON supporting one of the Navy’s newest ships, Post explained they are building a legacy that will last beyond their lifetimes. Staff members know how important it is for the Navy to develop new war-fighting capabilities to continue their success on the world’s oceans.

“My grandfather, dad and brother all served in the Army,” Post said. “They were an influence in me joining the military because I saw how the military helped set them up to better their lives.”

Post’s proudest accomplishment was being awarded an Iraq campaign medal.

Through innovative planning, the design of systems, and crew requirements, the LCS platform allows the fleet to increase forward presence and optimize its personnel, improving the ability of the Navy to be where it matters, when it matters.

“Serving in the Navy has instilled in me structure and a sense of belonging,” Post said. “The chain of command makes this a special place to come to work each day. They have helped me every step of the way since I checked in.”

Source: Navy Outreach

From War Zones to College Life

Stephen Walsh

Transition isn’t easy, but student veteran organizations and services can help

By Deborah Circelli

After serving 12 years as a U.S Army infantryman, Stephen Walsh had quite an adjustment when he started at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University last fall. The 30-year-old’s world went from fighting in war zones on two deployments in Iraq and another two in Afghanistan to attending classes with 18-year-olds who were the same age he was when he enlisted.

“The year I joined the Army is the year they were in kindergarten. It’s an odd feeling,” said Walsh, now 31, pictured above, and an aeronautical science major studying to become a commercial airline pilot.

Dan McCabe, 30, who served in the Army for almost seven years as a mechanic, had a similar adjustment period when he left military life in April 2013. He was deployed to Iraq and additional duty stations working on Humvees and other vehicles.

Dan McCabe

Following service, McCabe spent three years at various jobs before enrolling at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Daytona Beach campus in the Homeland Security degree program. Embry-Riddle is the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace with campuses around the world and online degree programs. When McCabe first started, he went to class, did his homework, and went home. It felt almost like a job, he said, until he joined, and soon revived, the Student Veterans Organization (SVO), where he met more and more students who had his same military experience.

Both McCabe and Walsh found camaraderie at Embry-Riddle’s

Veteran Student Services, which provides a host of assistance, from helping veterans apply for benefits to tutoring, counseling, and textbook lending. Now, McCabe, who is president of the Student Veterans Organization, and Walsh, the veteran representative on the Student Government Association, are helping other veterans adjust and spreading awareness of services on campus.

“When you get out of the military, it’s a different mindset and lifestyle,” McCabe said. “We always had direction, and we had a purpose. That can be difficult to find when you leave. We try to help with that.”

The veteran leaders not only believe veterans can benefit from being more involved in the college experience but also hope the general student population will interact and participate more in activities with veterans to help bridge the age gap.

“Anytime there’s a veteran event, I want to try to get everybody involved. Everybody is an Eagle first,” said Walsh, who is also now in the Army National Guard.

About the Author
Deborah Circelli is a communications specialist at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Source: This article was excerpted from the original, which can be found at news.erau.edu/headlines/from-war-zones-to-college-life


Top Cities for Small Business Startups

Top Cities for Startups

Veterans continue to do more than their fair share after leaving the military: At least one-in-four veterans in the workforce are running their own business, a rate that is 7.7 percentage points greater than the national average, according to the Census Bureau.

“Time and again, servicemen and women across the country have shared with us a main reason why they became entrepreneurs: Their experience in the military carried over into a career in which they control their own destiny, sometimes by equipping them with the technical skills needed in their second career, but always by ensuring that they had the ‘soft skills’ so critical to running a small business,” said Thumbtack Economist Lucas Puente, PhD.

Thumbtack is an online service that matches customers with local professionals.

“At Thumbtack, we celebrate the 2.5 million veterans who run their own small businesses in the U.S.,” continued Puente, “and encourage local governmental leadership to ensure veterans pursuing this path have the resources they need to succeed.”

As part of Thumbtack’s 2017 Small Business Friendliness Survey, 1,371 veteran-small-business-owners on Thumbtack were asked to evaluate their local governments’ support for businesses like theirs to determine the best communities for veterans to start, manage and grow a small business. Leadership by local governmental and political officials in the top cities are tasked with ensuring veteran entrepreneurs have the resources they need to succeed and don’t get stymied by the local regulatory or tax infrastructure.

The cities that made the top 5 list were—

  1. Austin, Texas
  2. Houston, Texas
  3. Charlotte, North Carolina
  4. Fort Worth, Texas
  5. Los Angeles, California

The veterans interviewed for this study noted a military background alone isn’t sufficient to develop a thriving business; another factor they pointed to is a supportive community. While every business’ needs are different, the study indicates operating in a place where veteran-owned businesses are valued by clients, bankers, suppliers, and others can provide a leg up in the harrowing process of starting and growing a small business. These locations proved they do value their local veteran-owned businesses.

“Austin is a phenomenal place for a veteran to start a business,” said Thumbtack Pro Teri Young, owner of Teri Young Photography. “The community is rich with active and retired military personnel, as well as an abundance of supportive, patriotic civilians. With local programs like ‘Boots to Business’ and SCORE, the idea of becoming my own boss was a much clearer reality.”

Source: businesswire.com

Navy SEAL Jason Redman To Host Los Angeles Fundraiser for Warfare Disability to Benefit the Combat Wounded Coalition and The Overcome Academy-Award-Winning Actress Sharon Stone to Lead Live Fundraising Auction


Event Hosted by Ferrari of Beverly Hills

Overcome Academy and The Combat Wounded Coalition will hold a February 15th Los Angeles evening fundraiser to raise awareness and support the sacrifices made by combat wounded warriors. Orchestrated by Retired Navy SEAL Jason Redman, a wounded warrior himself and founder of the Overcome Academy, the event at Peterson Automotive Museum will include a live charity auction conducted by award-winning actress, activist and philanthropist Sharon Stone to support the missions of the Overcome Academy and The Combat Wounded Coalition. The event is hosted by Ferrari of Beverly Hills. Associate supporters are RM/Sotheby’s, Ferrari Financial Service, Bruce Meyer and Ferrari Lake Forest.

To support this evening of true camaraderie that recognizes the importance of our combat wounded warriors’ sacrifices, charitable contributions can be made by visiting: www.combatwoundedcoalition.org. The February 15th event at the Peterson Auto Museum, located at 6060 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, will include drinks, entertainment and special guests.

Retired Navy SEAL, Jason “Jay” Redman is the author of The Trident, a riveting memoir capturing a 21-year career and journey in leadership serving with the US Navy SEAL Teams. He is a nationally sought after motivational speaker and the founder of SOF Spoken speaking company providing inspirational presentations across the country to Fortune 500 companies, sports teams and organizations. Severely wounded on a combat operation in Iraq in 2007, Redman would undergo almost 40 surgeries over the next four years. During his recovery, Redman and his wife founded and launched Wounded Wear, a non-profit organization committed to providing wounded warriors free clothing and clothing modifications based off Redman’s experiences with his own wounds and public reactions to his injuries. In 2015, Redman expanded Wounded Wear into the Combat Wounded Coalition.

The Combat Wounded Coalition™ is a nationally known Non-Profit Organization (Tax ID – 27-0426467) that inspires combat-wounded warriors, their families, and families of the fallen to Overcome through four program pillars – Pride – Power – Purpose and Peace. The Combat Wounded Coalition connects combat wounded warriors with vetted partner organizations to directly match and help fund warrior needs with partner services. The Combat Wounded Coalition then provides the oversight, management and accountability of warriors as they pass through the Four Pillar Pipeline tracking them before, during, and after receiving support and services provided by the CWC and our strategic partners.

In 2017, Redman observing and recognizing the growing difficulty for wounded warriors to transition successfully back into civilian life, created the Overcome Academy, a ground-breaking program with support from licensed retired Navy psychologists, certified disability specialists, leadership and trauma experts, Old Dominion University, and The Combat Wounded Coalition.

The Overcome Academy is a brand new, curriculum-based program, based in Virginia, operated through Combat Wounded Coalition, that teaches leadership, resiliency and communication skills for wounded warriors to get them back into their communities as leaders working with schools, businesses and youth mentorship programs. Though there are many programs that help warriors find educational opportunities and employment opportunities, one of the key problems is many warriors do not know who they are in the civilian world yet. The Overcome Academy seeks to assist them to understand who they are; what their purpose and mission is and most importantly how to lead themselves to accomplish it. The purpose of the Overcome Academy is to teach returning warriors how to be leaders within their family, workplace and community; how to build structure within their own lives, lead themselves and then how to take that knowledge and use it to lead others. www.OvercomeAcademy.org – Proceeds raised from this event will be targeted for the growth and development of the Overcome Academy. The first inaugural Overcome Academy class begins Feb 19th in Virginia Beach, VA.

After 21 years in the US Navy, Redman retired in 2013 and lives in Virginia with his wife and three children. Redman has appeared on multiple national news networks including Fox News, CBS, CNN and CBN. He has appeared on “Fox and Friends” multiple times and the “Huckabee” show. He has appeared in multiple documentaries including History Channel’s “Navy SEALs, America’s Secret Warriors.” Additionally, Redman is an actor playing the lead role in the film “The Perfect Day” and a supporting character on an episode of “Hawaii 5-0.”

Social Media Links

Facebook – https://business.facebook.com/combatwoundedcoalition

Twitter – https://twitter.com/cwc_org

Hashtag #overcomeacademy




Marine veteran paying it forward

Marine Veteran


DAV claims assistance inspires Marine veteran to give back as service officer

After receiving assistance from DAV benefits specialist Dan Knabe, Marine Corps veteran Mike Franko was inspired to give back. Just months after receiving a corrected rating from the VA, the Afghanistan War veteran began training as a Department of Missouri service officer, a role where he can pay it forward to fellow veterans.

Mike Franko filed a claim for disability benefits following his discharge from the military in 2016, but an error resulted in the Marine Corps veteran not receiving the benefits he earned through service.

After being rated at zero percent for his battered knees and denied a rating for post-traumatic stress, the former infantryman was convinced he did not warrant support through the VA. That all changed when he was referred to DAV.

“Initially, I was thinking there’s too many Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen who deserve it more than me, but I was finally convinced I’m as deserving as they are,” said Franko, who served as a squad leader in Afghanistan. “[My family and friends] said, ‘Your back and legs are messed up from being blown up; you deserve support.’”

Someone suggested he speak with a veterans service organization. That is when he met DAV National Service Officer Dan Knabe.

The DAV benefits advocate reviewed Franko’s files and immediately DAV Assistancesaw red flags.

“Mike had pain in motion, and in accordance with VA rules, that is automatically a 10 percent evaluation,” said Knabe. “That got me curious, and then I looked further and saw the denied service connection for post-traumatic stress. The decision confirmed a diagnosis but not a stressor.”

Knabe sifted through the veteran’s files and noticed he had received a Combat Action Ribbon.

“That is when I knew there was a clear and unmistakable error, because that award is a presumptive stressor for post-traumatic stress,” explained Knabe, an Army veteran. He immediately went to meet with his VA counterparts. They agreed with his discovery and quickly came back with a correct rating that provides Franko access to the benefits and services he should have been awarded right away.

“We do not typically find that many mistakes, but cases like this show the spirit of a service officer,” said Knabe. “It puts that feeling in your heart that you’re making a difference.

“We have a great professional relationship with the VA here in St. Louis and communicate regularly on cases, give each other feedback and come to a mutual agreement in order to get the veteran what’s right based on their record.”

St. Louis VA Regional Office Director Mitzi Marsh agreed on the importance of working together.

“The regional office’s goal is to make the right decision and provide all the benefits veterans have earned. If there is a concern, we work closely with veterans service organizations to review it and, if necessary, correct the problem,” said Marsh, an Army veteran. “We see our relationship with veterans service organizations only continuing to grow in the future through initiatives like Decision Ready Claims and other programs.”

“I was retroactively awarded, and I don’t think that would have happened without Dan’s help,” said Franko. “Dan expedited the whole process, especially compared to my original claim.”

Franko had wanted to work in law enforcement but knew his injuries would inhibit him. So instead, he decided to pay forward Knabe’s assistance to other veterans.

“I thought if I can’t serve my local community, then why don’t I serve the veteran community,” said Franko. “After seeing Dan work and do what he did for me, now I can sit on his side of the desk and help fellow veterans.”

He relayed his interest to Knabe. The next day, Franko received a call about a service officer position with the DAV Department of Missouri and was told he should apply.

Knabe, who had gone through his own rough patch after a deployment to Iraq but received help through the VA, said he’d found his way to serve veterans in a similar way.

“I was [a noncommissioned officer] so I have always had a passion to help. I was making sure soldiers were successful not only in the military but in life,” Knabe said. “I was lost when I came back, trying to find meaning as a civilian, and that’s when I found DAV. It’s about service and the mission. DAV saved me from a dark time and restored my sense of purpose.

“DAV took care of me, and now I hope I take care of DAV. I am honored it inspires Mike to have that same passion to assist fellow service members.”

DAV Department of Missouri Adjutant Michael Elmore was happy to welcome Franko on board.

“We are excited to have Mike join 16 other dedicated veterans as a DAV Department of Missouri service officer,” said Elmore. “The Show-Me State is fortunate to have another talented advocate assist the nearly half a million veterans living in Missouri with DAV’s life-changing benefits and services.”

Franko began his training in November and looks forward to bringing his unique skill set as a recently discharged veteran to the office.

“I’m young blood with a fresh mind, bringing a new perspective that can hopefully help veterans not just through claims but also different aspects of life,” said Franko.

“It is a victory anytime we can help a veteran with a claim, but to have a client be so inspired they choose to give back in their career full-time is incredibly meaningful,” said DAV National Service Director Jim Marszalek. “DAV is veterans helping veterans, and Dan and Mike are living examples of our mission of service.”

Best Jobs For Veterans 2018

Best Jobs for Veterans

Eight of the best civilian jobs for transitioning veterans have been identified by one of the top job search sites, CareerCast. These include registered nurse, financial advisor, info security analyst and operations research assistant, among others.

“There are many benefits to hiring veterans,” says Kyle Kensing, online content editor, CareerCast. “The discipline, teamwork and leadership qualities emphasized in the military directly translate to the civilian workforce. Skills gained during military service are in high demand.”

Public and private sector efforts to recruit and employ veterans have paid major dividends in lowering the unemployment rate for veterans. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2016 that of the approximately 21.2 million men and women with military experience, an unemployment rate that hovered near 10 percent just seven years ago has been cut almost in half.

The Veterans Opportunity to Work Act was designed for the Department of Labor to match veterans with career paths based on their responsibilities while in service. Private-sector companies are also launching their own hiring initiatives to match veteran job seekers with open positions.

Growing emphasis on technological skills in the military translate well to a growing market for IT professionals. Information Security is an area of growing importance in both military and government matters. Veterans who work specifically in IT security during their service can effectively translate their skills into government positions of the same nature.

Another area of emphasis in military service is healthcare. Nursing positions are also in demand for enlisted personnel, and many states allow veterans with experience as nurses in the military to apply that experience to civilian certification.

For those veterans looking to use their civilian careers to make a positive impact for others in the military, careers in management and finance offer great opportunities. Businesses tailoring their outreach to the veteran community are increasingly turning to veterans for management consultant and operations research analyst positions.
Financial advisor is the No. 1 most in-demand field in the CareerCast Veteran Network job database. Veterans with a background in mathematics and finance can work directly with military families to help them protect their investments and savings.

The improved employment landscape for veterans isn’t merely a boon to one section of the workforce. Veterans bring skills that greatly benefit employers, making them prime candidates in a variety of fields.

Here are eight of the best jobs for veterans:

Profession Annual Median Salary* Growth Outlook*
Financial advisor $89,160 30%
Information security analyst $90,120 18%
Management consultant $81,320 14%
Nurse practitioner $104,740 31%
Operations research analyst $78,630 30%
Registered nurse $67,490 16%
Sales manager $113,860 5%
Software engineer $100,690 17%

The best jobs for veterans were selected from the 200 professions covered in the Jobs Rated report as a good match based on their responsibilities and skills gained while in service.

Wages and projected growth outlooks through 2024 are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
To read the full report, visit veteran.careercast.com/jobs-rated
Source: veteran.careercast.com/jobs-veterans