Not Taking a Moment for Granted

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Tim Klund pictured leaning on an outdoor railing smiling

Air Force veteran Tim Klund (aka TK) wasn’t even 30 years old when he got a life-changing wakeup call—one that taught him not to take anything for granted. Following a terrible car accident nearly killed him, Klund decided that life was too short to not savor every moment and follow his dreams.

He left his corporate job, set out on his own, and in 2018 introduced a line of CBD-based products through the company he cofounded, Verve Forever. Klund’s experience in the Air Force not only helped him mature but also served as the building blocks for his success in the civilian world.

One thing is clear—from his military service to his high-paying corporate job to representing and helping professional athletes promote their brands—he’s come full circle.

Tim describes some of the twists and turns of his fascinating career, and shares his story with Annie Nelson, founder of the American Soldier Network:

The Military Way

I wasn’t planning on going into the military. When I graduated from high school, I wanted to go to college to play college football and chase girls. I must have been really good at it, because I did a little too much chasing and my grades slipped to the point where I would need to attend junior college before I headed off to a four-year college. My dad was smart enough to realize that I needed structure and discipline in my life, so he told me he was going to take the next day off work and take me to get a job. He said he knew some GREAT companies that were hiring. The next morning, we pulled up in front of the Armed Forces Recruiting Offices!

Parking the car, my dad said to me, “The good news is that all four branches are hiring. And the other good news is that I’m going to let you pick!” After an hour of back and forth, we went into the Air Force Recruiting Office. My dad had to sign for me, because I was still just 17 years old.

By September of 1988, I was in San Antonio, Texas, at Lackland AFB for basic training. After, I went to Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas, to train to become an electrician. After graduating from tech school, I was off to Clark AFB in the Philippines. I had a great time during my stay in the Philippines, mostly working and playing sports, on both the base soccer and softball teams. In 1996, then-President Bill Clinton issued an order for early outs from the military—with a year and a half of my service left, I decided to apply to get out early and go play college football.

The early out was approved, and a week and a half later, I was a veteran. I served honorably for six and a half years, and as I look back, I thank my dad for being smart enough to get me into the military. I honestly believe every American citizen should serve for a minimum of two years and by doing so, their college education would be free. We would have a lot more patriots and a lot less student debt! (Just my opinion.)

Dreaming of Playing Ball

When I left the Air Force, I’d been accepted at Southeast Missouri State and was granted the opportunity to walk onto the Southeast Missouri (SEMO) football team that fall. It was something I’d always wanted to do, and at twenty-four and a half years old, I felt this would be my only opportunity. I was training for football and working a part-time job… but most of all, I was enjoying being a civilian and now a soon-to-be a college student/athlete. One day a friend from high school asked me what I was going to college for. I told him I’d like to go into sales and marketing. He told me I should come to work for him. He said, “I’m selling mobile homes, and they’re selling like hotcakes.” After catching my breath from laughing, I said, “Bro, I’m going to college, I am NOT selling trailers!” He laughed and said, “Klund-boy, come by my office tomorrow. I want to take you to lunch and show you what we do.”

I figured, hey, it’s a free lunch … what do I have to lose? When I arrived at his office the next day, I immediately saw that today’s manufactured homes were nothing like the trailer I’d grown up in. My friend took me through a couple, and I was blown away. We went back to his office, and he pulled out his pay stubs—he was making about $90,000 a year selling mobile homes. I asked, how soon can I start?

I spoke to the head coach of the SEMO football team, Coach John Mumford, and he said, “Klund if you can make that kind of money and you don’t have to rack up all the student debt, go get to it!” He also said, “If you’re going to do it, I expect you to give 110 percent every day, just as if you were on this football field.” That was all the incentive I needed, and my career in sales was off!

A Stark Reminder

The world of mobile homes put me on an escalator to success in life. I had great mentors throughout, I listened to what everyone had to say, and I worked hard. I knew that being the first person in the office and the last to leave would help me succeed. In spring of 2000, my family and I moved from Southeast Missouri to Fort Worth, Texas, where I took a position with a Fortune 500 company that sold manufactured homes. My star continued to rise until one fateful day in October of that year. I had a terrible car accident where I almost died. I fell asleep while driving home late one night. I was unconscious and not breathing when paramedics arrived and had to be brought back to life four times as I was airlifted to Harris Methodist Trauma Hospital in downtown Fort Worth. All the first responders—the State Highway Patrol, local firefighters, EMTs, helicopter medical team, nurses, and doctors— ALL played a role in saving my life that night, and I am forever grateful.

A Flash of Inspiration

While recovering, I was worrying about my position at the company. While talking to my mom about it, she said the company should be more worried about losing me as an employee. “With your income, you must be making them truckloads of money!” For the first time, I took a good look at myself and realized my value to the company. I began to consider what I really wanted to do with my life. Watching the movie Jerry McGuire one afternoon, I was suddenly struck with inspiration. I told my wife, “THAT’S IT! That’s what I want to be—a Jerry McGuire!” If you could have seen the look on my wife’s face, I’m not sure if you would have laughed or cried. In disbelief, my wife said, “Tim, get serious! You are not college educated and you don’t even know any professional athletes!” I knew she had a point, but this was what I wanted to do. Months later, I met my first professional athlete, Lemuel Stinson from the Chicago Bears. We grew close, and he taught me how to be a sports manager, and the two of us did very well. Stinson began introducing me to his circle of friends, and before long I was working with professional athletes and celebrities, managing their name brands. I was also recruited to a bigger corporation as an executive vice president. In 2008, I decided to go out on my own and build my own company.

Entrepreneurship Pays Off

I cofounded Verve Systems LLC in 2018 with my partner, Kiran RajBhandary (aka Raj). We have products coming to market in 2020 that will change people’s lives in sports and recreation. While Raj and I were working on those products, in early 2019 the Farm Bill was passed, legalizing hemp and CBD products across the United States. I knew what CBD was doing to help our veterans escape the over-medication of prescription pills and that it was saving lives. We looked at all the healing properties of CBD and we created three lines of products: Athletic, for athletes of all levels; Veteran, for our veteran community, to offer an alternative to prescription medications; and Neuro, which focuses on helping individuals with Parkinson’s disease, Down syndrome, autism, and the epileptic community. It was amazing to see the results of what CBD was doing to help these communities. We prepare our products with the highest levels of CBD, so the user will get a better ROI for their investment when they use Verve products.

My Advice to Veterans

My advice to other veterans who want to pursue an entrepreneurial career is to do your research.

Start volunteering in the civilian sector while you’re still serving. Build your personal brand and build your personal relationships. Even if you’ve served 20 years in the military, that doesn’t ensure that you’ll be given the opportunity to start at the top with a private company. We forget that people who are mid-level managers and executives have also worked 20+ years to reach their current position, too. The number one thing I’d advise you to do is just get yourself hired at a company and get to work! Come early, stay late and you’ll discover as I did that cream always rises to the top!

If you want to learn more about Tim or Verve Forever products, visit verveforever.com

RedWhiteandCool Program Draws Vets into Refrigeration Industry

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Five RedWhiteandColl founders stand in line together smiling

The Refrigerating Engineers and Technicians Association (RETA) and Smithfield Foods, Inc. are pleased to announce RedWhiteandCool, an initiative focused on recruiting, training and hiring transitioning military veterans into the natural refrigeration industry as refrigeration technicians.

“There is a shortage of skilled labor in our country, and the commercial and natural refrigeration industry is not exempt,” said Lois Stirewalt of RETA. “There are currently more than 40,000 jobs open nationally for refrigeration technicians. At the same time, many veterans remain unemployed once they transition to civilian live. RedWhiteandCool is taking action to address this very issue.”

The RedWhiteandCool program will work hand in hand with the Department of Defense and transitioning military personnel, family members and veterans to recruit them into the commercial refrigeration industry. The partnership, administered by RETA’s non-profit arm— RETA-Training Institute (RETA-TI)—in conjunction with the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, is the organization’s newest Career Skills Program (CSP).

Transitioning military veterans met with program staff during an information session in February to learn more about the training program and refrigeration industry. Participants will receive certification testing at the end of the program and have the opportunity to interview for a career with Smithfield Foods as part of the company’s veteran hiring initiative.

“Supporting the men and women who have served our country is core to who we are as an American company,” said Keira Lombardo, executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance for Smithfield Foods and president of the Smithfield Foundation. “We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans; this training and transition program is just one way we demonstrate our appreciation.”

For more information, please visit: www.RETA.com and/or www.smithfieldfoods.com

Photo:
Bruce Owens, Director, Infrastructure Engineering (Smithfield Foods); Clarence Scott, Talent Acquisition Specialist (Smithfield Foods); Lois Stirewalt (RETA); Jim Barron (RETA executive director); Troy Vandenberg, Military Talent Acquisition Manager (Smithfield Foods)

Marine Corps Marathon canceled for first time in 45-year history because of pandemic

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large group of Marine Corps marathon runners

The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed yet another event for long-distance running enthusiasts.

The Marine Corps Marathon, with its picturesque course that takes runners through some of the most historic parts of Arlington, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., will not be held in person in 2020 for the first time in its 45-year history. The main event had been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 25.

“We explored various approaches to safely execute a live event and held numerous meetings with Marine Corps leadership, local government and public health officials,” said Rick Nealis, director of the Marine Corps Marathon Organization (MCMO) in a statement. “We understand this is disappointing news for many, but we could no longer envision a way to gather together in compliance with safety guidelines.”

Race organizers will instead offer participants opportunities to register and complete distances for certification via the Marine Marathon website.

“Health and safety are our top priorities during this challenging time,” said Libby Garvey, Arlington County Board Chair. “The Marine Corps Marathon is a treasured event and tradition in our community that Arlingtonians look forward to each year. As we celebrate the race’s 45th anniversary this year, we will be enthusiastically and virtually cheering on each runner. We can’t wait to welcome these dedicated athletes and fans back to Arlington in person in 2021.”

Continue on to USA Today to read the complete article.

Navy Announces First Black Female Tactical Aircraft Pilot in 110 Years of Aviation

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Lt. Madeline Swegle standing in front of NAVY aircraft in uniform smiling

Lt. Madeline Swegle is soaring to new heights in the U.S. Navy as she will soon become the service’s first Black female fighter pilot.

On Thursday, the Chief of Naval Air Training congratulated Swegle on Twitter for “completing the Tactical Air (Strike) aviator syllabus,” praising her with a “BZ,” meaning Bravo Zulu or well done.

“Swegle is the @USNavy’s first known Black female TACAIR pilot and will receive her Wings of Gold later this month. HOOYAH!” the tweet read.

Along with the message, the post included two pictures of Swegle wearing her pilot’s uniform.

In one of the images, Swegle smiles next to a T-45C Goshawk training aircraft and in another photo, she is seen exiting the plane after completing her undergraduate syllabus.

According to military newspaper Stars and Stripes, the Virginia native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

Swegle is currently assigned to the Redhawks of Training Squadron 21 in Kingsville, Texas, and will be awarded her wings of gold during a ceremony on July 31, according to the Navy.

Rear Adm. Paula D. Dunn, the Navy’s vice chief of information, also applauded Swegle on social media, writing that she is “very proud” of the graduate. “Go forth and kick butt,” she wrote.

Swegle’s sister shared the post on Twitter, writing, “Just my older sister being a boss everyday of her life.”

“Proud of her doesn’t even cover it,” her sibling added.

Continue on to People to read the complete article.

Former IT Specialist, Navy Reservist Says Background Will Aid Success in New Career as Small-Business Owner

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Brian Notestein headshot

(Colorado Springs, CO)—Having already enjoyed successful stints as an IT specialist and Navy reservist, Brian Notestein is more than prepared for his next venture as one of the newest franchise owners with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®, the No. 1 home inspection company in North America.

Launching operations in July, the Colorado Springs resident will serve homebuyers and sellers throughout El Paso, Teller and Pueblo counties.

Notestein, who previously spent 20 years in IT and 24 years as a Navy reservist, expects that experience to play an important role in his new position as a small business owner with the most respected brand in the home inspection industry. “My previous experience in customer service and support, resolving tough problems and learning and working with new technology, will be beneficial to me in my role with Pillar To Post Home Inspectors as I help new homebuyers in understanding what to look for in purchasing a new home,” Notestein said.

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for more than 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked for 23 years on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its eighth consecutive year as No. 1 in its category on that coveted ranking. In addition, the company has 5-Star status with VetFran, a program offered by the International Franchise Association that provides discounted franchise fees to veterans. “I chose to partner with an established and successful company like Pillar To Post Home Inspectors in order to follow a proven system that essentially removes the trial and error processes that could be expected by going it alone,” Notestein said.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are more than 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® for 23 years in a row, the past eight years as No.1 in Category. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com. To inquire about a franchise, go to www.pillartopostfranchise.com.

Marine Corps veteran catches 3-year-old dropped from burning building

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U.S. Marine Phillip Blanks sitting in a car smiling

Catching a child who was dropped from a burning building was just Phillip Blanks doing his job.

The U.S. Marine Corps veteran and former football player at Kalamazoo Central High School doesn’t want special recognition for helping save a 3-year-old boy from an apartment fire in Phoenix, Arizona. Blanks, a body guard today, said protecting others is just part of his job.

Blanks credits his training as a Marine and security officer and instincts for his reaction.

“Ultimately, this is my job,” Blanks said. “It was all fast, it was a blur. It was tunnel vision as I was running. I didn’t see anything but the baby.”

Blanks, 28, caught the young boy who was dropped from an apartment balcony Friday, July 3.

According to ABC15 in Arizona, the boy and an 8-year-old girl were both taken to the hospital with injuries. The children’s mother died in the fire, ABC15 said.

Blanks was captured on video helping to save the boy’s life.

The video was shared by WWMT’s Andy Pepper.

The Kalamazoo native served four years in the military after completing one year at Kalamazoo Valley Community College, Blanks said in an interview with MLive. Prior to college, he played four years as a wide receiver and linebacker at Kalamazoo Central.

He moved to Arizona about a year ago and currently works in executive protection, or as a body guard, he said. He was at a friend’s apartment for a workout Friday morning when he heard people yelling outside and he jumped into action, Blanks said.

“I wasn’t able to grab my shoes,” Blank said. “I ran down the stairs barefoot…” and then he started looking to see who needed help.

“As I was running, I see the baby getting ready to be tossed out of the patio,” Blanks said. “Next thing you know, he’s helicoptering in the air and I catch him.”

Blanks said the child’s foot was injured in the fall but that his head and major organs were protected.

Continue on to Stars and Stripes to read the complete article.

This Former Manufacturing Executive and Veteran Credits Military Skills for Foundation for His Pillar To Post Home Inspectors Business

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Larry Presby stands in fron of his Pillar To Post Home Inspectors work vehicle

(DALLAS, TX)—Larry Presby, Dallas resident and veteran, recently launched operations as a franchisee with the No. 1 home inspection company in North America, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors. He services Collin County in North Texas which includes sections of Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Frisco, and many other small rural towns and cities.  The former manufacturing executive and veteran turned his attention to detail into a new career that can benefit others.

“I served in the 18th Combat Engineer Brigade in Europe,” says Presby. “Looking back on my time in the service, I realize that many building blocks were established to provide me the foundation I used to succeed. Teamwork and systems are two of the key parameters that I took with me through my corporate career and now guide me in developing my home inspection business.”

“After making a home purchase, I became aware of the importance of a quality home inspection. The bare bones home inspection report I received did not highlight numerous issues and cost me many agonizing hours and dollars which launched a new path of interest. As a result of my new knowledge and countless hours in remodeling and construction, I became my family and friends’ advisor when reading their inspection reports,” said Presby.  “After being in the corporate world for many years, it was time to devote myself to another passion of helping others. As a home inspector I know I can fulfill this. I want to make sure people can make informed decisions about their home purchase which will becomea place in which they will create their safe haven.”

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the brand to which more than three million families have turned to for over 25 years to be their trusted advisor when buying or selling a home. Consistently ranked for 23 years on Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual Franchise500®, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is enjoying its eighth consecutive year as No. 1 in its category on that coveted ranking. In addition, the company has 5-Star status with VetFran, a program offered by the International Franchise Association that provides discounted franchise fees to veterans.

A professional evaluation both inside and outside the home is at the core of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors’ service. Pillar To Post Home Inspectors input data and digital photos into a computerized report. All information is provided to clients in a customized binder for easy reference, allowing homebuyers or sellers to make confident, informed decisions.

About Pillar To Post Home Inspectors®
Founded in 1994, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is the largest home inspection company in North America with home offices in Toronto and Tampa. There are more than 600 franchises located in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. The company has ranked in Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise500® for 23 years in a row, the past eight years as No.1 in Category. Long-term plans include adding 500 to 600 new franchisees over the next five years. For further information, please visit www.pillartopost.com. To inquire about a franchise, go to www.pillartopostfranchise.com

FATHER SOLDIER SON—WATCH THE TRAILER!

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FATHER SOLDIER SON promo poster featuring three side views of a child, teen and father in uniform

Duty. Country. Family. From The New York Times comes a documentary 10 years in the making. FATHER SOLDIER SON releases globally on Netflix this month.

This intimate documentary from The New York Times follows a former platoon sergeant and his two young sons over almost a decade, chronicling his return home after a serious combat injury in Afghanistan.

Originating as part of a 2010 project on a battalion’s yearlong deployment, reporters-turned-filmmakers Catrin Einhorn and Leslye Davis stuck with the story to trace the longterm effects of military service on a family.

At once a verité portrait of ordinary people living in the shadow of active duty and a longitudinal survey of the intergenerational cycles of military service, FATHER SOLDIER SON is a profound and deeply personal exploration of the meaning of sacrifice, purpose, duty and American manhood in the aftermath of war.

FATHER SOLDIER SON releases globally on Netflix July 17.

Directed and Produced by:
Leslye Davis & Catrin Einhorn

WATCH THE TRAILER!

2020 NCOA Military Vanguard Award Recipients

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NCOA seal-and logo

The Military Vanguard Award of the Non Commissioned Officers Association is awarded annually to a single member from each of the Armed Services who has distinguished himself or herself through acts of heroism.

The selection is done through a rigorous nominating and screening process within each of the military services.

These awards commemorate and honor an enlisted Medal of Honor recipient from each branch of service.

As it says on Military service is based on a sense of duty, on the assumption that the common good is more important than the individual.

The actions meriting the receipt of the 2020 NCOA Military Vanguard Awards personify the spirit and intent of this most prestigious recognition.

 
 
Recipients of NCOA’s 2020 Military Vanguard Awards were announced via a Zoom Meeting on June 24.

Read the accounts of the heroic actions of our 2020 Military Vanguard Award recipients:

SSG BENJAMIN J. ROBERTS – US ARMY https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USA.pdf
US ARMY Vanguard Award

 
 
SSGT SAMUEL S. MULLINS – US MARINES https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USMC.pdf
US MARINE Vanguard Award
 
 
SO1 MARK T. PALMER – US NAVY https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USN.pdf

 
 
CMSGT JAMES M. TRAFICANTE – US AIR FORCE https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USAF.pdf
US AIR FORCE Vanguard Award
 
 
EM2 DANIEL M. PETERS – US COAST GUARD https://ncoausa.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/VG-Story-USCG-1.pdf
US CG Vanguard Award

Meet the Active Pearl Harbor Veteran that Just Turned 100

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veteran witha huge grin in a shriners hat waving with U.S. flag in the background

On the morning of December 7, 1941, in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Adone “Cal” Calderone had just finished his breakfast aboard the USS West Virginia, when his ship was attacked by eight torpedoes and four bombs from a Japanese air raid.

The 21-year-old soldier was trapped and wounded on the ship from the attacks, taking shrapnel to the face along with other injuries. “The doctors wanted to keep me longer,” Calderone said of his injuries, “I wanted to get back out there.”

Calderone would go on to serve the Navy for a total of six years.

Now a World War II veteran and a survivor of the Pearl Harbor bombings, Calderone resides in Stark County, Ohio, where he just celebrated his 100th birthday.

Calderone enjoys music, driving, staying active, and sharing his experiences from the war. “Dad really gets around,” Calderone’s son, Greg, told Stars and Stripes. “It’s amazing that he’s 100 years old.” Calderone’s 100th birthday officially makes him the oldest known living Pearl Harbor survivor.

“If feels good to be 100,” Calderone said, “It’s so nice, very nice.” Calderone spent the day celebrating with about a dozen of his family members and friends, including his wife of 75 years, Carrie, at a surprise birthday gathering in front of his house.

When asked what the secret was to his 100 years, Calderone gave a smile and reported without hesitation, “Good wine.”

Air Force general confirmed as first black chief of a U.S. military service

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General Charles Q. Brown in uniform

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Gen. Charles Q. Brown to be the next Air Force chief of staff, making him the first African American leader of a military service as the Pentagon and the country grapple with a raft of racial issues.

The confirmation also makes Brown the second African American officer to sit on the Joint Chiefs of Staff since Chairman Gen. Colin Powell.

The 98-to-0 vote was a blowout approval for the four-star general. Vice President Mike Pence presided over the historic vote.

President Donald Trump, who nominated Brown in March, hailed the general on Twitter.

“My decision to appoint @usairforce General Charles Brown as the USA’s first-ever African American military service chief has now been approved by the Senate,” Trump said, though the tweet came before the confirmation vote. “A historic day for America! Excited to work even more closely with Gen. Brown, who is a Patriot and Great Leader!”

Brown’s nomination had been in the works for months, yet the vote came amid nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody. Top Air Force officials led the way in speaking out over the past week and calling for dialogue on racism. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright, the service’s top enlisted leader, became the first senior military official to speak out, and was followed by outgoing Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein.

Brown, who is currently the commander of Pacific Air Forces, delivered an emotional message Friday about his experience as a black airman.

In addition to becoming the first African American service chief, Brown will be the most senior African American Pentagon leader since Powell chaired the Joint Chiefs from 1989 to 1993.

“I’m thinking about how full I am with emotion, not just for George Floyd but for the many African Americans that have suffered the same fate as George Floyd,” Brown said. “I’m thinking about a history of racial issues and my own experiences that didn’t always sing of liberty and equality.

“Without clear-cut answers, I just want to have the wisdom and knowledge to lead during difficult times like these,” Brown said of his nomination to be the service’s top officer. “I want the wisdom and knowledge to lead, participate in and listen to necessary conversations on racism, diversity and inclusion.”

Continue on to Politico to read the complete article.

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*Please be sure to check event websites for latest updates on postponements or cancellations due to COVID-19 precautions.

Upcoming Events

  1. Women in Federal Law Enforcement Leadership Training
    August 3, 2020 - August 6, 2020
  2. SkyBall XVIII By Airpower Foundation
    August 21, 2020 - August 22, 2020
  3. 2020 American Society for Health Care Human Resources Association Event
    August 22, 2020 - August 25, 2020
  4. Seventh Annual Warrior Community Integration Symposium
    August 25, 2020 - August 27, 2020
  5. Navy Gold Coast Small Business Procurement Event
    August 31, 2020 - September 2, 2020