Soldier Becomes Angel to Injured and Abused Cat, Wants Him to be Her Companion Animal

LinkedIn
Bubba the cat poses with soldier standing behind her

While she didn’t set out to be, Army Sergeant Rode became an angel to a cat while serving in the Middle East. She’s on a mission to help Paws of War with the costs of rescuing her cat, which she named Bubba, back to the states with her since she has received new orders.

It’s a mission that Paws of War can help her pull off, but only with the support of the community. This type of effort takes a village, and the organization is asking people to support Sgt. Rode, who is serving her country.

“This is a story you can’t help but to love and want to get behind,” explains Dereck Cartright, a disabled veteran who is the stateside logistics coordinator at Paws of War. “Sgt. Rode saved Bubba, but there’s only so much she can do on her own”.

When Sgt. Rode first saw Bubba, he had given up. Bloody, frail, and injured, the cat ran from everyone. It was clear that he had been fighting for his life for a long time. Sgt. Rode knew she had to help. For days, she left food, waiting nearby to make sure he ate. Initially, he cried and backed away when he saw her, but eventually, he grew to trust her and allowed her to sit within just a few feet while he frantically ate the food she left.

Slowly but surely, Bubba allowed her to get a little closer until, finally, Sgt. Rode was able to touch him. However, what she discovered horrified her. Old scars mixed in with new wounds that covered Bubba’s body. He had been through a lot and was timid, but once he felt the kind touch of Sgt. Rode, he immediately began purring, showing her the love and affection he had never been shown. She became Bubba’s angel, and he became her greatest joy while serving overseas, and they were essentially inseparable.

Worry came back to her when she received new orders to head home, and it was clear that she would not be able to take Bubba with her. She couldn’t stand the thought of leaving him behind to fend for himself or to try to find someone else to provide him with the love and care that he has grown accustomed to with her. When she heard about the work that Paws of War does, helping soldiers to get their pets back to the U.S., and she turned to it for assistance.

“Bubba is such a wonderful cat, and he greets me every time he sees me and purrs loudly whenever I pet him,” says Sgt. Rode. “I have formed such a great bond with him, it took me so long to gain his trust, and I can’t fathom the thought of leaving him behind once I get deployed back to the U.S. He has been a wonderful companion and provides me so much comfort when I need it most. I could not leave this cat behind to suffer and die. He trusts me, and I won’t let him down.”

Paws of War is seeking the support of the community to cover the costs in order to bring Bubba back to the states to live out his life with Sgt. Rode. While the organization has helped many soldiers bring their rescued animals back, it’s a mission that is costly. Soldiers tend to rescue stray dogs and cats, and they form bonds with them that help them to find comfort during their time of deployment. With the help of donations from the community, they are able to cover the expenses that are involved in such a mission.

The organization has helped so many soldiers with this type of mission that it has created a strong network of support. It’s that network that helps them to navigate through the challenges and logistics of relocating a pet overseas, and to pay for the care, paperwork, and flight that is involved in the mission.

To learn more about Sgt. Rode and Bubba or to make a donation to help with the rescue mission, visit the site at: https://pawsofwar.networkforgood.com/projects/127816-help-save-bubba.

In addition to helping soldiers relocate their pets, Paws of War also rescues dogs, provides them with proper training, and then pairs them with veterans who need service animals, all free of charge. It also helps soldiers bring dogs and cats they rescued while serving overseas to safety in the U.S. Those who would like to learn more about supporting Paws of War and its mission can go online to: http://pawsofwar.org.

About Paws of War
Paws of War is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides assistance and a wide range of programs to active, retired and disabled military members. To learn more about Paws of War and the programs provided or to make a donation, visit its site at: http://pawsofwar.org.

Great Jobs for Veterans You May Not Have Considered

LinkedIn
air traffic controller looking out tower wimndow with headphones on

Law enforcement, IT management and the medical field are all career fields that you’ve been told are great for veterans. And while these jobs are fantastic for transitioning veterans in almost every way, they are far from the only options veterans can pursue in their post-military life. Suppose you’re looking for a career different from the “veteran norm” while still providing job security and reasonable salaries. In that case, one of these unique career profiles might be for you:

Dental Hygienist

Job Description: Dental hygienists examine patients for signs of oral diseases, such as gingivitis, and provide preventive care, including oral hygiene.

They also educate patients about oral health. Their job tasks usually include teeth cleaning, taking x-rays, assessing oral health and documenting patient care.

Desired Skillset:

  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Dexterity

Education: Dental hygienists typically need an associate degree in dental hygiene; they may also get a bachelor’s degree. Programs usually take three years to complete and offer laboratory, clinical and classroom instruction. Areas of study include anatomy, medical ethics and periodontics — the study of gum disease.

Annual Salary: $77,810

Air Traffic Controller

Job Description: Air traffic controllers coordinate the movement of aircraft to maintain safe distances between them. They manage the flow of aircraft into and out of the airport airspace, guide pilots during takeoff and landing and monitor aircraft as they travel through the skies.

Desired Skillset:

  • Communication
  • Multi-tasking
  • Decision-making skills
  • Math proficiency

Education: Candidates who want to become air traffic controllers typically need an associate or bachelor’s degree, often from an AT-CTI program. Bachelor’s degree fields vary; examples include transportation, business or engineering. Other candidates must have three years of progressively responsible work experience, have completed four years of college or have a combination of both.

Annual Salary: $129,750

School Principal

Job Description: Elementary, middle and high school principals oversee all school operations, including daily activities. They coordinate curriculums, manage staff and provide students with a safe and productive learning environment. In public schools, principals also implement standards and programs set by the school district and state and federal regulations. They evaluate and prepare reports based on these standards by assessing their school’s student achievement and teacher performance.

Desired Skillset:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Communication

Education: Principals typically need a master’s degree in education leadership or education administration. These master’s degree programs teach prospective principals how to manage staff, create budgets, set goals and work with parents and the community. Principals also need teaching experience.

Annual Salary: $98,870

Wind Turbine Technician

Job Description: Wind turbine service technicians, also known as windtechs, install, maintain and repair wind turbines. They are usually responsible for inspecting wind turbine towers’ exterior and physical integrity, performing maintenance and repairs and collecting turbine data.

Desired Skillset:

  • Physical strength
  • Physical stamina
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Detail-oriented

Education: Most windtechs learn their trade by attending technical schools or community colleges, where they typically complete certificates in wind energy technology. However, some workers choose to earn an associate degree. Windtechs usually acquire knowledge in mechanical systems, computers, electrical and hydraulic maintenance, first aid, rescue and safety and CPR.

Annual Salary: $56,260

Railroad Workers

Job Description: Railroad workers ensure that passenger and freight trains run on time and travel safely. Some workers drive trains, some coordinate the activities of the trains and others operate signals and switches in the rail yard.

Desired Skillset:

  • Customer-service skills
  • Hearing and visual ability
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Leadership skills

Education: Rail companies typically require workers to have a high school diploma or equivalent. However, employers may prefer to hire workers with postsecondary education, such as coursework, a certificate, or an associate or bachelor’s degree. Locomotive engineers and conductors must be certified by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

Annual Salary: $64,150

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Trade-schools.net

U.S. Veterans Magazine Wins Two Awards in One Week

LinkedIn
Tonya Kinsey smiles while holding award in her hands

U.S. Veterans Magazine, the premier resource magazine for transitioning service members, service-disabled veterans, veteran business owners and their spouses and families, has been awarded two prestigious awards in just one week.

The first award was received on November 7th from Veterans Legal Institute (VLI). Each year, VLI reviews the contributions given by their partners and chooses a group to recognize for their continual support of veterans. This year, U.S. Veterans Magazine was the recipient of VLI’s Community Partner of the Year award for its dedication and contribution to veterans.

The second award was received just a few days later, on November 9th from the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC). Every year, the Board of Officers at NVBDC reviews the activity of their corporations, members, certified veterans and partners, and recognizes individuals and groups for their dedication to going above and beyond to support veterans. This year, U.S. Veterans Magazine and its Partnerships Division Lead, Tonya Kinsey, were the recipients of the Media Partner of the Year Award.

“I am extremely proud of the work U.S. Veterans Magazine is doing through important organizations that value our veterans and give them vital resources when they most need them,” Kinsey stated of the honor, “I have worked closely with both organizations to help them expand their platform and highlight their stories.  We truly value their partnerships and are honored to have received recognition from both organizations!”

“We are so honored to receive these awards from these two veteran-focused organizations,” U.S. Veterans Magazine Publisher and Founder, Mona Lisa Faris, said of the awards. “Our partnership with each of these organizations works so well because our mission statements align. We were created to help veterans advance and both VLI and the NVBDC have the same goal.”

About U.S. Veterans Magazine

U.S. Veterans Magazine (USVM) is the premier resource magazine for transitioning service members, service-disabled veterans, veteran business owners and their spouses and families. USVM is the link between the qualified students, career and business candidates from the ranks of our nation’s veteran organizations, educational institutions, corporate America and the federal government. We provide our readers with relevant and timely information about employment, recruitment, supplier diversity, education, wellness and benefits. We recognize the immense value veterans offer as employees, and link job seekers with companies eager to hire them. Our publication connects entrepreneurs with opportunities to grow their businesses, and for those seeking educational prospects and scholarships, we share the information they need to support their academic success. Visit our official website at https://usveteransmagazine.com/

About Veterans Legal Institute (VLI)

Veterans Legal Institute® (VLI) is an organization that provides pro bono legal assistance to homeless, disabled, at risk and low-income service members with opportunities for healthcare, housing, education, employment and more. VLI is dedicated to help current and former service members foster a sense of self-sufficiency for the future. To learn more, visit their official website at https://www.vetslegal.com/

About the National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)

The National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is the original Veteran-Owned Business Certification organization developed by veterans, for veterans. The NVBDC is dedicated to providing credible and reliable certifying authority for veteran-owned businesses of all sizes to ensure that valid documentation exists for veteran status, ownership and operational control. The organization even offers a FASTRACK process, allowing businesses who are already certified with other certifiers to qualify for Veteran-Owned Business Certification in as little as 30 days. To learn more, visit their website at https://nvbdc.org/

A Letter From the Editor–What’s Your Legacy?

LinkedIn
Retired Marine Paul Masi pauses by the name of his high school classmate, Robert Zwerlein.

By Danielle Jackola

As we honor the 40th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, I had the privilege of speaking with Jan Scruggs and learning about “The Story Behind the Wall” (page 12). Our conversation prompted some introspection, and I considered my legacy.

As a MilSpouse, I have dedicated my time and treasure to serve our military and military families. My husband retired five years ago. I have continued as a mentor and volunteer by connecting veterans and their spouses to employment opportunities.

There are many ways people are called to a life of service.

In our Veterans Day issue, we celebrate you and commend your service to our country. Many of you continue to serve our military, veteran organizations and your communities in various capacities, working to improve the world.

As The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley has had an enduring impact on music and his fans. When Presley was drafted into the Army in 1957, he was eager to prove to naysayers that he could make it as a Soldier. He was “proud of his service” and continues to be the most famous veteran. In our cover story, we reflect on Presley’s time in the Army on page 86 and recognize other “Famous Veterans Throughout History” on page 64.

In this issue, we share Hot Jobs on page 10 for those seeking employment or a career change. For business owners taking the “First Steps on the Road to Certification” to expand their business, visit page 60 to get started. The “PACT Act Passed,” and we share everything you need to know on page 126, including how to file a claim.

On Veterans Day and throughout the year, U.S. Veterans Magazine honors you. We stand in gratitude for your commitment, bravery and the sacrifices you have made in service to our country.

— Danielle Jackola
Editor, U.S. Veterans Magazine
Sr. Manager of Veteran Affairs

Image caption: Retired Marine Paul Masi pauses by the name of his high school classmate, Robert Zwerlein.
Photo credit: Tom Williams/Cq-Roll Call, Inc. Via Getty Images

FOX Nation’s 4th Annual Patriot Awards Ceremony Benefitting the American Red Cross is Tonight

LinkedIn
Fox Nation Patriot Awards

By Kellie Speed

FOX Nation is hosting its fourth annual Patriot Awards at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida, tonight. You can catch the patriotic show live at 7 p.m. ET on FOX Nation, and it will also be offered in a repeat presentation on FOX News Channel on Sunday, November 27, at 10 p.m. ET.

Each year, the awards show honors standout Americans who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in support of this great nation. The event gives true American heroes the recognition they deserve.

“It is the awards show that America needs and that America deserves,” said FOX & Friends Weekend co-host and Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Pete Hegseth, who will return for his fourth year as the emcee.

Hegseth will join FOX News Media personalities Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Jesse Watters, Greg Gutfeld, Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, Brian Kilmeade, Judge Jeanine Pirro, the cast of The Five, Harris Faulkner, Will Cain, Rachel Campos-Duffy, Dan Bongino, John Rich, Mike Rowe, Nancy Grace, Lawrence Jones, Johnny Joey Jones and Abby Hornacek.

This year’s Patriot Awards include the Most Valuable Patriot Award, Heroism Award, Service to Veterans Award and Back the Blue Award. Additionally, The Five (weekdays, 5 p.m. ET), Tucker Carlson Tonight (weekdays, 8 p.m. ET) and Gutfeld! (weekdays, 11 p.m. ET) will present live shows at the venue.

Last year’s Patriot Award recipients included “Most Valuable Patriot” Olympic Gold Medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock; Award for Heroism recipient Lt. Col. (Ret.), Former Green Beret Scott Mann for his work in Afghanistan with Task Force Pineapple; “Modern Warrior” recipient Army Sergeant First Class John Goudie, and the “Courage” award recipient posthumously awarded to Todd Beamer in United Airlines Flight 93 (accepted by his parents David and Peggy Beamer).

They also paid a humbling tribute to the nation’s 13 fallen heroes killed on August 26, 2021, during the United States withdrawal from Afghanistan – Marine Corps Lance Corporal David L. Espinoza, Marine Corps Sergeant Nicole L. Gee, Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Darin T. Hoover, Army Staff Sergeant Ryan C. Knauss, Marine Corps Corporal Hunter Lopez, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Rylee J. McCollum, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Dylan R. Merola, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Kareem M. Nikoui, Marine Corps Sergeant Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Marine Corps Corporal Humberto A. Sanchez, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Jared M. Schmitz, Navy Hospital Corpsman Maxton W. Soviak and Marine Corps Corporal Daegan W. Page.

Keep an eye out in the next issue of U.S. Veterans Magazine for a full feature on the event.

For more information, be sure to visit nation.foxnews.com

Is the MIlitary “Too Woke” to Recruit?

LinkedIn
A drill instructor gives instructions to new soldiers

The Army missed its recruiting goal by about 15,000 new soldiers in 2022, coming up 25% short of its goal at a time when each of the services were struggling to meet their benchmarks.

Military officials worry that all of the branches have had to reach deep into their pools of delayed entry applicants, a move that puts them behind in recruiting for the new year.

Military recruiters have leaned on tried-and-true factors to explain the challenges, including low unemployment and a dearth of applicants up to physical, educational and behavioral standards.

But the truth is, no one keeps detailed data on what’s stopping America’s youth from signing up. Experts and senior military leaders point to the perennial factors of competition from the private sector and a dwindling number of young Americans both qualified and interested in military service. But what they don’t have much information on is why that propensity is going down, and whether the country is undergoing an ideological shift in attitude toward military service.

Read the Fulll Story on Army Times

Navy Gold Coast Conference 2022 – Event Wrap Up

LinkedIn
Event floor with large screen and people watching the speaker facing away from the camera - NDIA Gold Coast 2022

This year’s Annual Department of the Navy Gold Coast Conference, held September 6-8, 2022, focused on Thriving as a Department of the Navy Small Business in a World of Global Challenges.”

In its 34th year, the Navy Gold Coast Conference is the nation’s premier Navy-centered small business procurement event and the only procurement event co-sponsored by the Department of the Navy’s (DON) Office of Small Business Programs. The Navy’s primary purpose in co-sponsoring the event with the San Diego Chapter of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is to educate, guide and assist businesses in providing vital goods and services to meet government needs, particularly in the Navy and Department of Defense.

Navy Gold Coast Conference event photo of a small business defense contractor at a table with a woman who works for the navy to help grow his businessThis year’s Navy Gold Coast Conference attracted over 1,700 defense industrial base attendees, and almost 250 booths lined the exhibit hall with representatives from government acquisition offices and small, medium and large businesses. Many of these are owned and operated by service-disabled veterans (SDVOSBs) or participants in the federal government’s 8(a) Business Development Program. The federal government’s goal is to award at least 3 percent of all federal contracting dollars to SDVOSBs and 5 percent to disadvantaged businesses each year, and the Navy Gold Coast Conference

This year’s Navy Gold Coast Conference sponsors included Bank of America (Platinum), Unanet and Deltek (Diamond), Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, L3 Harris, BAE Systems, Raytheon Technologies (Gold) and over 40 small business sponsors.

Navy Gold Coast Conference photo of a large group of people standing and talking to each other in the event islesnavyNavyThe Keynote presentation was from the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), the Hon. Carlos Del Toro. Additional presentations included a discussion on Small Business and the Future by the Hon. Isabella Casillas Guzman, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA); a briefing on Getting Started in Government Contracting from Mr. Michael Sabellico, Senior Procurement Advisor of the San Diego Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC); and a round table discussion on DON Supply Chain Readiness including Mr. Jimmy Smith (SES), Director, DON Office of Small Business Programs (OSBP) and RADM Peter Stamatopoulous, Commander of Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP).

In addition to professional networking and small business matchmaking, a wide variety of issues affecting small business federal contracting were covered, including Exporting, Accounting Requirements, Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR), Mentor Protégé Programs, Racial Equality and Support for Underserved Communities, Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) and How to do Business with the DON and Other Government Agencies

Navy Gold Coast Conference is also the venue for the NDIA San Diego Chapter’s Twice a Citizen Award. This award is given to Reserve Service or National Guard members from the San Diego Area. Nominees demonstrate leadership, self-sacrifice, commitment to service and outstanding overall performance. Nominees must also have provided exceptional professional performance while participating in contingency/support activities outside drill weekends. This year’s winners are Chief Petty Officer Joshua R. Berman, Chief Petty Officer Joseph A. Pisano, Chief Melanie A. Maldonado and Commander Ron Giusso.

Next year’s Gold Coast is scheduled for 26-28 July 2023 in San Diego.

Focusing on ‘What Is Real’

LinkedIn
Annie Nelson and Seth Griffith stand in front of Aerial Recovery Group sign

By Annie Nelson

Sitting across the table from him, you see a handsome well trained, dark-haired dark-eyed, well-built man. Staring off into the windows with a gaze I could tell was of a land far away. Former Air Force TACP officer Seth Griffith is at dinner with friends, but his heart and thoughts are back in Ukraine, where he just returned from. I have the honor of calling this veteran hero —  friend and wanted to share his story, especially since he and so many of his brothers in arms are still serving as civilians in the war zone of Ukraine. Serving not in the fight but in the humanitarian rescue of the children caught up in this war. Saving the orphans. However, to understand how Seth got to the front lines of Ukraine, you should first know his journey.

Seth grew up in the suburbs of St Louis, Mo. He chose the military path because he was in a place where he felt he needed to grow up. As an athlete, the military offered him a way to use his athletics and teamwork mentality to excel in a team environment.

His stepfather was in the Air Force and had always told him there were some unique jobs the Air Force could offer him, and he should investigate them. He did just that, and the TACP job excited him. For those not familiar, a Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) officer directs lethal and nonlethal joint firepower anywhere, anytime battle calls for it. They are also the primary Air Force advisors to the U.S. Army, joint multinational and special operations ground force commanders for the integration of air, space and cyber power. They are considered Special Warfare Airmen. Seth felt he could go to Army schools and work alongside the combat arms side of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps — all of which got his blood pumping!

He served for just over 20 years before he retired, serving seven deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq between 2002 and 2012.

His transition away from this military into civilian life was a struggle. A struggle until now. Where he has landed into a new team! He struggled to connect with a lot of people in corporate America. “I met some great people, don’t get me wrong, but the mentality was a very different ‘team’ environment or lack thereof than I was used to. I excelled in each position but spent several years in the construction and homebuilding industry bouncing around, trying to find the right fit. Turns out if it wasn’t the fit, I just had other passions of serving.

Finding my current position with the Ariel Recovery Group has truly filled a void and brought fulfillment back into my professional life.”

Our conversation continued, and I decided to cross the bridge of PTS and ask if he had any challenges with it. Seth’s response was very candid.

I do. Triggers hit us all differently, and I do not use any PTS as an excuse for behaviors and dislike any victim mentalities. I knew what I was signing up for — volunteered. My triggers are centered around emotional numbness and past alcohol consumption. Deployments and crazy schedules, once you get home from deployments to keep you proficient for your next deployment date (that you sometimes knew before your current deployment was even complete), is a hard pace for someone who is struggling with PTS, mental or financial issues or adjusting to a divorce. And we do not want to miss the next deployment, so we underplay injuries so that we can go do our jobs when we are counted on.

I try to focus on “what is real” to power through. My amazing wife Jenna taught me that phrase and has provided me with a far better understanding of trauma and trauma-related responses than I had before. Living with PTS is very doable; you are newlywed with a new RIGHT job and thriving just proves you can succeed. You just have to keep the never-quit mentality and keep doing the work.

Now to Ukraine, how did you get there? Please tell me about the Ariel Recovery Group.

Aerial Recovery Group is comprised primarily of retired or separated special operations vets who are highly skilled, trained and have the outside-of-the-box mindset to rapidly deploy into sometimes very dynamic situations and be the ultimate humanitarian operators to deploy at a moment’s notice. We deployed to natural disasters like the earthquakes in Haiti last year, the flash flood in Waverly, Tenn., Hurricane Ida, the tornadoes in Mayfield, Ky. and anything we had the bandwidth to respond to.

We also respond to manmade disasters like the Afghanistan crisis that occurred late summer last year (we were very involved) and Ukraine. I’m currently back for my second deployment to rescue orphans and refugees from areas under attack and evacuate them into safe zones in the country where we can keep them secure and move them again quickly if the ground situation changes drastically from where it currently is.

What specifically is your role with the organization? I understand this organization is a nonprofit.

I am the Director of Disaster Response for Aerial Recovery Group/Aerial Recovery.

Seth, how did you guys decide to get involved in Ukraine?

Anytime there is an event in the world, we immediately look at how our company can go and serve. We have some very strong NGO partners, and we mutually support each other. In Ukraine, it was a no-brainer, just like Afghanistan was, to rapidly deploy and start saving lives. We already knew we would be getting involved in the crisis. Preexisting partnerships gave us an additional reason to be there so we could get in with the government and start rescuing orphans and anyone who wanted to be immediately evacuated from areas currently in high threat.

Last but not least, what is next for you?

Personally, I would love to travel more with my wife and family and unwind and unplug from the world a little bit. I love my job and have found a renewed purpose for me. In general, my family and friends have become my hobby, and I don’t necessarily see that as a bad thing. When your free time is limited, you make the most of it or at least try to after you’ve had a cool-off period.

So, if a buddy wants to go shooting, I go shooting. Hiking, count me in. Family dinner — that’s the priority hobby for that moment! But other than that, my hobbies are pretty much anything outdoors, or enjoying on, in or under water sports during the warm weather months or in the part of the world we are in at that minute. Lastly, and this is the one thing I really do just for me, football. I love the sport, and it’s a way for me to unplug from everything else for around three hours and be a big kid again.

Photo: Annie Nelson and Seth Griffith

‘A True Profile in Courage’

LinkedIn
Celebrity and former Army Ranger Noah Galloway poses for a portrait during the Tough Mudder's

By Kellie Speed

If ever there was a true profile in courage that is Noah Galloway’s story to tell.

While the U.S. Army veteran lost both his left arm above the elbow and left leg above the knee to an IED attack during Operation Iraqi Freedom, that hasn’t stopped him from pushing his own limits becoming a nationwide inspiration as a result.

Although his injuries certainly posed many unforeseen challenges and his life was forever changed, the Purple Heart recipient believes now he is mentally and physically stronger than ever.

“My mother always told me to join the military, but I never joined until I wanted to,” he said in a recent phone interview. “I told her if something happens, I chose this. I’ll never forget that conversation. When I got injured and I went through my depression that was the worst shape I had ever been in in my life. I wasn’t taking care of myself and that was a reflection of my whole life — I wasn’t being a good father; I wasn’t being a good husband or anything. It was my children who were the motivation for me to get back and start taking care of myself.

The first thing I did was change the way I was eating then I joined a 24-hour gym because I was embarrassed, and I think a lot of people can relate to that if they have never been into fitness. It’s hard to walk into a gym for the first time. I would go in at 2:00 in the morning because there were no books, magazines or anything on the internet that told you how to work out missing an arm and a leg. Actually, I would say that was a benefit because it motivated me, and I had to figure it out. I kind of fed off of that and I have met amputees from all over the world who told me they have seen my videos and pictures and that’s how they got into fitness. For me, that’s pure motivation to know that something I did inspired them, and it drives me to just keep wanting to do more and more. Getting back into shape was so critical with my recovery in accepting myself.”

In 2014, the Alabama native became the first amputee veteran to appear on the cover of Men’s Health. “When I was in the military, I used to say I wanted to be on the cover of Men’s Health because fitness has been a part of my life since I was 12 years old,” he said. After earning the magazine’s “Ultimate Guy” title, he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and later became a finalist on Dancing With The Stars.

Noah Galloway Book Signing For
Noah Galloway attends his book signing for “Living With No Excuses” at Barnes & Noble in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/FilmMagic)

“Once I went on Ellen, things just took off,” he told us. “As soon as that episode aired, I got phone calls from Survivor, which I was excited about, but I couldn’t do that because I have three kids who were young at the time, so I turned it down. When Dancing With The Stars called, I told them I had no dancing experience and had to stay in Alabama. They didn’t even hesitate. They said they would send a dancer to Birmingham where we would rehearse then they would fly me back and forth to LA for the live show. Then, I didn’t think I’d last long, but halfway through the season, I was still there. The fifth week, I did a dance to Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” and I did a one-arm lift and I got a standing ovation from all of the judges and the studio audience; it was incredible. I had veterans start reaching out to me, and that changed everything. But I didn’t become a better dancer.”

On September 16, Galloway’s No Excuses Charitable Fund is hosting their second annual charity golf tournament at Timberline Golf Club in Calera, Ala. with proceeds this year benefitting Homes for Our Troops.

“I know there are people who are more inspirational, but people reach out to me and say they got into fitness because of me,” Galloway said. “To know that you have done something, even if it’s for one person to improve their life, is just so motivating.”

To check out his book, Living With No Excuses: The Remarkable Rebirth of An American Soldier, visit noahgalloway.com.

1,000 Cups of Coffee: My Journey from Soldier to Civilian Employment

LinkedIn
Army Captain Reserve Ian Newell speaking into mic

By Army Captain Reserve Ian Newell

Approximately 62,000 active-duty Soldiers transition out of the U.S. Army every year. For me, that process began when I started my terminal leave in May 2021. After nearly a decade with the U.S. military, serving in Iraq, South Korea and Fort Hood, I finally found myself settling down in Austin, Texas. Although I had years of experience in leading global operations and project management, I still had no idea what I wanted to do, and I had the thought every transitioning Soldier experiences.

I need a job, and I need it now!

Thankfully, my father, Peter Newell, a successful Army officer turned entrepreneur, gave me solid advice: Be comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to reach your potential.

I started with a severe case of imposter syndrome, with the unshakable feeling that the skills and talents I accrued in my eight years in the Army wouldn’t translate to the civilian world. In units where commanders valued innovation, as in deployments, I exceeded expectations and helped drive mission success because I was able to try new approaches. But under other commanders, my ideas and abilities were limited to the rank on my chest. To quote a former commander the first time I had met him: “Defense Innovation is a 2030 vision which isn’t a real thing. If you care about this stuff, you should stop wasting time and get out of the military.”

Upon starting terminal leave, I began my journey of having conversations over “1,000 cups of coffee” to find my path.

Phase 1: Fact-Finding, Expanding Aperture, Discovering “Me”

(May to June: Cups of Coffee 1-250)

My first 100 conversations were a mess. I was all over the place, with no structure for who I was reaching out to or how to prepare or build relationships.

Army Captain Reserve Ian Newell with group of soldiers at awards presentation
Army Captain Reserve Ian Newell is presented with a military award

When I first transitioned, I thought that I had to go to UT Austin for an MBA because I loved Austin, Texas, and wanted to stay in the city. My first 10 conversations were with my family and close mentors I’ve known for years — the next 15 included leaders in military transition at UT Austin. For conversations 26-50, my network expanded from family friends to members of my dad’s company (BMNT) and startup founders who had launched the Hacking 4 Defense academic course. It became clear receiving an MBA was not the only way a transitioning officer could be successful in civilian life.

The following 200 coffees were incredibly difficult. Conversations 51-100 included tech VPs, startup founders and seasoned military officers about to transition themselves. A VP from a large tech company told me he would never hire me because my resume sounded like an “Army ******bag,” and a startup founder told me not to waste someone’s time by not doing research into the company and preparing questions.

I realized I needed to not only expand my education but to better prepare myself to answer people who look past my previous achievements and ask, “OK, what are you going to provide me now?” This led me to take my first few certification courses from Coursera. After completing the Google Project Manager certification, I dove headfirst into innovation, artificial intelligence and blockchain. And I dedicated myself to completing transition support services such as those provided by the COMMIT Foundation.

Those first 250 conversations helped me learn I was drawn to space and that my strengths lie in my ability to learn and innovate in complex environments rapidly. These realizations culminated in me applying for an internship with the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Phase 2: Transformational Phase

(July to September: Cups of Coffee 251-500)

It didn’t get any easier. I had depleted half of my savings and was starting a new internship in an unfamiliar field with the Air Force Research Laboratory, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to be when I “grew up.”

There were victories along the way — I received a full scholarship to U.C. Berkeley’s venture capital program and was accepted to AFRL’s SPECTRE fellowship. But it all suddenly stopped clicking. I had taken on way more than I could handle until one day, I sat on the floor of my closet, paralyzed with anxiety because I couldn’t choose an outfit to wear to a networking event. It was my “come to Jesus” moment.

Mental health is important in any transition into civilian life. But I ignored the signs and instead leaned into going out, eating poorly and working myself to exhaustion to try and manage the stress of transition without acknowledging what I was feeling.

To jumpstart my process, I signed up for local conferences I was interested in. Then, one evening after the Joint All Domain Command and Control conference, I headed to a local bar to get some work done for SpaceWERX. A group of men from the conference walked in, and I decided to introduce myself. A couple of beers and hours of conversation later, I had my first meaningful job offer in the artificial intelligence industry with a company called BigBear.ai, which uses AI and machine learning to facilitate data-driven decision support for government leaders.

Phase 3: Networking and Personal Growth

(September to January: Cups of Coffee 501-1,000+)

My number of “coffees” exponentially increased between September and January. I ended up accepting the job offer from BigBear.ai as the Senior Account Executive for Defense Innovation. I turned the offer with BigBear.ai down twice before accepting, when I finally stopped doubting my own skill set.

After being hired, conversations 501-1,000 were focused on networking for work and personal growth. The first half of these were internal in the company. I treated the first month with BigBear.ai as if my job was to get to know the people in the company and their challenges. My biggest takeaway: Companies need to be steadfast in their support of hiring veterans to give veterans the confidence and reassurance that their service would be an asset in their careers.

I’m a Vietnam War Veteran. Here’s How Writing My Memoir Has Helped Me Heal

LinkedIn
Bill Taylor, Vietnam Veteran, dressed in suit coat smiling in a library

I fought in Vietnam for 13 months at the age of 18. After my tour in Vietnam, I returned home a changed man. And while there was nothing extraordinary about my experience compared with others who had fought, I remain changed by my experiences there.

It’s estimated that around 30 percent of Vietnam Veterans have experienced PTSD in their lifetime. The disorder, however, doesn’t have to be as a result of war; it can be caused by any traumatic experience. For veterans who have fought in wars, PTSD can be lurking just under the surface and ready to take the place of rational thought. It pushes you into an uncontrollable urge to win the perceived battle. My urges are deep-seated and come from just over a year of constant combat.

I Had to Get My Story Out 

When I came home, I knew I had an amazing story to tell. It took me nearly 50 years, but last year, I published my memoir, On Full Automatic: Surviving 13 Months in Vietnam. I always knew getting my story down on paper would be a great way to explain to those who have never fought in a war, what it’s like to actually be there. What I didn’t expect was that the whole process would be so cathartic.

Here’s How Writing My Book Has Been Healing:

I’ve Found a Way to Honor the Heroes I Knew in Vietnam

I’m not the hero in my book. People have said to me, “Thank you for your service. You are a hero in my eyes.” But I’m thinking, “I’m not the hero. The guys in my book that I wrote about are the heroes. Especially those that gave their all, they are the real heroes.” I was just a scared kid and in a lot of ways it was pure luck that brought me home at the end of my tour. Many guys weren’t as lucky.

Bill Taylor in battle uniform early Vietnam war days
Just south of the DMZ before our battle during Operation Buffalo

In writing my book, I’ve been able to tell the story of all the men I knew. Many of them lost their lives but writing about them is a way of honoring them. They are back with us forever. My story is their story, and it’s finally being told.

I’ve Helped Other Survivors Process Their Own Experiences 

So many veterans come home from war and can’t talk about it. They keep their experiences bottled up inside, where they can do real harm. But people respond to shared experiences. When I’ve talked to other vets who have been through war, our stories just come out automatically. It completes, verifies and justifies something inside us. I’ve had a lot of feedback from other vets who have read my book and feel that by telling my story, they have found healing too. In a way it’s their story, the one they weren’t able to tell themselves or to their families.

I’ve Given Those Who Weren’t There a New Understanding of War

On the flip side, many people who haven’t experienced war don’t know why the vet acts the way they do. They may see erratic behavior in a loved one and not know why their behavior has changed. I’ve also heard from a lot of readers who in reading the book finally understand. If you haven’t experienced it, you just don’t know. My book has given people the experience of being there. It has opened their eyes like never before.

I wanted people to know what happened. I wanted to get those memories out of me. And now that it’s all out in the open, it’s there for everyone to see and experience. When I’ve traveled to talk at book clubs, I’ve had some amazing experiences. At times I’ve had up to 20 people surrounding me asking questions. And that’s 20 more people that have a better insight of what veterans have been through.

I’ve Learned How to Process and Control My Own Emotions 

When I first sat down and actually wrote my book, I didn’t experience healing immediately. It wasn’t until I started going through rounds of editing that the real healing set in. The first time I edited my manuscript, I cried after each story. Then the second time, I cried. Third and fourth times the same thing would happen. But the more I edited the less I would cry. And now I can tell the stories when I speak to crowds of people and for the most part, do not have a problem anymore.

A lot of veterans attend support groups and share their stories. But for those guys who just can’t talk about it for whatever reason, writing can be very therapeutic. I’m not suggesting that everyone write a book. And grammar or spelling shouldn’t be a concern. A lot of guys are just like me; they went into the military straight from high school. But it’s about getting your story out on paper. Once it’s there you have a choice. You can save it and share it with your children or grandchildren, or you just tear it up. The important thing is that you got your story out.

Providing Business, DVBE. Employment & Educational Opportunities For Veterans

American Family Insurance

American Family Insurance

Leidos Video

USVM Commercial

lilly

Alight

Alight

About USVM

Heroes with Hearing loss

VIBN Conference

Upcoming Events

  1. Multiple Hire GI Hiring Events During June-December!
    June 21, 2022 - December 8, 2022
  2. REBOOT WORKSHOP – VIRTUAL
    September 12, 2022 @ 8:00 am - January 20, 2023 @ 5:00 pm
  3. Elder Customers –Treating Customers with Empathy–Virtual Event
    December 14, 2022
  4. 2-Week Virtual REBOOT Workshop
    January 9, 2023 - January 19, 2024
  5. CCME 2023 Professional Development Symposium
    January 23, 2023 - January 26, 2023