Lt. Col. Christopher T. Ford, U.S. Air Force (Ret.) Lt. Col. Ford explains how, after dealing with the loss of three Airmen under his command, he pursued a job within the Office of Warrior and Family Support to help service members, veterans and their families address challenges they face. Now, after retiring, he has used his experience as an advocate and leader to create the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations (NAVSO) to support the 42,000 VSOs working to offer services and support those who have served America.
Celebrating Veterans Day and the one year anniversary of Empower Our Vets we share with you a collection of our storytellers expressing #MyVeteranPride.
PO3 Ashley J. Rodriguez, U.S. Navy (2005-2010) As President of the Temple Universit Veterans Association PO3 Rodriguez has committed herself to helping other student veterans find success through higher education and plans to continue serving her community after graduating next Spring.
SGT Lee Ielpi, U.S. Army (1968-1970) SGT Ielpi has lived his life in honor of those he has lost - the multiple members of his reconnaissance unit in Vietnam and his son, Jonathan, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks at the World Trade Center. As the President of the Board of Directors for the September 11th Families' Association and co-founder of the 9/11 Tribute Center, he has worked tirelessly to educate people on the "good" that has come from such a tremendous tragedy. As we reach the 15th anniversary of one of the darkest days in American history, Lee wants to "let young people know that through the understanding of 9/11 they can learn the importance of service and contributing to their communities" and is spearheading a campaign to expand the mission of the 9/11 Tribute Center to do exactly that.
Believing that SGT Ielpi personifies the incredible strength and resilience of our service members, we ask you to consider making a donation to assist in building the new 9/11 Tribute Center. Together we can show that the Empower Our Vets community believes in honoring the memories of those we have lost - no matter where the battlefield is located. The donation page can be found here: http://bit.ly/2cCDskf
You can find out more about the expansion here: http://bit.ly/2csMn9d
SSgt Brett Fox, U.S. Marine Corps (2006-2011) SSgt Fox talks about utilizing the skills he learned while in the Marines to plan for a year-long motorcycle trip though Central and South America, and how his military service will allow him to address any challenges he might find along the way. (If interested, you can follow him on his journey at www.asphaltandbeyond.com.)
MSgt Kristine Hesse, U.S. Air Force (Ret.) After 24 years in the Air Force MSgt Hesse has made it her mission to provide support to transitioning service members with a focus on the specific challenges that female veterans face.
SGT James E. Bane, U.S. Marine Corps (2001-2008) SGT Bane describes the journey he has taken to follow his dream of becoming an actor and how that decision saved his life. In addition, he highlights the value of the relationships he built during his time in the Marines and how those relationships have sustained him since leaving the military.
SGT Jason Morgado, U.S. Army (1991-2004) SGT Morgado talks about the importance of veterans supporting one another during peacetime, wartime and civilian life and urges his fellow veterans to trust in those relationships when in a time of need.
MA2 Nicole J. Heffel, U.S. Navy (2005-2010) MA2 Heffel talks about the pride she has in the people she served with and the determination she has felt to prove people wrong when they tell her she can't achieve something. As an advocate for incarcerated female veterans she believes that "if there is one there is enough" to fight for.
CPL John M. Laursen, U.S. Army (Ret.) and USA Warriors Ice Hockey An OIF/OEF veteran, CPL Laursen talks of the loss he felt when forced to retire due to his injuries and the role the Warriors have played in getting him back on track. The sense of camaraderie the team provides to its members has allowed each of them to feel like they have found their new military family.