Rick has always been very active in supporting veterans both here and in the UK. In early 2011 two friends took their own lives. Both were under the age of 26, both were combat Marines and both had been civilians for less than a year. The Die was cast.
Since then Rick has worked diligently to educate himself about the challenges that our young combat veterans face — from reintegration into civilian life issues, to education and employment concerns, and the damning lack of support for those struggling with PTS/Combat Trauma.
Vets 360 and Carry The Challenge is the culmination of that education.
“One of the biggest challenges we have is to ask/tell/beg todays combat veterans to accept support before cure options are needed or required.”
When today’s veterans leave a world where the stigma of PTS is so damning to career, family and friends, it is only natural that the “go it alone” attitude will stay with them. If seasoned warriors can be open and honest about their own struggles with PTS and transition to civilian life then maybe, just maybe, today’s veterans will realize that asking for support is a sign of strength not an inability to cope.
We are truly honored to have such an amazing group of Patron’s, Board Members, Advisors, Ambassadors and Volunteers.
PS Rick is an admirer of Winston Churchill, Forest Gump and Al Bundy. If nothing warns or educates you about his personality and sense of humor then nothing will.
After leaving the Corps he worked with LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier PLC, as an online product, content, and marketing expert. As the owner and consultant at Content Capital LLC since 2009, he has consulted extensively on marketing, research, and product development projects for government and civilian organizations. He is a member of the Special Libraries Association and the Association of Independent Information Professionals.
Scott has a BS in Aviation Management from Southern Illinois University, an MS in Applied Economics and an MBA in Marketing from Wright State University.
Dwight notes: “As someone who has been on the forefront of this nations conflicts and as someone who has seen firsthand the cause and effect of PTS on our special operators I want to do what I can to convince today’s veterans that going it alone if not an option. We are all part of a brotherhood and there will never be an “I” in “Team” when it comes to dealing with PTS.”
Sgt. Maj. Booker is a graduate of the Marine Scout Sniper, Amphibious Reconnaissance and the Assault Breachers Courses. He is a graduate of the US Navy Dive School, US Army Airborne, Static line Jump Master, Military Free Fall, Free Fall Jump Master and Pathfinder courses. He is also a Graduate of the National Defense University Keystone Course.
Jim has 44 months of combat experience during his career with personal awards that include the Silver Star, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (w/star), Bronze Star (with V) and Combat Action Ribbon (w/star)
Jim notes: “We spent a lot of time teaching them how to kick down doors and destroy on contact. Now it is time to teach them how to open doors and walk through them with a better understanding of the possibilities that civilian life has to offer. If they agree to open the door, it is our responsibility to walk through it with them.”
Jay served for 21 years in a variety of roles with both conventional and special operations forces. In 2004 as the Special Operations Forces Liaison Officer for I MEF he deployed to Iraq to train the Iraqi Special Forces (SSF). In October he was assigned as the liaison officer to an Iraqi Army battalion as they entered the city of Fallujah in November to battle insurgents for control of the city. Subsequently, Kopelman served as the I MEF liaison officer to a joint special operations task force and as a liaison officer to the Iraqi border forces – The Desert Wolves – at the Syrian and Jordanian borders. His last assignment was as the Deputy Director for advisor training at Camp Pendleton.
“The government does a superb job training, equipping, and deploying warriors for combat. What it fails to do, however, is train and equip them for their return and ultimately their integration to civilian life. Veterans 360 and Carry the Challenge reaches out to young warriors struggling with life after deployment so that they don’t ‘fall through cracks’ in the system. One warrior suffering from PTS, substance abuse, homelessness, unemployment and suicidal ideation is one too many. We’ve got to reach out and tell these young warriors that it’s okay to ask for help, to show them through our experiences that they are not alone and deliver on our sacred commitments to them.”
Previously, she treated folks struggling with chemical dependency and then adults and children impacted by trauma originating from both inside and outside of the family. Over time she developed a strong interest in treating traumatic stress using evidence-based treatments and methodologies. “With trauma comes struggles with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, isolation, grief, shame and anger” all of which Heidi has expertise in treating.
Since marrying into the Marine Corps family she has gained a true respect for military culture. Heidi has attended numerous Combat Stress Conferences and has a passion for understanding the challenges facing military members transitioning to civilian life.
“Healing and positive growth often happens ‘after’ adversity. I am committed to providing practical steps to those we serve as part of the Veterans 360 team.”
Colonel Powers was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps following graduation from Villanova University. Since he assumed duties as Platoon Commander in January 1978 he has served in the Fleet Marine Force and supporting establishments from Platoon Commander on up to Director, Naval Expeditionary Warfare (N5), EWTGPAC Coronado CA.
Jeff attended the Infantry Officer’s Advance Course at Ft Benning Ga., the Defense Language School (Dutch) and in 1991 he was assigned to the U.S. Army JFK SWCS at Ft Bragg, NC and attended the Special Forces Detachment Officers Course earning the Green Beret.
He deployed to Saudi Arabia in August 1990 as Task Force Commander and Task Force Operations Officer in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.
In August 1994, he attended the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel after which he was assigned as Officer in Charge, Special Operations Training Group (SOTG), I MEF Camp Pendleton CA.
In March 2000, he was promoted to Colonel after which he attended the Naval War College, Newport RI, and in July 2001, he served as the Director, Naval Expeditionary Warfare (N5), EWTGPAC Coronado CA.
Jeff retired in June, 2003 and is now president of Powers Built, a SDVOBE.
Colonel Powers’ Personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with Combat V, Meritorious Service Medal w/2 Stars, Combat Action Ribbon.
Jeff is married and has two daughters, Amanda and Brittany.
Ben believes that the experience of going to war makes young soldiers different, often in very positive ways, and that efforts like those of Vets360 to help struggling Veterans readjust are critical not only to the individuals but also to the strength of our country.
Rear Admiral Symonds retired from the Navy on 1 September 2010, and with his wife, Anne, resides in Chandler, Arizona.
“Throughout the history of organized warfare one of its most fundamental, organic and enduring truths is the need, the absolute obligation, of warriors to be able to trust those on their left and right. All depends on it and that obligation does not end when one leaves the field of battle. Another enduring reality is the availability of critical support on the home front. Our men and women ask, “Will that support be there? Will the system stand by those of us who willingly went forward in their name?”
Veterans 360 and Carry the Challenge engages warriors on our left and right and answers, with a resounding “Yes!” that the home front will stand true and honor our commitments to them.”