Honoring our Military

Get to know the men and women who’ve served our country and continue to shape our society.

Americans are surrounded by extraordinary men and women who dedicate their lives to serving our country. That service often extends beyond their years in the military.

In celebration of National Military Appreciation Month, we shine a light on the achievements of 23 veterans both during and after their service.

Michael Burroughs Image: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaeljburroughs/Name: Michael Burroughs
Company: PuroClean
Michael Burroughs is a veteran of three combat deployments to the Middle East with the US Army. After his service, he went on to graduate with a major in business from Azusa Pacific University. His passion for helping others led him to found PuroClean, called the “paramedic of property damage.” Today, Burroughs commits this industry leader to the military community by providing veterans a 25% discount on PuroClean franchise startups, helping them to find a path after discharge or retirement.
Patrick Murphy Image: https://www.workmerk.com/patrickmurphyName: Patrick Murphy
Company: WorkMerk
Patrick Murphy was the first veteran of the Iraq War to be elected to Congress, later serving as the 32nd under secretary of the Army. Apart from his achievements in politics, Murphy is cofounder and executive chairman of WorkMerk, an ed tech digital engagement company. This service-disabled, veteran-owned small business employs veterans and provides military organizations with professional education services and products.
Don McGrogan Image: https://www.popularpatch.com/military-patchesName: Don McGrogan
Company: McGrogans Patch Designs
After serving 26 years in the US Navy, Don McGrogan returned to his hobby of collecting military patches. He founded McGrogans Patch Designs to help others realize the commemorative value of these patches. Now a part of Popular Patch, McGrogan, along with his grandson Randy, remains active within the veteran community through one-of-a-kind, hand-designed patches.
Matthew Name: Matthew “Griff” Griffen
Company: Combat Flip Flops
Matthew Griffen spent five years as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan and Iraq. Struck by the poverty and need he witnessed during his service, he launched Combat Flip Flops to give back. The company makes cool products in dangerous places out of retired war tools to provide education and opportunity to people in impoverished countries. Each product sold contributes to keeping Afghan girls in school, employing Afghan war widows and supporting American Gold Star families, among other worthy causes. Combat Flip Flops also donates to charities that empower entrepreneurs in conflicted areas, build community and support women’s education.
Evan Hafer Image: https://www.blackriflecoffee.com/pages/about-usName: Evan Hafer
Company: Black Rifle Coffee Company
Evan Hafer served 20 years in the Army infantry and as a Special Forces Communication sergeant, contracting with the CIA contractor before deployment to Afghanistan and Iraq. Hafer found that he couldn’t find a great cup of coffee while deployed, and so he began roasting his own beans to take along overseas. In 2014, Hafer created the Black Rifle Coffee Company with the mission to deliver high-quality coffee worldwide, with a portion of its profits donated to veteran, law enforcement, fire and first-responder causes.
Name: Kristina Guerrero
Company: TurboPUP
Kristina Guerrero graduated from the US Air Force Academy and became a decorated veteran and recipient of two Combat Air Medals for missions flown in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Combined Joint Task Force–Horn of Africa. Guerrero founded TurboPUP to create a grain-free, all-natural energy bar for her pup, Dunkan. Thriving with help from Shark Tank investors, TurboPUP donates 5% of its profits to veteran and animal support causes.
Hardy Stone Image: http://vetlikeme.org/merry-christmas/Name: Hardy Stone
Company: Vet Like Me
Hardy Stone was a cadet at West Point in 1976, seeking a commission in the US Army. After sustaining an injury, Stone retired and went on to earn his master’s in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. He soon founded Vet Like Me, the nation’s only digital daily news publication created, owned and operated by veterans and devoted to veteran-owned businesses.
Lou ScolaName: Lou Scola
Company: CARSTAR Scola’s Collision Center
Lou Scola worked as an aviation electronics technician for the Navy, afterward working at his dad’s auto body repair shop. With the experience he gained, Scola went on to found Carstar Scola’s Collision Center in Brookfield, Illinois, where he hires and supports fellow veterans with an admiration for their discipline and organization. In the past, Scola has maintained an active role in the veteran community, such as donating a refurbished Chevy Equinox to a military veteran on Veteran’s Day in 2015. CARSTAR Scola’s Collision Center rebuilt the Chevy at their own expense with parts donated by vendors.
Pedro Cedeno Image: https://www.linkedin.com/in/pedrocedenorpmdade/Name: Pedro Cedeño
Company: Real Property Management
Pedro Cedeño turned to real estate investing after an honorable discharge from the United States Marine Corps. In 2012, Cedeño joined Real Property Management as a franchise co-owner. He combines his love of real estate with the veteran community by giving back through a partnership with Homes for Our Troops, a nationwide nonprofit that enables post-9/11 and severely injured veterans the opportunity to rebuild their lives with the help of specially adapted, mortgage-free homes. Cedeño’s franchise also donates a set amount to Rents for Vets with every lease they sign.
Name: Dr. Celia Rentería Szelwach
Company: Entrepreneur
After graduating from the US Military Academy at West Point as part of its 11th class of women, Dr. Celia Rentería Szelwach spent five years on active duty at Fort Bragg, where she jumped from planes as a senior-rated parachutist and guided strategic deployments in the Army Transportation Corps. After her service, she led a unionized workforce in corporate America and owned several consulting businesses whose clients included the US Department of Veterans Affairs and MarineMax. Passionate about serving veterans, Dr. Zelwach was appointed by the secretary of the VA to two advisory committees on women and minority veterans. She also founded and led the nonprofit Women Veterans Network — or WOVEN — for seven years.
Fred Smith Image: https://about.van.fedex.com/our-story/leadership/frederick-w-smith/Name: Fred Smith
Company: Federal Express (FedEx)
Fred Smith founded Federal Express two years after combat duty in Vietnam, where he served as an officer in the United States Marine Corp. The leadership skills he learned overseas helped him turn a tiny startup with eight airplanes into FedEx, a global transportation company that today serves 220 countries. Fedex is an active participant in the lives of military men, women and families. In 2018, FedEx sponsored the USO’s Holidays for Heroes program, which provides care packages and hosts holiday parties for service members deployed to Southwest Asia and remote locations.FedEx also collaborates with the USO on the FedEx Football Fellowship, which works with NFL teams to create on-the-job experiences for recently transitioned veterans, helping them to navigate their way from military to civilian life.
Eli and Jen Crane Image: https://www.forbes.com/sites/marklrockefeller/2018/06/07/money-love-shark-tank-3-ways-this-successful-couple-keeps-it-all-together/#1ca95f4271c4Name: Eli and Jen Crane
Company: Bottle Breacher
Eli Crane served as a committed Navy SEAL for 13 years before founding Bottle Breacher with his wife, Jen, crafting high-quality bottle openers that are hand-crafted by active-duty service members, reservists and veterans. Bottle Breacher continues to grow with the help of a deal supported by two sharks from Shark Tank. Eli and Jen operate Bottle Breacher at a 25% veteran-hire rate, donating a portion of the company’s proceeds to more than 50 military and veteran nonprofits that include the Navy Seal Foundation, Folds of Honor and the Chris Kyle Memorial Benefit.
Picture not described: Hannah-and-Tristan-Ambrozewski-e1557515731564.jpg Image: https://www.teeitupforthetroops.org/blog/2016/02/04/6063/Name: Hannah and Tristan Ambrozewski
Company: Anytime Fitness near Fort Bragg
Hannah and Tristan Ambrozewski found love in the Army. They met at basic training, were stationed together for four years at Fort Lewis and deployed together for one year in Iraq. After their service, they were determined to keep up their health and physical fitness. Hannah and Tristan became the first recipient of a grant sponsored by Tee It Up for the Troops, a non-profit that works with Operation Heartfirst to provide a $125,000 grant and a $125,000 loan to veterans to start a franchise through Anytime Fitness’ Heartfirst Charitable Foundation. Hannah and Tristan used the $125,000 grant and $125,000 loan to open an Anytime Fitness gym near Fort Bragg to help veterans and the general community lead healthier lives. Together, they strive to assist in easing the transition into civilian life for service members, partnering with Lift for the 22 to provide a free one-year gym membership to select veterans.
Bob Parsons Image: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/scottsdale/2017/12/22/godaddy-founder-former-ceo-adding-1-3-million-bonuses-holding-company-employees-following-gop-tax-pl/976702001/Name: Bob Parsons
Company: GoDaddy.com
Bob Parsons attributes his success as founder of GoDaddy.com to the years he served in the United States Marine Corps as a lance corporal and rifleman. He credits the military for showing him the importance of doing what’s right. To give back to the military, Parsons gifted $1 million to establish the Bob Parsons Veterans Center at the University of Baltimore. The veterans center has teamed up with the National Museum of the US Marine Corps, Semper Fi Fund and Warrior Canine Connection on efforts to support the military and veteran community.
Blake Hall Image: https://www.id.me/teamName: Blake Hall
Company: ID.me
Blake Hall led a battalion reconnaissance platoon in Iraq for 15 months before being awarded the Bronze Star Medal with Valor for leading his troops in a fireflight against insurgents, saving 20 American lives. After serving, Hall wrote for the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other publications. He is today CEO of ID.me, which simplifies how people can securely prove and share their identity online. ID.me, formerly Troop Swap and Troop ID, is a federally certified identity network that helps users more easily prove their legal identity — including their veteran status — through a single login.
Name: Dr. Christina Patton
Company: Clinical Psychologist and Forensic Evaluator for the Colorado Mental Health Institute
Dr. Christina Patton served as a US Air Force security forces officer, carrying the responsibilities of base defense, counterintelligence, law enforcement and asset security. Aside from her support of first-responders and high-risk underserved veterans in the criminal justice system, she believes that a strength that female veterans bring to the workforce is a drive to improve their environment. While serving in the Air Force Reserve, she created her wing’s first-ever women’s focus group. Post-military, she became a clinical psychologist and forensic evaluator for the Colorado Mental Health Institute, serving the veteran community with research that includes studies into how mental health and behaviors differ between military members and civilians.
Daniel Brillman Image: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-brillman-a0a699b/detail/photo/ Name: Daniel Brillman
Company: Unite US
After serving 12 years as a military pilot, Daniel Brillman began work on a study of what military members need to more easily adjust to civilian life. Brillman’s study led to the start of Unite US, a service that connects military service members, veterans and their families to resources and opportunities in their communities.
Robert Dyer Image: http://commandyourbusiness.com/2013/09/30/episode-9-rob-dyer-active-duty-us-marine-corps-officer-iraq-and-afghanistan-veteran-shark-tank-guest-ceo-ruckpack/Name: Robert Dyer
Company: RuckPack
While serving in Afghanistan, Marine Corps Major Robert Dyer sought a drink that could boost his energy without the inevitable crash that came with mainstream energy drinks. Dyer soon founded RuckPack, a holistic, caffeine-free energy shot that’s designed and tested by special ops forces. To give back to his community, Dyer donates 5% of RuckPack’s profits to organizations that support MARSOC, the Green Berets and the Navy SEALs to unite and strengthen the nation.
Gregory Coleman Image: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gregorycoleman/detail/photo/Name: Gregory Coleman
Company: Sworkit
Gregory Coleman earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering while serving in the Air Force and his master’s degree while flying full time for the Air National Guard. After 26 years of service, Coleman joined forces with fellow veteran Benjamin Young to found Nexercise, now Sworkit, a workout and fitness app that allows you to personalize video workouts and work with a personal trainer in real time. The app has become a powerful tool for veterans looking to prioritize individual fitness after discharge.
Elvis Presley Image: https://www.elvispresleymusic.com.au/pictures/1958-october-ritters-park-hotel-bad-homburg.htmlName: Elvis Presley
Company: Musician and Icon
Elvis Presley received a draft notice in 1957, joining the US Army in the same year. He was first stationed in Texas, but later served in Germany, where he met his wife, Priscilla. The King of Rock ’n’ Roll left the Army in 1960, but not before a promotion to sergeant.After service, Presley remained a true patriot. In March 1961, Presley teamed up with his manager, “Colonel” Tom Parker, to plan and promote a benefit concert to raise money for the construction of the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. The concert raised nearly $60,000 and kickstarted a flood of donations that helped reach the goal of $500,000 by September 1961.
Tony Bennett Image: https://www.tonybennett.com/bio.phpName: Tony Bennett
Company: Musician
Tony Bennett was drafted into the Army in 1944, near the end of World War II. He was discharged after being assigned to the 63rd Infantry “Blood and Fire” Division and serving in Germany and France, returning to the US in 1946. He was being among the US soldiers who liberated Kaufering concentration camp, a subcamp of Dachau, in April 1945.After discharge, Bennett applied the experience he gained by participating in military bands to study at the American Theatre Wing on the GI Bill. In April 1945, Bennett began applying his heart and time to humanitarian causes, raising money for such nonprofits as the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the American Cancer Society and the Walden Woods Foundation.
Oliver Stone Image: https://www.indiewire.com/2018/10/oliver-stone-interview-w-bush-trump-hollywood-1202013468/Name: Oliver Stone
Company: Motion Picture Creator
Oliver Stone eagerly joined the US Army in 1967, serving in Vietnam with the 25th Infantry Division and later in the 1st Cavalry Division. Today, he is a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart and the writer behind such Oscar Award–winning movies as Platoon and Born on the Fourth of July. It’s been said that Stone’s honest narrative and scenes throughout these and other accredited films have helped veterans reunite with one another and find common ground after war.
Buzz Aldrin Image: https://www.cnn.com/2013/01/15/us/buzz-aldrin-fast-facts/index.htmlName: “Buzz” Aldrin
Company: Astronaut
Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin was exposed to the US Air Force at a young age by his father, who served as a colonel and encouraged an interest in flight. This inspired Buzz to become a fighter pilot in the Korean War. In 1963, he was selected by NASA to complete the next Gemini mission and was honored to walk on the moon along with Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 mission.

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