Veterans who inspire us to never stop serving

Kaylah Jackson
November 10, 2018 - 5:16 am

(Photo 129502766 © Zorandim -


Even after separating from the military, identifying as a veteran is a title for life. On this Veterans Day, we're highlighting just a few veterans who remind us our service and courage doesn't have to end after we take off the uniform. 

Kirstie Ennis

© PictureGroup

Ennis served in the Marine Corps for six years as a helicopter door gunner and airframes. She medically retired from service after her helicopter went down during a combat resupply mission. The crash left her with multiple injuries, including amputation of her leg. In 2017, she was featured on the cover of ESPN the magazine's body issue. She also became the first female U.S. veteran above-the-knee amputee to summit Carstensz Pyramid, at 16,024 ft above sea level, the highest mountain in Indonesia.

Josh Collins

Josh Collins

Challenges are nothing new for Josh Collins. After suffering nine traumatic brain injuries, seven of them while on active duty in the Army, many wondered what was next for him. For Collins, it was Operation Torrent: a 750-mile stand up paddle board journey. 

Read Also: TBIs had him considering suicide but a paddleboard helped save him

Lance Nutt

When it's time to evacuate during a natural disaster, many leave behind their lives and belongings, unaware of what awaits when they return. Marine veteran, Lance Nutt and his team at Sheep Dog Impact Assistance (SDIA) run towards the disaster. From clearing debris after Hurricane Katrina and Florence to providing Thanksgiving meals to families in need, SDIA has been there for those in crisis.

Read Also: Sheep Dog Impact Assistance helps flood victims in Wilmington, NC

Rob Jones

© Sean Dougherty-USA TODAY

As a combat engineer in the Marines, Jones was instrumental in detecting buried IEDs and weapon caches in the Middle East. An injury from a landmine resulted in the amputation of both of his legs. During his recovery, he took to multiple sports including rowing and running. Jones has competed in the Paralympic Games and Invictus Games.  During his 'Rob Jones Journey,'  he ran a month of marathons.

Read Also: Rob Jones on battle scars: “We still need you.”

Thomas Burke

Photo Courtesy of Tom Burke

Like many, the experience of war shook Thomas Burke. He attempted suicide three times but his story didn’t end with his mental struggles. As a graduate of Yale Divinity School, Burke went from the life as Marine to the Ivy Leagues, eventually becoming an associate minister.

Read Also: How one Marine went from attempting suicide to the Ivy League

Adam Keys

Photo Courtesy of Adam Keys

An IED explosion in Afghanistan left Keys a triple amputee. The next five years of life were spent learning to walk again with prosthetics. Learning to walk wasn’t enough though, for this Army paratrooper, he most recently climbed Africa’s tallest peak—Mount Kilimanjaro.

Read Also: How a triple amputee Army Paratrooper totally crushed Africa’s tallest peak

Janiece Marquez


Fluent in Pashto, Marquez served as a member of a Cultural Support Team alongside Special Forces service members in Afghanistan. Using her experiences in the Middle East, South America, and Africa, she started Stable Outcomes: a stability operations startup in conflict areas around the world.

Read Also: After the Army, she made her job making lives better

John Peck

(Photo by Matt Saintsing)

Many service members who lose limbs while overseas in combat come home and have to learn how to function again with prosthetics. For Marine veteran, John Peck, his recovery included a 16-hour surgery complete with an arm transplant. Peck's book documenting his life and road to recovery, Rebuilding Sergeant Peck: How I Put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan, will be available in March of next year.

Read Also: Double arm transplant recipient: ‘Every day I’m pushing myself’

Rudy Reyes

(Photo courtesy of Force Blue)

For SOF veterans, diving isn't just a hobby they do in their free time. Reyes, a RECON Marine is co-founder of Force Blue. The organization brings together the special operations community for the greater good of marine conservation. From Coral Disease Response and Underwater Survey Work to Marine Mammal & Reptile Rescue, these Spec Ops veterans do it all in the name of preserving the planet.

Read Also: Underwater war fighters save more than coral reefs

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