The Vigiano Family Hope & Courage Award Honorees

2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Since 2010, the Vigiano Family Hope & Courage Awards have been presented to service members and military families who have demonstrated both hope and courage in the face of extraordinary circumstances. Each honoree is an outstanding example of service to our nation.
On September 11, 2014, Hope For The Warriors announced that the award would be named in honor of a very special family. Captain John Vigiano, Sr. retired FDNY, and his wife Jan, gave both of their sons on 9/11-one who served as a fire fighter and the other as a police officer in New York City. The Vigiano family has long served their country and their community. John served five years in the Marine Corps and then 36 years in the FDNY, becoming one of the most highly decorated fire fighters in NYC. After the tragedy of 9/11, the family continues to serve by supporting service members and military families. John visited troops in Iraq to personally thank them for their courage and sat at their bedside in medical centers to encourage their recovery. John joined Hope For The Warriors as an Honorary Board Member in 2006 and Jan continues to shine with strength and wisdom for her family.


2017 Recipients

Sgt Dana J. Abudayeh, USMC

Dana served in the Marine Corps from April 2003 to April of 2007. She joined after graduating high school, through the encouragement of her brother who was a Marine. Dana graduated in the top 10% of her platoon and graduated second in her class in Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) school. Dana then chose to be stationed at Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton, Calif., and worked at the Consolidated Personnel Administrative Center (CPAC). With one year left of service, Dana was selected to work for the Commanding General of Marine Corps Installations West in the Staff Secretary Office.

Shortly after getting out of the Marine Corps, Dana moved to Camp Lejeune and married Adel, another Marine. In 2013, Dana received a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary Education from UNCW with a 4.0 GPA.

In August of 2013, after twelve and a half years of honorable service and five combat deployments, Adel’s multiple injuries finally caught up to him, forcing him to retire. This changed the entire family’s plans, and Dana became a full-time caregiver.
In addition to her role of caregiver, wife, and mom of two young boys, Adel (9) and Amir (4), Dana uses her gifts by volunteering with Hope For The Warriors and at her church, where she runs many ministries.

Dana lives by the following Bible verses: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understandings. (Proverbs 3:5) and I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Sgt Mario D. Alcala, USMC (Ret)

Mario enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in January of 2004. Before entering the military, he played football at Southern Oregon University. Unfortunately, in his junior year, Mario tore his Achilles tendon which ended his playing career and left him feeling purposeless. Mario knew he needed a change and that is when he found a recruiter’s office and joined the Marine Corps. When he arrived at Camp Pendleton, he deployed within two weeks to Fallujah, Iraq, in March of 2005.

Shortly after returning from Iraq, Mario met his wife, Elizabeth, and they now have two sons, Quentin (9) and Koa (5). Mario also earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees.

Currently, Mario volunteers with Hope For The Warriors in Texas. His inspiration and strength come from his faith and trust in God.
Mario lives by the following Bible verse: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)


Hope enlisted in the Army on August 3, 1983. She was raised in a very strict home and tired of rules, so she walked away from a full ride scholarship to Penn State and joined the Army. Little did Hope know, the Army had even more rules and structure than her home. She went to Fort Dix, N.J., for boot camp and Fort Lee, Va., for her Advanced Individual Training (AIT) quartermaster school.

Hope’s first duty station was Mannheim, Germany, where she earned many awards in the American/German Gun Club. After her time PCSing from Germany, Hope headed to Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., and made Specialist-E4 after only being in for two years. Some of her other duty tours included Fort Hood, Texas, as well as Hawaii and Iraq.

Hope is the proud mother of Ashley and four grandbabies: Carson (7), Daia (5), Ezra (3), and Fable (1).

My life has been very eventful, and all the choices I have made have molded me into the strong woman I am today. I am blessed to have a strong network of people in my life. My immediate and extended family is so important to me. I must express my gratitude and love to the Wrights, Harpers, Sants, Catletts, Mccains, Bequetts, Mayes, Longs, and Yocums. The support and love I received from all of you is amazing. Hope

SPC Gabby Mack, USA

Gabby joined the military in May of 2000 while she was still in high school to broaden her horizons and create new life experiences. She served with the 1206th Quartermaster out of Wetumpka, Ala., which deployed to Balad, Iraq, in 2003. Unfortunately, Gabby sustained a knee injury two weeks before her unit deployed which led to her eventual medical discharge in March 2005.

Gabby has overcome many obstacles in her life, and she continues to have a positive attitude through any negative situation she faces. Gabby met Hope For The Warriors while recovering from a couple of surgeries. Hope For The Warriors was able to provide Gabby with financial assistance to cover her living expenses while she received treatment miles away from her home. Currently, Gabby volunteers with a nonprofit agency that supports those struggling with homelessness.

Bob and Cindy Roberts
Proud Parents of SGT Kristie Roberts

Bob and Cindy Roberts have been married for 35 years and had one child, their daughter Kristie. Bob is Plant Supervisor for Duke Concrete Products (34 years). Cindy has been a 911 Emergency Dispatcher for Warren County Sheriff’s Department for over 26 years. The family has a history of being patriotic volunteers, so when Kristie told her parents at age 17 she wanted to join the New York Army National Guard, they understood. Kristie was a paramedic in the private sector, volunteered in multiple EMS agencies, and was a medic in the military. She was an advocate for the very young and the very old, wanting to be the voice for those who are not able to speak for themselves. She was honorably discharged from the New York Army National Guard and joined the New York Air National Guard shortly after. In 2010, Kristie opted to join the New York Army National Guard again.

On August 21, 2012, Bob and Cindy became Gold Star Parents. Kristie was one of the 22-A-Day who died by suicide. The Roberts asked themselves, “What do we do now?” On their journey after Kristie’s death, the family has been embraced by many but significantly inspired by two individuals. SFC Arthur Coon, Kristie’s recruiter, who was the first person to give Bob and Cindy strength, compassion, and support daily. Carrie Farley, an American Gold Star Mom, provided friendship and a support system that only those who have lost a child can offer. Cindy and Bob have been given the strength to share their story of loss in the hopes of raising awareness.

Hope for the Warriors has given us opportunities to open eyes [concerning suicide] and continually gives us strength and support. We hope to get those who are struggling to a place where they can comfortably talk and know they do not have to carry their burdens alone. Princess Diana said, “I don’t go by the rule book…I lead from the heart, not the head.” That was our Kristie. The Roberts


There were no award nominees this year. Hope For The Warriors celebrated our 10 year anniversary with a look back at how far we have come and where we hope to go in the coming years.  We celebrated all our past nominees and their journies.

2015 recipients

SPC Catherine Bane, USA

Muskego, Wisconsin native, Catherine Bane, joined the United States Army in 2003 after being inspired to serve by her grandfathers, father, and brothers. While serving she met her husband, Raymond, a United States Marine. After marrying him in 2007, Catherine chose not to re-enlist and took on the role of Marine Wife and mother to their three children: Faith, John David, and Brock.

In May 2015, Catherine ran her first half marathon at the 5th Annual Run For The Warriors® Inaugural Half Marathon. After participating in the race, she confided in Hope For The Warriors® her experience of sexual assault while serving in the Army. Through Hope For The Warriors®, her family, her children, and the patience and love of her husband, Catherine rediscovered her self-worth, confidence, and value. She began accomplishing things she never imagined she could and healed through hope.

Catherine and her family continue to grow through Hope For The Warriors® Sports & Recreation programs. As a family, they participate in the Run For The Warriors® events, where their daughter and both sons completed their first 5Ks. The Bane Family is active with Team Hope For The Warriors® and local events like Kayak For The Warriors. As advocates of Hope For The Warriors®, the Bane family is committed to sharing hope through raising funds, awareness, and helping other veterans and military families.

Catherine is now working as a physical education teacher at Annunciation Catholic School in Havelock, North Carolina while continuing her education at Liberty University. As a leader in her local community, Catherine is committed to serving her family, community, and sharing hope to military children and families through her and her family’s personal experiences.

Juana Carrizales, USMC Caregiver

Juana Carrizales grew up in Houston, Texas, where she met her husband, Martin. After Martin completed Marine Corps Boot Camp and schooling, they married on December 27, 1997. The Marine Corps then issued Martin orders to Camp Pendleton and Juana continued her education at the University of Houston. She later joined Martin at Camp Lejeune in 1999.

In 2005, while on his 2nd deployment to Iraq, Martin was injured in an IED explosion and suffered a concussion. After completing his tour in Iraq and returning home, Juana realized his injuries were more severe than documented. In early 2008, Juana began to advocate for Martin to get the care that he needed.

After two years of countless doctors appointments and incidents, Martin was diagnosed with TBI, PTSD, and a lower back injury that resulted in fused discs and titanium rods. As his caregiver, Juana helped Martin on his long road to recovery. She managed his day-to-day activities, attended doctor appointments, therapy sessions, and assisted him in his speech and memory recovery.

Martin and Juana joined the Hope For The Warriors® family when Martin ran in the Inaugural Run For The Warriors® in 2006, and Juana volunteered with 2nd LAR Key Volunteers. Juana has been an active volunteer with Hope For The Warriors® for the past ten years, supporting countless events in the Camp Lejeune, North Carolina area.

Currently, Juana works as a Member Service Specialist at Marine Federal Credit Union in Jacksonville, NC and supports Martin as a caregiver while he continues to serve with Wounded Warrior Battalion East and interns as a MARSOC Instructor. Her firsthand experience as a caregiver and military spouse has made her invaluable to Hope For The Warriors® and her community.

SFC Angela Green, USAR

Angela Green grew up on Long Island and graduated from Uniondale High School. Immediately after, she enlisted in the United States Army. She remained Active Duty for three years and then joined the Army Reserves, where she has served for the past 27 years.

Angela deployed twice to Iraq with the 310th Military Police Battalion—first from January 2003–April 2004, then again from January 2006–July 2007. Upon becoming a reservist, Angela joined the NYPD until her retirement in August 2013. Her last position was in downtown Manhattan in the Chief of Department’s Office. She is currently the Brigade S3 Operations with the 333rd Military Police Brigade in Farmingdale, NY.

While serving in the United States Army, Angela received honors in Defense MSM, MSM, ARCOM, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, NDSM, GCM, Driver’s Badge, GWOT Expeditionary Medal, Overseas Service Medal, NATO Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, AFRAM, MUCM, and LDM.

Beyond her service within the military and NYPD, Angela serves her community extensively and enthusiastically through hours of volunteer work. She is an active member of a US veterans’ motorcycle club and serves in the Family Support Program for her Reserve Unit. Through her involvement she has supported multiple nonprofit organizations, including planning and attending veterans’ events, supporting the individual needs of wounded service members, and helping the relief efforts of Hurricane Sandy.

Angela is enrolled at John Jay College, pursuing a Criminal Justice Degree. She is a four-year breast cancer survivor and three-year survivor of Pulmonary Embolism. While focusing on her own battles, Angela has made her service to others a priority. She continues to significantly impact multiple New York military communities through her extensive leadership, activism, and volunteerism.

Courtney Spaeth, CEO of growth.[period]

Courtney B. Spaeth is the CEO and Founder of NSAWW / growth.[period]. Prior to founding growth.[period], Courtney served as Corporate Vice President of Homeland Security for the Raytheon Company. In less than two years, her efforts resulted in new revenue of over $1 billion USD. Before Raytheon, she served as Director of Homeland Systems Solutions for Lockheed Martin, winning more than $3 billion USD in new business. Courtney also served as Director of Force Health Protection of the Gulf War Illness Task Force as a contractor for Northrop Grumman.

In 2000, President Clinton appointed Courtney to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations / Low Intensity Conflict, where she was the Assistant in Charge of Global Terrorism Issues. In addition, she worked in the Department of Justice’s Criminal Antitrust Division, as well as the Office of Chief Counsel to the President.

Courtney recently received the 2014 Angel Outreach Award from the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation, an organization of which First Lady Michelle Obama is the Honorary Chair, honoring Courtney’s commitment to philanthropy. In April of 2014, she was named one of five finalists for the Outstanding Corporate Citizenship Awards in the Executive Leader of the Year Category by the Fairfax, Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Courtney was also a Finalist for the 2010 Ernst & Young Entrepreneurial Winning Women award and was the 2010 winner of the “Heroines in Technology” Award.

Courtney is a sought after speaker on a broad range of business and leadership issues. She appears regularly in national and trade media including Business Week, CBS News, the Washington Business Journal, and Smart CEO magazine, and was recently profiled in Women of Influence Magazine. She has extensive experience in emerging technologies and serves on several economic, technological, academic, and military Boards, including the Board of Directors for Hope For The Warriors®.

Courtney holds a Master’s Degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown University and a BA, with honors, in Military History from the University of Pennsylvania. She lives in the Washington, D.C. area with her husband and children.

Erin Thede, Director of Employer Partnership, Army Reserves

Ms. Erin Thede has served as the Director of the Private Public Partnership Office (formerly the Employer Partnership Office) in the Office, Chief Army Reserve since January of 2011. As Director she oversees support to soldiers, families, and veterans with career opportunities in the civilian sector. Most recently, Erin led the transition to focus on individual, leader, and unit readiness for the Army Reserve through key partnerships with companies, corporations, foundations, and NGOs. Her leadership ensures the Army Reserve is poised to offer greater capability in preventing and shaping operations throughout the world–strengthening national and global security.

Prior to this assignment, Erin served in a civilian capacity with the Army National Guard (ARNG) since 2003. Erin was instrumental in the creation and development of the ARNG’s Yellow Ribbon Program at both the State and National levels, including the provision of crucial background information as the Program went forward into Legislation.

In 2008 the ARNG expanded their Family and Soldiers Services, creating a new Division under Erin’s direction and guidance. Within this division she provided oversight for ARNG programs related to Warrior Transition Units, Suicide Prevention, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, Soldier Reintegration, Casualty Assistance, and Survivor Outreach Services. Erin’s next assignment was with the Department of the Army Inspector General. She was selected to represent the ARNG as a subject matter expert during the inspection of the Army’s Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention Program.

Erin began her service to our country in the 1980s, serving as a United States Marine. Her education includes a Bachelor’s Degree in Management from Park University and a Masters in Strategic Studies from the United States Army War College. Her lifetime of leadership and service continues to greatly influence many levels of support, policy, and development for the service member community.

Jan Vigiano, Gold Star Mother, Caregiver

Jan Vigiano was born and raised in New York, New York where she met her husband John Vigiano, United States Marine and highly decorated retired FDNY Captain. Together they had two sons, John, Jr. and Joe. Both sons followed in their father’s footsteps of service—John, Jr. serving as a fireman and Joe as a New York City Police Detective. On September 11, 2001, both John, Jr. and Joe lost their lives while bravely and selflessly rescuing those trapped in the World Trade Center.

After the 9/11 tragedies, John and Jan turned their tragedy into an opportunity to share hope. They go above and beyond to honor and support the brave men and women who answered the call to defend our nation’s freedoms. In 2006, John and Jan joined the Hope For The Warriors® family and have made it their mission to personally thank troops in Iraq, visit wounded service members and their families in medical facilities, and host fundraising events in their local community to support Hope For The Warriors® programs.

One of the many highlights of Jan’s journey with Hope For The Warriors ® was attending a Marine Corps Birthday Ball at Camp Lejeune, where she spent time at the Hope and Care Center. Another highlight was celebrating Christmas with wounded service members and military families under care at medical facilities in New York City. Her passionate service is a testament to her dedication to military families.

In the words of her husband John, “She is a truly remarkable woman and the smartest person I know; more common sense than anyone I have ever met. In my career, I always bounced my hard decisions off of her first and her insight helped me make the correct call.”

Jan and John reside in Long Island, New York and enjoy spending time with their daughters-in-laws and five grandchildren. Their oldest grandson is currently in United States Marine Corps boot camp at Paris Island, SC. Currently, they are working tirelessly on the “Support America’s Heroes” fundraiser for Hope For The Warriors®, taking place on November 7 in Long Island, NY.

Lee Woodruff, Caregiver

Lee Woodruff garnered critical acclaim for co-writing the best-selling In an Instant with her husband, Bob Woodruff. The novel is a compelling and humorous chronicle of her family’s journey to recovery following Bob’s roadside bomb injury in Iraq. Appearing together on national television and radio since the February 2007 publication of their book, Lee and Bob Woodruff have put a face to the serious issue of traumatic brain injury among returning Iraq war veterans.

Together, they founded the Bob Woodruff Foundation to assist wounded service members and their families. The foundation has raised more than $28 million to help veterans successfully reintegrate into their communities and receive critical long-term care.

Lee continues her impact on the military family community through her writing. She has penned numerous magazine articles about her family and parenting. Her most recent novel, Those We Love Most, became a New York Times best seller and won the Washington Irving Book Award for fiction.

Lee has been a contributing reporter for “CBS This Morning” and “Good Morning America.” She ran her own marketing consulting business for 16 years after leaving the PR agency world in New York, Washington DC, and San Francisco. Her voice as a writer and public figure, along with her activism as a military spouse, has greatly influenced the military family community.

Lee lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband and four children.

2014 recipients

Boston Honorees

Gretchen Mack, Gold Star Mother

Gretchen Mack is the mother of Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, who was KIA in April 2004. In 2007, Gretchen, with the help of her husband Jeff and daughter Kelley, walked from southern California to northern Wyoming in an effort to raise funds for a new foundation that would carry on her son’s legacy. In 2009, the Chance Phelps Foundation was officially created with a focus on outdoor recreation for service members, veterans, and their families. Gretchen lives in Dubois, Wyoming, less than a ten minute hike from her son’s final resting place.

John Phelps, Gold Star Father

John Phelps is the father of fallen Marine, Lance Corporal Chance Phelps. A native of Wyoming, his true talent and passion is evident in his paintings and sculptures. In 2007, Hope For The Warriors® commissioned the creation of what is now titled the No Man Left Behind Monument at Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton. Beyond his art work, John works as an Outdoor Adventures Coordinator with Hope For The Warriors®, using his tragedy to make a difference through the rehabilitative and healing powers of hunting and fishing for those with physical and psychological wounds from combat.

Washington, D.C. HONOREES

1LT Brian Donarski, USA (Ret.)

Brian “Ski” Donarski served more than 10 years in the Marine Corps and was honorably discharged in 1998. After 9/11, he re-enlisted in the Army. In 2005, Brian was hit by an IED causing severe injuries to include traumatic brain injury, PTSD, the loss of vision in his right eye as well as requiring multiple surgeries for his neck, back and shoulders. In spite all of these injuries, Ski has become a competitive golfer and has set a goal to be the first wounded service member to qualify for the U.S. Open. Ski is using the game of golf to support his physical and psychological recovery as well as a means to be a better father to his two daughters.

SFC Gary Everett, USA (Ret.)

Gary served in the Air Force for eight years before enlisting in the Army in 1989. Two months after 9/11, Gary deployed to Afghanistan for his first combat tour, staying in country for 14 months. He returned for less than a month before deploying to Iraq in early 2003. In June 2003 Gary’s convoy was hit by a suicide bomber, throwing him 50 feet from the blast. The explosion has impacted Gary’s mobility, vision, and physical and psychological health. In 2012, Gary was invited on a fishing trip with Hope For The Warriors® which reignited his interest in fishing as part of his rehabilitation. He returned and through his own funding, began taking veterans on trips with him, helping their psychological recovery as well. Gary recently retired, serving more than 30 years in the military.

SPC Edward Heddinger, USA (Ret.)

Edward graduated from The Citadel in Political Science and after 9/11, was compelled to enlist in the Army. Edward was a member of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division—a unit that served 22 months in Iraq. Edward was the first wounded warrior at Fort Meade and spent a year in recovery and retired in January 2009. As Edward transitioned to a new career, he volunteered with Hope For The Warriors® by assisting transitioning service members with their resumes. Edward also volunteers within his company as a mentor to other veterans in the company. Edward and his wife Rebecca live in the North Virginia area.

Jeff and Maura Brodeur, Courageous Caregivers

Jeff and Maura Brodeur are the parents of CPL Vincent Mannion-Brodeur, USA (Ret.) who was wounded in action on March 11, 2007. Due to the determination and advocacy of the Brodeur’s, Vincent became the first wounded service member that received care at a private medical facility, eventually leading to the expansion of Tricare coverage across the country and improvement of care in VA polytrauma centers. As caregivers, the Brodeurs joined other military families to advise lawmakers in the creation of new caregiver policies. Their tenacity also led the state of Massachusetts to pass the first law helping families renovate homes to accommodate the needs of a wounded veteran.

Los aNGELES Honorees

Petty Officer 2nd Class Taylor Morris and Danielle Kelly

Petty Officer 2nd Class Taylor Morris, USN, was severely wounded in Afghanistan in May 2012 and lost both legs, his left arm, and his right hand. Taylor, and his longtime girlfriend Danielle Kelly, have gained fame and recognition thanks to a Buzzfeed posting titled “A Love Story in 22 Pictures,” which has been viewed more than 5 million times. The photos capture years of their relationship, both before and after Taylor’s injury in Afghanistan, highlighting the strength of their love and friendship.

Those who know Taylor and Danielle know that the photos only scratch the surface. Each step in his recovery has required physical and emotional strength that challenged this young couple. His enthusiasm for documenting his journey is an inspiration to all.

Taylor has also become a champion for others. He was one of the service members highlighted in a video to support those injured in the Boston Marathon bombings. His compassion shows that Taylor’s service to our country continues on.

Captain Nick Kalt, USMC (Ret.)

Wisconsin native and San Clemente, California resident Nick Kalt takes tenacity to a new level. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy, Nick was stationed at Camp Pendleton when he witnessed the atrocities of 9/11. He was eager to deploy and serve his country, but during his training in 2002, Nick lost the fingers on his right hand when a primer detonated in his hands.

Nick focused on his recovery, determined to continue his service. He deployed to Iraq in 2004, leading a unit that checked buildings for insurgents and collected materials used to create IEDs. On November 22, 2004, Nick was hit with a bullet that traveled straight through his body. After two weeks of sedation and the removal of part of his intestine, President George W. Bush personally delivered Nick’s Purple Heart.

Nick is now medically retired from the Marine Corps and is a firefighter in Long Beach, California. He is the lead mentor for Leadership Under Fire, Inc., an organization that develops firefighters and fire officers through conferences, presentations, and training programs that promote discipline and leadership. Through his continued work in public service, Nick embodies humbleness and enthusiasm in the veteran community.

Carissa Tourtelot

Carissa has an undergraduate degree in public relations and extensive work within the field. But when her husband was wounded in action, Carissa charged forward on a new path to support his recovery. She returned to college to earn her Master in Social Work degree, receiving a Spouse/Caregiver Scholarship from Hope For The Warriors® along the way. Carissa graduated from the University of Southern California in May 2013 with a Mental Health Concentration with Sub-concentration in Military Programs & Veteran Services. She excelled in this program as a Dean’s Scholar and member of the Phi Alpha Honor Society – all while working full-time as a military caregiver.

Carissa currently works for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Wounded Warrior Regiment as a Recovery Care Coordinator at Camp Pendleton. Her commitment to local and national military communities demonstrates her investment as a military caregiver.

Dallas Honorees

Corporal Zach Briseno, USMC (Ret.)

Introduced to Hope For The Warriors® in the early years, Zach was one of the earliest members of Team Hope For The Warriors®, completing the Marine Corps Marathon on his handcycle. Since his service, he has completed his degree and has built a strong family unit with his son and new wife. Today, Zach travels across the country to play on a professional Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball team.

Terri and Brian Bury

Terri and Brian Bury are the parents of Sergeant Brandon Bury, a Marine who was killed in action on June 6, 2010 in Afghanistan. The Bury family has taken this tragic loss and demonstrated hope and courage to those in their community and beyond. They are leaders within the Gold Star Family community and have used this tragedy to build support for other Gold Star Families and wounded service members.

2013 Recipients

Military Honorees

COL Gregory D. Gadson, USA

Gregory has served in the Army for more than 24 years, inspiring both military and civilian alike. An IED attack in May 2007 caused severe wounds including the amputation of both legs above the knees and damage to his right arm. Regardless of his injuries, he has never stopped serving and caring for the soldiers in his commands. Today, he is the Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir and oversees more than 50,000 military personnel and civilian employees. Prior to this command, he managed the AW2, a program that supports and advocates for nearly 11,000 severely wounded, ill and injured soldiers.

COL Heather Meeds, SCARNG

Heather deployed twice to Iraq; from 2003-2004 and then again 2010-2011 and returned with both physical pains and psychological wounds. In spite of her personal struggles, concern for her fellow soldiers was her priority and she always put their needs before her own. After time in an inpatient treatment facility for PTSD, Heather has used her own personal experience to reach others. By sharing her story publicly, many have come forward, asking for help and direction. Heather will continue to reach out to her fellow service members, knowing that many more are still struggling in silence.

LtCol David Barnes, USMC (Ret.)

David first deployed to Iraq in 2003 and was hit by an IED. He was awarded a Purple Heart. He spent much of 2004 recovering from his injuries and returned to Iraq in 2005. He was awarded a Bronze Star during his second deployment. David deployed a third time to Pakistan in 2009. Injuries from these deployments include a severe concussion, hearing loss, traumatic brain injury, and severe back and shoulder injuries. After returning from his final deployment, David volunteered for another key command – Officer in Charge at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. There, he implemented programs to help the recovery of wounded Marines. He worked tirelessly for two years and, after he was confident that his programs were fully established, he finally underwent the reconstructive back surgery that he required.

LT D. Matthew Bartles, USNR

After a deployment to Afghanistan, Matthew entered the Military Wellness Program at Holliswood Hospital to tackle his PTSD. After completing the program, Matthew transitioned into a civilian career in financial services. He has reconnected with his family and community and has since married. He is an advocate for veterans’ issues and started a Military Mentorship Program at his company, using his own experiences to help other service members reintegrate into society.

Michael Roesch, Former Air Force

After four years in the Air Force, Michael returned to Long Island, struggling with PTSD. His formula for recovery includes his service dog Rex and giving back to other veterans and veterans’ causes. Michael is an active supporter of Hope For The Warriors® through volunteering and fundraising efforts at the Memorial 100 and many other athletic events. He is also an active member of the American Legion and the Patriot Guard.


Samantha Bradley, Gold Star Family

Samantha and her husband Mark were married for a little more than two years when he was wounded in Afganistan in June 2011. He soon after passed. During those initial days of mourning, Samantha formed close bonds with several Hope For The Warriors® staff members as she coped with her new life. Today, she supports military spouses by speaking to groups about the needs of the military community along with challenges faced by today’s service members. She is also creating an organization at her college to support student veterans struggling with PTSD.

Kathleen Kelly, Gold Star Family

Kathleen Kelly grew up witnessing the meaning of service and sacrifice – both of her grandfathers served during WWII and both of her brothers joined the Marine Corps after college. Her volunteer work supporting wounded service members began in 2003 when she was still in high school and expanded throughout the years of war. In 2010, she was more personally impacted when her brother was killed in Afghanistan. Kathleen now leads an athletic team that races in honor of her fallen brother and raises funds for a scholarship in his name.

Mary Nicholson, Courageous Caregiver

Mary Nicholson is the dedicated mother of Sgt Michael Nicholson, USMC, a triple-amputee injured in Afghanistan on July 6, 2011. In 2012, the family was given a new challenge when Mary’s husband was diagnosed with cancer. Despite their challenges, Mary led the entire family with a positive and strong vision. Mary continues to focus on the needs of each family member: Michael’s recovery, her husband’s treatments, and her older son Andrew, while volunteering with the Hope For The Warriors® scholarship committee.

Pam Voltin, Courageous Caregiver

Ryan Voltin, Pam’s husband, was severely wounded when his helicopter exploded into flames during a training exercise. As Ryan underwent multiple surgeries for his burns and leg amputation, Pam refused to let his injuries interrupt their life. She moved forward as planned, growing the family with two children while Ryan was in the medical center. Their fifth child is a beautiful girl they aptly named Hope. Pam pushed aside her personal fears of Ryan flying again and turned to Hope For The Warriors® with a Wish. She asked for help to pay for Ryan’s flight school, to put him back into the air—his true calling. Hope For The Warriors® proudly granted her Wish.

Service Provider

Charlie Wagner, Dedicated Volunteer

Charlie is a retired New York firefighter–but he has not retired from serving others. Since 9/11, he has been a Fire Department Counseling Unit volunteer. Now, Charlie volunteers for Hope For The Warriors®, attending luncheons each week at Holliswood Hospital for the Family Reintegration Program. He is also quick to help service members and military families with their various needs. Holiday barbeques, fishing trips, extra outings and more—there is no limit to what he will do for our families. Recently, he instituted an additional support group at the hospital, bringing service members together and inviting first responders and veterans as guest speakers.

2012 Recipients

Military Honorees

CPO Holly Crabtree, USN

Crabtree's deployment as a corpsman ended abruptly when she took a gunshot wound to the head by a sniper. Although not expected to heal well, her recovery has exceeded all expectations and she continues to work hard each day to regain her independence. This hard work has also been recognized by her command and she was promoted to her present rank post-injury. Crabtree, a single mother, continues to balance her rehabilitative needs with the needs of a young daughter. Beyond work and home, Crabtree has discovered a love of sailing and utilizes the sport as part of her recovery.

Lt Col Eric Holt, USAF

Holt is an anesthesiologist who has used his medical expertise in the treatment of countless wounded service members-himself included. In January 2009, his armored Humvee drove over an IED, throwing him nearly 30 meters and hitting a concrete wall. He spent more than one year in rehabilitation. His experience gave him invaluable insight into the military medical system and he continues his hard work to help other injured service members. This summer, he will begin a fellowship in Pain Management to continue his work.

SSG John Masters, USAR

Masters was completing his sixth combat deployment when his right hand was severely wounded by an explosion, requiring extensive reconstructive surgery. While undergoing rehabilitation, Masters channeled his energy into Team Hope For The Warriors®. Since joining the Team, he has competed many challenging races including marathons, triathlons and relays. More importantly, he acts as a leader and a mentor to other service members and Team members and has become an outstanding representative for the athletic needs of our wounded community.

CPT Lewis Larkin O'Hern III, USA

On December 31, 2010, O'Hern was in Afghanistan with the 101st Airborne Division. An IED explosion caused severe wounds including the amputation of both legs and his right hand. In spite of these wounds, O'Hern approaches his life and his long road to recovery with boundless strength, courage, and hope. The son of a soldier, O'Hern had always intended to make the Army his career. Now, he stands proud and ready to take on a new goal and is applying for the Army Congressional Fellowship Program.

Cpl Manuel (Manny) Ocia Jimenez, USMC

On August 1, Jimenez was hit by a 40-pound IED while on foot patrol. His injuries are severe, including the loss of his left arm above the elbow, traumatic brain injury and the loss of hearing in his left ear. Since his injury, Manny has become an avid runner and, as with everything he does, a fierce competitor. He began running only months after his injuries, quickly increasing his distances. He soon joined Team Hope For The Warriors® and through the Team has competed in marathons, half marathons and triathlons. When he is medically retired, he plans to return to Connecticutto be near his family and pursue his college degree in physical education.

Family of Wounded or Fallen Heroes

Noemy Hall, Courageous Caregiver

Oftentimes, hidden wounds are the most difficult to accept and this was no different for the Hall family. As her husband suffered from TBI and PTSD, Noemy did her best to keep his injury private and hidden. In time however, that proved too difficult, so now, she takes on a new role. Noemy stands proud as the wife and caregiver of a wounded soldier who has sacrificed so much for our nation. Those roles, along with mother and homeschool teacher, depend on her endless love for her family and her overwhelming strength.

Shannon Hayes, Gold Star Family

MSgt John Hayes, USMC, was killed in action three years ago in Afghanistan. Together since high school, his widow Shannon was left to continue the work of two parents alone. Their three children, ranging in age from toddler to teenager, turned to their mother to carry on the strength, character, and presence of their father. Shannon has done just that. She continues to raise her children as she and her husband planned, giving each a future with hope and courage.

Bob Smith, Parental Caregiver-Awarded Posthumously

LCpl Colin Smith, USMC, was deployed to Iraq in 2006 where he was severely wounded in combat. Suffering from traumatic brain injury, his father, Bob, was told that Colin would never walk or speak again. Refusing to listen, Bob's determination and dedication gave Colin the support needed to aid in his rehabilitation. In planning Colin's future, Bob, with the help of Hope For The Warriors®, purchased a home in his son's name so that Colin would always have a place to live, mortgage-free, and surrounded by family and the people who love him. Sadly, Bob passed away in 2011, but Colin remains in his home, just as Bob planned.

Special Recognition

SGT Christopher Duke and dog, Rufus

Rufus was a stray dog in Afghanistan, adopted by Duke's National Guard Battalion. But this dog provided more than company-one night, he and other dogs saved the lives of the unit from a suicide bomber. A year later, Hope For The Warriors® supported A Warrior's Wish® to reunite Rufus and another hero dog, Target, with their owners. Today, Rufus has been trained to be a service dog and is ready to continue serving with Duke.


2011 Recipients

Military Honorees

GySgt Matthew Austin, USMC

After his injuries forced an early return from Afghanistan, Austin identified gaps in support needed by wounded service members. Taking his focus away from his own wounds, Austin worked tirelessly to ensure that each returning service member in his unit received the medical and emotional care needed.

SSG Dale I. Beatty, NCARNG (Ret.)

Beatty is the co-founder of Purple Heart Homes, a nonprofit organization that helps wounded veterans with necessary home modifications. As a double amputee, Beatty is an active advocate for wounded service members from all wars and conflicts. He is also a trustee on the Fisher House Board of Directors.

SSgt Nicholas Bradley, USAF (Ret.)

Bradley defied his doctors' predictions and walked out of the hospital, despite multiple wounds, in two months instead of one year. As a full-time civilian worker on the military base, full-time student and father, Bradley demonstrates hope and courage in every way.

SPC Hugo L. Gonzalez, USA (Ret.)

Legally blind and working through issues of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic epilepsy, Gonzalez demonstrates everyday his thankfulness for all that he have been given. In each conversation, he expresses gratitude for his life, his service and for the love and support of his family.

PO1 Joseph Ruggiero, USCG

Ruggiero made history when a vessel filled with explosives detonated near his boat, making him the first Purple Heart recipient in the Coast Guard since the Vietnam War. His actions to save his shipmates following the attack earned him the Bronze Star with Valor. Although Ruggiero faces ongoing medical operations, he continues to volunteer for deployments and serve with honor and courage.

SCPO Anthony Shattuck, USN

Shots fired via machine gun damaged Shattuck's internal organs during a difficult battle in Afghanistan. After being put in a medically induced coma, he woke up two weeks later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. In spite of his wounds and ongoing mild traumatic brain injury, Shattuck has returned to his original unit, ready to deploy and serve again.

Family of Wounded or Fallen Honorees

Reneé Ayres

Since her husband returned wounded from Iraq in 2004, Ayres has become a caregiver, advocate, medical specialist, social worker, and now political activist for her husband and for all wounded service members. She now uses her experience to help other spouses and family members. She also works with congressional representatives to address needed changes in medical care.

Christian Haerter and Michelle Severance

Christian's son, LCpl Jordan Haerter, USMC, was killed in Iraq on April 22, 2008. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross and hailed by President Obama, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, the Secretary of the Navy, and others. In Jordan's honor, Christian and his partner Michelle founded Jordan's Initiative, a nonprofit foundation to support deployed service members, combat veterans and their families.

CDR Laurie Lanca, USNR

As a nurse in the Naval Reserves, Lanca has personally cared for many wounded service members at the National Naval Medical Center. Her brother, also a Navy Reservist, was activated for a year-long deployment. Eight months after his return, he died of suicide. Lanca turned her pain into political action as she addressed the need for better mental health care at all VA hospitals.

Kim Ruocco

A suicide survivor (husband died of suicide) and the mother of two young boys, Ruocco has spent the last four years using her personal tragedy to save other people's lives. She is now the Director of Suicide Outreach and Education for TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors).


2010 Recipients

LT Jason “Jay” Redman, USN (SEAL)

With only three weeks left of his deployment in Iraq, Jay was hit three times in the arm and face with a machine gun while on a mission. He arrived at Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center in September 2007 and was known for a sign on his door that read, “If you are coming into my room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere.” After a long road of recovery, Jay now dedicates himself to a new cause—Wounded Wear, a nonprofit with the mission to raise awareness about the sacrifices of wounded heroes and the skilled medical personnel that support them.

SSgt Meghan Duprey, USAF

As a combat videographer, Meghan always enjoyed being a part of something larger than herself. In the midst of battle, she would often set down her camera to help medics, clear debris, find bodies and transport wounded soldiers On March 23, 2008, a suicide bomber detonated a vehicle-born IED in Mosul, Iraq and Meghan was tasked with documenting relief efforts. After this, she began suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and now struggles daily with memory loss, concentration issues, flashbacks and panic attacks. She represents the courage of those with unseen injuries but continues to look forward.

Cpl Matt Bradford, USMC

In 2007, Matt conducted a foot patrol in Haditha, Iraq when an IED blew up beneath his feet leaving him in a coma with one above- and one below-the-knee amputation. He spent the last two years in the rehabilitation program at the Center For The Intrepid in San Antonio, TX applying his characteristic drive and determination. On April 7, 2010 he made history when he became the first blind, double amputee to reenlist in the Marine Corps. Matt stands ready to take over his new job mentoring injured Marines in his new position with the Wounded Warriors Battalion East, Camp Lejeune, NC.

SPC Brendan Marrocco, USA

In 2009, Brendan survived a blast that left him as the U.S. military’s first surviving quadruple amputee. The quick actions of his buddies, an emergency blood drive, and 60 units of blood saved his life in the field. He was brought to Walter Reed National Naval Medical Center for recovery and astounded everyone by standing six months later at his unit’s homecoming. Brendan continues his treatment at Walter Reed and looks forward to the day when he can pursue his dream of working with cars.

Anne Adkins, Gold Star Mom

With all the sacrifices Anne has made being a mom and the Vice President of Marketing at Raycom Media, the none compared to when her son, CPL Matthew T. Bolar, USA, laid down his life for his country. Matthew’s Army career began on September 11, 2001 and he was on his second tour in Iraq when he was killed by and IED explosion in May 2007. Anne is determined to not let her son and other service members be forgotten and has become involved with Hope For The Warriors® to achieve this goal.

Mary Gallagher, Voice Of The Family

For years, Mary dedicated herself to being a strong Marine Corps wife by supporting her husband’s career, joining several military organizations and raising their children while her husband was deployed. However, after her husband, GySgt James Gallagher, returned from Iraq in 2005 he began falling apart and shockingly took his life in May 2006. Mary now works with Hope For The Warriors® and several other national organizations on the issue of suicide prevention.

Cindy Traub, Courage Of A Caregiver

Cindy was a busy woman with two sons at home when her husband, SSgt Carl Traub, deployed to Iraq in 2005 with the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team. On October 30, 2005 Cindy received a call telling her that Carl had lost both legs, incurred arm injuries, was paralyzed and may not live. More than 50 surgeries and five successful years later, the Traub family exemplifies the commitment of caregivers and the goal of “hope beyond recovery.” Carl is now healthy, medically retired and enrolled in college with his family by his side every step of the way.