Chelsie Sharpe, Graduated Sentinel

Electronics Technician Petty Officer Third Class (ET3), U.S. Navy
Bachelor of Social Work, Texas A&M
Master of Social Work, University of South Florida

Originally from a small town in the center of California, Chelsie grew up feeling like it wasn’t enough for her. She wanted to do her part, make a difference, and travel. Despite winning a scholarship for college, Chelsie opted to join the Navy instead and enlisted at 17 years old with her parent’s consent. She immediately left for boot camp after high school graduation and began her adventure as a Sailor. During her 6 years of active duty, Chelsie completed 2 deployments aboard the USS BOXER/LHD-4 Naval ship pulling into ports such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel, Jordan, Oman, and Bahrain. The conditions of shipboard life and being a part of a very demanding command contributed to the development of anxiety and chronic pain issues. The situations she faced and was involved in led to the development of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Following her honorable discharge in 2017, her transition from active duty to civilian life was a little difficult. Chelsie took the time out to focus on her mental health and relationships while also using physical therapy for her injury recovery. While there are still days she struggles a little, she manages with the tools she has learned.

With the support from her husband, family, and friends, as well as her drive to do great things for her children, she continued to overcome hardships and has learned that she can handle more than she thought.Learning time management and multi-tasking while facing a lack of sleep and heavy workloads on active duty forced her to learn to be resilient, a trait she carries to this day and reminds herself of when she needs that extra nudge to keep going. Recognizing all of this in herself, she sought to achieve her career goals, turning her passion of helping people into her next mission of becoming a social worker. Starting out at Texas A&M, she earned her Bachelor of Social Work in May 2021 and was quickly accepted to an MSW program to begin that fall. It was during her undergrad that Chelsie was told about the Sentinels of Freedom Bridge for Education program from another Sentinel and applied. Chelsie was accepted to the Spring 2020 Cohort, where Sentinels of Freedom was able to offer support during a worldwide pandemic – giving Chelsie and her family more security during unprecedented times. Chelsie was supported with a mentor connection, networking opportunities, career coaching, resume building, professional and personal development opportunities, personalized support of a case manager, financial counseling, and financial support in the form of a monthly subsidy to help offset the cost of living while pursuing higher education.

Shortly after her acceptance to Sentinels of Freedom and graduating with her BSW, Chelsie’s active-duty husband was given orders to Florida, forcing Chelsie to make the decision of putting her education on hold or applying to a new program. Chelsie applied to the University of South Florida and was able to transition to a new program while managing a military permanent change of station (PCS), having 2 children under 3, a husband preparing to deploy, and expecting a third baby –the life of a military spouse in full force, and still managed to complete her program and hold fast. Her hard work paid off and she completed her Master of Social Work in May 2023 from the University of South Florida with honors. Chelsie’s impressive work ethic, knowledge, and compassion for her patients during her internship led to an offer of employment at the Veterans Affairs Primary Care Mental Health Intervention Department.

Sentinels of Freedom is extremely proud of Chelsie and look forward to seeing her continue to crush her goals and be an advocate for other veterans!

“I extend my sincerest appreciation to the entire scholarship organization for the faith and support you have shown me. Your belief in my abilities has instilled in me a renewed sense of purpose and motivation, propelling me toward my goals with unwavering determination. I am eternally grateful for your generosity, and I hope to one day pay it forward by supporting future students in their pursuit of education and success. Thank you once again for your unwavering support. Please accept my deepest gratitude for everything you have done for me. I will forever carry the impact of your assistance in my heart.”

Bridge for Education Program


 Sentinels of Freedom’s Bridge for Education program helps severely wounded post-9/11 veterans with comprehensive personal support and financial assistance as they complete their higher education and achieve success in their post-military careers.

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