Eric Ballester

Graduated Sentinel
Master Sargent, U.S. Air Force

Master of Business Administration, University of Arizona

Coming from a family with a strong military background, it was an easy decision for Eric to also join the armed forces, and he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force after high school. His decision to continue his career was reaffirmed after the attacks on 9/11/2001. During his 20 years in the service, he deployed 10 times to multiple countries. It was during these deployments he suffered injuries that would affect the rest of his life. Transitioning from active duty to civilian life was a struggle but the help received by attending rehab for brain injuries, counseling, and other programs that have sponsored him for various therapies has helped him continue to grow and guide him in his recovery and adjustment to retirement. During his time with USSOCOM, he was told about Sentinels of Freedom and how we help veterans like himself.

Eric was accepted to SoF for the fall 2021 cohort and has been assisted with financial support and counseling, networking connections, mentoring connections, and support of a case manager, while he attended the University of Arizona for his MBA. SoF was also able to assist Eric’s wife, Sandra, with a connection and resources for employment and was hired on to work with veterans and their families with Arizona Coalition for Military and Families, Be Connected. Eric graduated in December 2022 and currently lives in Arizona with his wife and son, working on continuing to build the non-profit he co-founded, Shields and Stripes – an organization that assists disabled veterans and first responders with retreats that focus on healing through multiple naturopathic therapies and activities.

“SOFBEP [SoF Bridge for Education Program] doesn’t just say they care; they have the best staff of professionals who are engaged and truly care about my welfare and my family’s health… My family and I are grateful for the opportunity to be accepted to the Sentinels of Freedom family. I’m thankful to the patriots that donate to this cause, and please pass my gratitude to them; they’ve made a positive impact by helping me return from war.”

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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