James (Jayme) Hentig

Specialist, U.S. Army
Ph.D. Biology, University of Notre Dame

After graduating high school, Jayme felt intimidated and scared of going to college and instead elected to join the U.S. Army. He felt the military seemed like a promising trajectory for a career path and intended to stay for 20+ years, however, that all changed when he was injured during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2009. It was during this deployment that he was involved in a vehicle rollover which led to spinal nerve damage and a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that causes seizures. Being a medic and treating combat-injured soldiers, as well as facing the death of several people, Jayme also developed PTSD. Jayme has learned through therapy to use journaling and other mechanisms to accommodate his brain injury and other daily obstacles he faces.

Witnessing and treating numerous TBIs in the field and then becoming a victim of one himself, motivated Jayme to pursue the neurogeneration field of research – which is the intersection of neuroscience and regenerative medicine. After researching different programs, he applied to Notre Dame to be able to work with internationally recognized scientists in the field. Not only did he gain experience working in a world-class environment and an education from a top university, but his department also encouraged and nurtured Jayme’s passion and supported his vision. Having that support paid off and Jayme’s work has been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, several pilot grants, and other fellowships.

While attending Notre Dame, the VA representative at his school told him about Sentinels of Freedom (SOF) and how we could assist him while pursuing such a demanding path. Jayme was accepted to SOF for the spring 2020 cohort. During his time with SOF, he was supported with a mentor connection, resume-building assistance, networking opportunities, and the personalized support of a case manager. He was also supported financially with a monthly subsidy as well as provided financial counseling to help start and manage a budget – something that proved useful while living on a limited income allowing him to not have to work and focus solely on his research. During his time in school, Jayme developed quite a bit of experience with grant writing. Having secured over $500,000 in grants and becoming quite good at it, he decided to share what he has learned with other Sentinels and provided workshops and tips. Jayme also volunteered with Warrior Scholar Project as a STEM mentor helping transitioning service members get into higher education. This was an immersive program where veterans spend a week during the summer and participate in research. Jayme would spend the full week with them giving tours of his lab, discussing his experiences with the GI Bill, and academia (STEM specifically) in general.

Jayme graduated from Notre Dame in December 2021 with cum laude honors and was offered a dream position through General Dynamics Information Technology as a Research Scientist focusing on TBIs at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center at Ft. Carson, CO. His work has been published several times and received several awards. He and his wife, Laura, happily live in CO with their 5 dogs.

I have been fortunate enough to have received several fellowships over the tenure of my graduate degree, but no group has matched the support and reassurance that SoF has. This program is something I recommend to all of my veteran friends and has truly made a tangible difference in my life.”

  • James Hentig, Fall 2021 Biannual Review

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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