Jazzmen Blackwell

Graduated Sentinel Quarter Master Petty Officer Second Class (QM2), U.S. Navy
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Duke University

Growing up in a low-income family, options for college were very small, and attending wasn’t a reality for Jazzmen at the time. She didn’t have the resources or support to help get her in a place where going to college was an option, and living at home wasn’t a good situation. She craved stability and opportunity and knew the military could give her both and eventually allow her to pursue higher education. Jazzmen joined the Navy right out of high school and served as a Quarter Master with the Naval Service Squadron.

Complications from an infection caused long-term issues and chronic pain. After 5 years of active service, Jazzmen completed active service with an honorable discharge in 2019 and went on to continue serving in a reservist capacity for 2 more years.

Jazzmen began her academic career in 2017 while still on active duty but struggled with the transition to college and the shock of school. She attended a Warrior Scholar Project Boot Camp at Princeton in 2019 where she learned tools to help her with the transition and to be successful. She completed her first BS degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina in 2021. Her experience growing up with poor access to health care is where her passion for health care began and her experience with neglect and poor care from the military healthcare system with her health issues added fuel to this passion. Having a background in psychology will help her with her long-term goals of working in psychiatric mental health care. She applied and was accepted to Duke University’s nursing program for non-nursing majors – a degree path intended for students who have previously earned a bachelor’s degree in another focus and are working towards their registered nurse license. It was her experience with the Warrior Scholar Project where she met fellow graduated sentinels who told Jazzmen about the Sentinels of Freedom Bridge for Education Program and how we support veterans like herself pursuing higher education.

Sentinels of Freedom proudly accepted Jazzmen into the Spring 2022 Cohort and began supporting her with networking opportunities, assistance with affording her NCLEX prep course, mentor connection, financial counseling, career counseling, and a monthly financial subsidy to help offset the cost of living while working towards her degree. Jazzmen worked hard and stayed focused on her goals and successfully graduated from Duke University in May 2023. She has been offered and accepted a position as an Intensive Care Unit Nurse. Sentinels of Freedom is proud of Jazzmen and all she has accomplished and knows she will continue to succeed in her career as well!

“[Sentinels of Freedom] helped me navigate a tough financial situation with having to live separately from my fiancé for the duration of my program. They connected me with Resume support when the time came for me to start applying to jobs as a new grad RN. And anytime I had questions or needed guidance they did their best to support me in anyway they could. For that I will forever be grateful!”

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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