Corporal, U.S. Marine Corps
Master of Arts in Global Leadership from University of San Diego

At first, Matt had a smooth transition from the military to civilian life. A decorated Marine, he returned home following a traumatic brain injury sustained in Iraq. Matt hit the ground running, receiving his undergraduate degree in fewer than four years and landing a respectable job soon thereafter.

However, his injuries were more than physical. Several years after he left active duty, Matt began to experience mental and psychological difficulties that were tied to his experiences in combat. And, as he explains, “When they hit, they hit like a ton of bricks.”

Matt met his problems head-on, deciding to go back to school, to focus on his abilities, and to find new ways of serving others. But with one young child and a baby on the way, pursuing his graduate degree was no simple task. As he explains, “For 12 months, I worked 60 hours (about 2 and a half days) a week and went to school full time.” In those same 12 months, Matt’s wife Kelsey was also attending school, working part-time, and creating a business of her own.

As Matt explains, “We were full to the brim with things to worry about.” With the added worry of his GI Bill soon running out, the pressure only grew. “It created a great deal of stress in our family,” he explains. “That is, until Sentinels of Freedom (SOF) came to the rescue.”

SOF helped Matt finance his last semester at school. The program also connected him with a mentor who helped him learn about financial planning. That gave Matt the time and energy to focus on his education. He received his master’s degree in global leadership from University of San Diego, graduating with honors.

“Without the Sentinels of Freedom, I wouldn’t have completed this degree, or I’d have had to take on a significant amount of debt to get it done,” he says. “The lessening of this burden allowed me to excel in my coursework all the way to the end.” Now that he is earned his master’s degree, Matt looks forward to advancing his career with Aleworks Brewery where he is the Director of Operations.