Specialist, U.S. Army
Software Engineering Certificates, Galvanize

Having pride in his country and in the people who came before him who paid the ultimate price for his life, Phil followed in his brother’s footsteps becoming a medic with the 3/75th Ranger Regiment. During his first deployment in Afghanistan Phil was wounded during a firefight while closing in with the enemy on a night raid. A bullet traveled up his dominant forearm causing severely limited function in his right hand. After completing physical therapy and coming to the realization that he would continue to have limited function in his hand, Phil faced a difficult reality that his career goals would have to change. No longer having full function of his hand meant that he could not follow his dream of becoming a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). He had to learn to come to terms with the limitations he now faced and in turn find a new passion that he could achieve.

Phil initially learned about Sentinels of Freedom while staying at Walter Reed where he met Mike Conklin in 2016. At that time, he was unsure of his direction with school and where he saw himself once his medical retirement was complete. Sentinels of Freedom gave Phil the encouragement to reach out when he felt he was ready for our support. In 2018, Phil completed his Sentinels of Freedom application and was accepted for his plan to attend Arizona State University (ASU) for a degree in Construction Management. Unfortunately, weeks after being accepted, Phil became unsure of his plan and decided to withdraw from school and pursue his Real Estate Agent License before any SOF support could be started. SOF supported his decision and encouraged him to reach out if he ever decided that furthering his school education was going to be needed in his future.

Towards the end of 2019, Phil reached back out to Sentinels of Freedom and provided an updated application with new goals and new direction. After taking a few web-development courses at ASU he found an interest in computer software programming and identified a remote software engineering program, the Hack Reactor Software Engineering Immersive Program through Galvanize to achieve the certificates he needed to become employable. This program would allow Phil to attain a remote position where he could see more of his young family which really drew him to the software world. Phil did not desire any financial support from SOF but was extremely interested in mentoring and networking opportunities that would assist him in finding a meaningful career after achieving his certificates. Over the next few months, SOF continued to check in with him on his progress and eventually put him in contact with General Dynamics Mission Systems (GDMS). Phil is now working towards completing his bachelor’s degree in graphic information technology from ASU and is a full-time employee with GDMS as a web application support technician. He is now able to spend more time at home with his wife, Ava, and their two daughters. Phil is looking forward to the future where he hopes to become an autonomous and proficient software developer at GDMS. Once he completes his undergraduate degree, he wants to focus time building an application that will help make county construction permits accessible to construction trade salesperson.

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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Sentinels of Freedom has helped over 700 Veterans since 2007. Their stories are empowering and inspiring.


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