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Sergeant, U.S. Army
Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Tennessee Knoxville
Keith Bessler enlisted in the U.S. Army 8 months after high school after being unable to secure employment. He decided to join the Infantry because he felt it would allow him the best opportunity to serve his country while still pushing himself both mentally and physically. One year into his enlistment Keith deployed to eastern Afghanistan with the 4th brigade 10th Mountain Division. Keith was injured by a gunshot wound, shrapnel, a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and subsequent post-traumatic stress (PTS). Upon his return from Afghanistan he found himself both battered and beaten but willing to try and fix his injuries so that he could further pursue his dreams in the Army. Unfortunately, his injuries resulted in making him unfit for duty and forced into a medical retirement.
Following his time in the military, Keith decided to pursue a career in the health field and knew his best option would be through nursing. He enrolled at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville Caylor School of Nursing for a Bachelor of Science degree graduating Magna Cum Laude and becoming the first person in his family to earn a college degree. He was also accepted to the nursing honor society, Sigma Theta Tau, which is only awarded to the top third of the class and is a lifelong honor and achievement. Sentinels of Freedom assisted Keith with two years of financial support as well as with the cost of his national licensing nursing exam.
Keith continues to live in the Knoxville, TN area where he was able to purchase a home with his wife Kacy and their sons, Karson and his new baby brother, Karter. During his time with SOF, Kacy was also able to return to school and complete her associates in nursing. Keith hopes to eventually become a Nurse Anesthesiologist after gaining nursing experience at the University of Tennessee Medical Center where he now works as a Registered Nurse.
“As we all know, life comes at you full speed and loves the opportunity to knock you down when it can. Sometimes it seemed like it never stopped but one of the most valuable things that I was given at SOF was someone to talk to. Some days I felt so overwhelmed, tired, and beaten down, but I knew I could call Carol and I cannot tell you home many times she has helped me out in countless aspects of my transition….Sentinels of Freedom helped me realize what I am capable of outside of the military, that as veterans we are strong and an absolute force when we set our minds to something.”