Dear Staff and Supporters of Sentinels of Freedom,

As I have recently completed my Ph.D. as a Sentinel Scholar, I wanted to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for all of your support throughout my academic journey. Your support has directly influenced my personal success at the University of San Diego but has also had a ripple effect beyond the classroom. Your backing has resulted in my ability to also pursue and attain professional success. As a Sentinel Scholar, I attained my desired post-doctoral job prior to finishing my degree. This job not only allows me to succeed as a professional in the area I love but also has an enormous impact on the community that we care for, the military community. Additionally, your care and guidance along the path have relieved much of the strain on my wife and me during a very stressful period. This has allowed her to focus more fully on her professional life. As a result, our marriage remains healthy, even stronger.

It goes without saying that the financial support provided by SOF has directly benefited my family. The funding I received allowed me to finish my education without taking on debt. Since I had utilized my G.I. Bill attaining my undergraduate and master’s degree, SOF financial support addressed the gap that would usually be covered by military benefits. The intangible support provided by SOF was just as significant as the financial support. Unlike military benefits, I felt like SOF actually cared for me personally and I had additional people on my team encouraging me to be as successful as possible. When I had a question, concern, or request, Carol and others were always there to answer my questions, seek out additional resources, or just offer a word of encouragement. That type of support does not come with a price tag.

As a Sentinel Alumnus, I commit to being an ambassador that SOF will hold in high regard. I believe that it is vital that our veteran community strive to continue to serve our nation beyond military service. I will strive to continue to have a positive impact on the community while also working with other veterans to encourage them to invest in their own spheres of influence in a positive way. This will include expressing the value of Sentinels of Freedom.

Thank you for your support and investment in my success!

Derek Abbey, Ph.D.