Class of June 2017
We're proud to introduce our newest High Ground Veterans Advocacy Fellows!
Scott Crawford enlisted as an infantry rifleman in the United States Marine Corps in 2006. After being deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan with First Battalion Third Marines, Scott received an Honorable Discharge in 2010. Scott is currently a Juris Doctor candidate at UNT Dallas College of Law and is active in veteran advocacy and community reintegration.
"Veterans receive extensive training during their time in service, which is recorded in an academic transcript. Too many veterans either don’t take advantage of these credits, or only do so later when they have already taken college courses which would have otherwise been unnecessary. This is wasteful and inefficient. I'd like to see those transcripts automatically submitted to the school when a service member submits the necessary documentation to receive the GI Bill benefit. Adding this regulatory function will save tax dollars, preserve a veteran’s benefit for further education, and allow veterans to earn degrees quicker."
Lobsang "Mike" Salaka
Lobsang Salaka served in the US Army as an automated logistical specialist and completed three combat tours. His assignments included NCOIC of 10th MTN General Supply Branch (GSB) NCOIC, ISAF Humanitarian Relief Aid NCOIC, DoD reverse logistics Operation NCO. He obtained an MBA from the State University of New York in 2014. He is perusing an Executive MPA at the School of International Public Affairs at Columbia University in the City of New York. Currently, he is involved with many non-profit organizations including VSOs and MSOs.
"I am shocked that the veterans community experiences such a high suicidal rate, unemployment rate, homeless, and mental health issues including TBI and PTSD. If we can make them into soldiers, then we need to make them who they were. We can accomplish this by providing individualized counseling to navigate benefits and services what they entitled. Soldiers leaving service must be mentally and physically ready to move on with their lives. For that, the Congress must ensure that veterans receive support during their transition period to aid them personally and professionally ready for civilian life."
Rollande "Rollie" Sampson
Rollie served in the Massachusetts National Guard as a supply specialist from 1994-1996 before accepting a Regular Army Commission as an Engineer Officer in the spring of 1996. She left the service in 1999 and has spent the past 20 years as a military spouse. She has volunteered in a variety of roles advocating on behalf of military families and is the Chair of the Military Family Council in Moore County, NC. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling through Wake Forest University.
"Addressing the needs of the entire family unit improves a veteran’s long-term outcomes for recovery and healthy relationships with their immediate family members. Behavioral health care plans should include family, especially for caregivers and children of veterans with PTSD or other mental health concerns"
Robert served as an aviation supply clerk in the United State Marine Corps from 2012-2015. His duty stations include bases in North Carolina, Japan, and South Korea. Currently, he is pursuing his bachelor's at Fordham University majoring in both political science and economics.
"Veterans have unique and specific needs when it comes to the field of education. Taking some time off from the classroom for service can make for difficult reintegration back to a full time classroom setting. Often , this results in veterans taking longer than the average student to complete their degrees. Reasons such as this is why extending the GI Bill's time limit is necessary, as well as extending the benefit to those who have been previously denied it, among other educational benefits."
Jeff served as a U.S. Navy Journalist from 2000-2008, becoming a plank owner at AFN Naples, Italy, and covering the Olympics at AFN Souda Bay, Crete, Greece. He continues to serve as a communications assistant at the Military Order of the Purple Heart.
"Whether they hail from upstate New York, Texas hill country, or the Midwestern waves of grain, rural veterans leave small businesses and family farms to volunteer for military service that takes them to faraway lands where they routinely serve with distinction. Since the small town Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine is there when the nation calls, Congress must ensure these unique veterans are properly cared for when they return home to the heartland. America sent them thousands of miles away to protect the country, so distance must not be a factor in their healthcare at home."