Jen Housholder

Jennifer D. Housholder is a flight test engineer, Army Reservist, and musician. Born in New Brighton, PA, Jennifer graduated from Louisiana State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Mathematics and promptly began her military career in the Air Force as an F-22 Electronic Warfare test engineer at Edwards Air Force Base (AFB), CA. Later she transitioned from active duty Air Force to the Army National Guard/Reserves in order to fly the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, fulfilling a childhood dream of hers.

Jen has more than years of combined active duty and reserve service including 2 deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).  She served in various leadership roles to include S2 (Intelligence Officer), A-S3 (Assistant Operations Officer), and Tactics Operations Officer (TACOPS) at the Battalion unit level, and Airspace Operations Officer at the Brigade unit level.  Jennifer obtained the rank of Major, but later reverted to a Chief Warrant Officer in order to focus on flying.

Currently, she is a Department of Defense (DOD) civilian employee assigned as the Radar and Targeting Pod Lead Engineer for the 419th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) at Edwards AFB, CA. She leads a team of engineers in the flight testing of new software and hardware changes related to the radar and targeting pod systems on the B-1B, B-2A, and B-52 bomber platforms. She is Acquisition Test and Evaluation Level III certified with over 15 years of flight test experience. Jen compliments her civilian profession with her 16 plus years of combined active duty and reserve service including 2 deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). She served in various leadership roles to include S2 (Intelligence Officer), A-S3 (Assistant Operations Officer), and Tactics Operations Officer (TACOPS) at the Battalion unit level, and Airspace Operations Officer at the Brigade unit level. Jennifer obtained the rank of Major, but later reverted to a Chief Warrant Officer in order to focus on flying.

A certified Master Resilience Trainer (MRT) with a powerful message of resilience from own personal experience, Jen teaches both service members and civilians skills to build and develop their resilience. As a survivor of childhood trauma and having endured the effects of combat experience, Jen knows firsthand the value of resilience in persevering through life’s many challenges and adversities. And for those who struggle with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and/or suicidal idealization, she shares a message of hope that real healing does exist, and the effective resources available to facilitate that healing. She is sought out by active duty, Veteran, and civilian organizations to share her story of survival, healing, and the incalculable value of investing in resilience.

When she is not working as an engineer or on Reserve duty, Jen is the lead singer of Hous Band. Driven with a purpose to make a meaningful difference in society, Jen’s mission is to create music that evokes thought, reflection, and action that ultimately inspire the best qualities of life. The title track of her current album, Stay with Me, was written about the challenges facing service men and women coming home from combat and re-integrating back into civilian life. Stay with Me has touched many of our men and women in the military and their loved ones, and is the number one download of the album. Not all her songs are about military life; there are songs about love, heartbreak, and the interesting people we meet along life’s journey. Jen and her band have performed all over southern CA at venues like the House of Blues and The Roxy in West Hollywood. Her music reflects her life experiences, a deep desire to touch lives, and a passion to connect with people in a real and genuine way.

Kyle Butcher

Kyle Butcher Grew up in small town in Georgia with dreams of being in the Special Forces. A competitive kid, Kyle Enlisted in the Army in 2002 almost a year before his HS graduation with the goal of becoming an Army Ranger. He completed Basic Training, Advanced Individual Training, Javelin School, Airborne School, and Ranger Indoctrination Program and was selected to the 3rd Ranger Battalion, deployed to Afghanistan from January 2003 through April 2004, receiving the Army Commendation Medal.

Graduating from the Ranger Tab- (the Army Ranger training school) class of September 2004, Kyle deployed to Mosul, Iraq that same month and was injured in combat two months later, after which he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal and Purple Heart.

Healing his physical wounds after the disappointment of not being able to serve as a Ranger, Kyle found out that healing the mental wounds is an ongoing battle.

Honorably Discharged from Army on July 25, 2005, Kyle moved to Texas and join a land company in Fort Worth in September of that year. Kyle had a lot of faith in his ability to learn anything he set his mind to and he became a "land man", a term as foreign to him as some of the cities he'd been in Afghanistan. With a strong will to succeed he learned as much as he could about the oil and gas industry; while teaching himself GIS mapping. Kyle now provides quality workmanship for Colt Exploration with precision and accuracy and commitment he used as a member of the elite 75th Ranger Regiment. Now nine years after coming home he has earned his way to a partnership at Colt Exploration Company, Incorporated.

Struggling every day with adjusting, he finds that he has good days and bad days but he believes that you get up, keep moving and keep setting and achieving goals. He still wants those challenges that comes with "Ranger Life" but he applies those challenges to his business, and has made a new life for himself and his family by continuing to exude the same commitment, passion and determination to succeed that he displayed as a Ranger.

Kyle discovered Phoenix Patriot Foundation from a teammate when he competed in the Warrior Games. Participation and competition in the Never Quit Challenge and jet-ski races he has used those events to continue to relive moments of excitement and hardships with his fellow soldiers that are participating in these events.

Kyle feels he can make a difference in the lives of veterans by spreading the word and reaching out about the possibilities Phoenix Patriot Foundation is providing.

Tui

SFC Tuimalealiifano was born 11 March 1979 in America Samoa. His family moved to the United States to seek better opportunites for the future when he was 6 years old. Struggling as an immigrant family in a foreign country with parents who were ministers laid the foundation that shaped the character traits Sgt. Tui would always be known for: compassion, respect, faith, and hard work.

Sualauvi joined the US Army in June of 1997, three weeks after graduating high school and proceeded to maximize the oppportunities the service offered. His confidence, capability, athleticism, and leadership skills exploded in the military environment: as a Paratrooper, a Jumpmaster, a combat veteran of multiple deployments and national disaster recovery relief efforts (Hurricane Katrina and Rita), and a top secret security clearance Special Operations soldier.

SFC Tui married another Ft. Bragg soldier in 2000 and has three children, two boys and one girl. His oldest son is a cancer survivor and SFT Tui has taken on his parents as his dependents to provide for them in their golden years as health issues and costs have overwhelmed them. He continues to reach out to other wounded soldiers in their struggle to battle depression and relationship difficulties with their families. He and his wife are registered peer mentors with several national wounded warrior programs, including Wounded Warrior Project. He was invited to speak to Airmen who support Medevac (medical evacuation) flights to give them personal insight to their impact on the lives of service members and their families. SFC Tui was also invited to speak to newly wounded, by an Army Chaplain, during orientation classes for the Warrior Transition Unit. Many would seek private discussion after the classes based on the pictures he shared of his military career and recovery, and his personal testimony of the challenges and changes that came with injury. The aim of the Chaplain was to reduce the increasing trend of suicides among the wounded warrior population. This avenue of mentorship was an extension of SFC Tui's responsibility in the military to nurture, develop, protect, train, and equip soldiers with the tools necessary to succeed - and as a Special Operations Soldier who returned from Afghanistan quadriplegic, he was subject matter expert on loss, anger, frustration, depression, suicidal thoughts, self-determination, and hope.

SFC Tuimalealiifano has battled to a point where he can now do simple activites without assistance. Most importantly, he continues to pursue his recovery and continues to gain progress in his mobility, function, and bodily sensation and control. Tampa, Orlando and Atlanta are the national leaders for innovation and progressive research in the area of spinal cord injury (SCI). The treatments and therapies there are available nowhere else in America. Your organization has allowed him the opportunity to stay focused on his continued progression of recovery despite the tremendous financial demands of moving to do so.

Seven years ago we lost 50% of our income abruptly as I assumed the role of a full-time caregiver for my husband. Seven years ago my husband lost use of his body from his neck down. Seven years ago our children learned how to empty a urinal, get daddy dressed, and keep the house clutter-free so that daddy's wheelchair wouldn't get blocked or threaten to tumble him out by unbalancing from toys and shoes on the floor.

As a couple, we were woefully unprepared for the reality of mortality. It was a vague awareness that was possible but, in our minds, not likely for us. My husband is a soldier. So, too, am I. We have seen our true mettle in the fire of adversity. We continue to struggle to maintain the health and hope of our family even as we know that God is faithful and we will overcome this. There are not words adequate enough to express how grateful we are for the assistance that you have provided our family, but more importantly, thank you for establishing such an organization/program to help others like us - the military is a proud group of people and it takes a lot for any one of us to ask assistance outside of our own community. May God continue to bless you in all your endeavors.

With Deep Respect,
Shannon Tuimaleali'ifano
(formerly SSG, US Army; wife/caregiver of SFC Tuimalealiifano III, US Army (Retired))

Franz Walkup

Sgt.Franz Ulrich Walkup was born in Reutlingen, Germany on September 12, 1988. He moved to the United States in May of 2001. Sgt. Walkup graduated from Cannon County High School in 2007. He then attended Motlow Community College for one fall semester.

After his older brother 1LT Frank Bland Walkup passed away in June of 2007, his brother’s death inspired Sgt. Walkup to join the military service. He currently has 2 younger brothers serving in the army as Officers. Sgt. Walkup would go on to attend Basic Training at Fort Knox, Kentucky and Advanced Individual Training for Fire Support at Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Sgt. Walkup married his wife Shannon Dawn Walkup in June 2012.

Sgt. Walkup's first duty station was Fort Riley, Kansas with the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division. While there, he was assigned to a COLT as an RTO and Driver. He Deployed to Iraq for Operation New Dawn in 2010 with the Bravo Company 1 Battalion 7 Field Artillery Regiment, Where he performed the duties of an FO/RTO. Sgt. Walkup was assigned 3rd Platoon Destined Company, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, and 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team where he performed the duties of a Forward Observer when he was injured in combat.

On September 29th, 2012 in Wardak Province, Afghanistan, he received injuries sustained five gunshot wounds from Afghan National Army soldiers. Sgt Walkup was immediately flown to Bagram Air Field. He was then flown to Landshtul and finally on 12 October 2012, he arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. 

Sgt. Walkup's short-term goals are to be promoted to heal and be able to walk, to lead and train soldiers. For long-term goals, he would like to be able to run, continue his college education and start a family with his wife Shannon.

Sgt. Walkup retired from military service on June 1st, 2015, and has temporarily moved to Colorado with his wife as he begins an apprenticeship.

The Gary Sinise Foundation is building a SMART home for Franz and we are partnering with them and raising funds that will be used towards the Walkup Forever Home.  

Mark Zambon

A Gold-Star in lieu of Second Award Purple Heart recipient, Staff Sergeant Zambon was born in Marquette, Michigan on November 3d, 1984. He graduated from Marquette Senior High School in May of 2003 and shipped off to Marine Corps Recruit Training in San Diego the next month.

After completion of boot camp, PFC Zambon attended Marine Combat Training at the Camp Pendleton School of Infantry and then the basic supply stock school in Camp Johnson, NC. PFC Zambon received orders to 1st Combat Engineer Battalion and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II in February 2004. LCpl Zambon extended his deployment in Fallujah, Iraq to thirteen months and when he returned to the United States, sought orders to fulfill his dream and become an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician.

 

Sgt Zambon reported to Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal in Eglin AFB, FL in July 2005 and graduated the following spring with orders to 1st EOD Company at Camp Pendleton, CA. There SSgt Zambon completed deployments in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom from March-October 2007, Operation Enduring Freedom from April-October 2008, and March-May 2010. In May of 2010 while working an improvised detonator in Musa Qala, Afghanistan, a sensitive improvised explosive detonated in his left hand. The small but powerful blast dealt traumatic amputations to three distal finger joints of his non-dominant hand. SSgt Zambon made a return to full duty in a month and a half in a lightning fast recovery and jumped on the training cycle to relieve the Marines he had deployed with in earlier in the year. SSgt Zambon deployed again in October 2010, this time in direct support of I Company, 3rd Bn 5th Marines in Sangin, Afghanistan. The team he trained and led hit the ground running and executed expert EOD support for the company, safing and disposing of over fifty IED’s and numerous other support missions; saving Marines lives and limbs and allowing I Co 3/5 freedom of movement throughout their battle space. In January of 2011 while moving dismounted in response to an explosive device through a heavily IED laden urban area in Sangin, SSgt Zambon was struck with an IED with a ten pound explosive main charge.   

The blast immediately took both of his legs above the knees. Thanks to the skillful medical treatment his team and a Navy Corpsman rendered on scene, his life was saved and he was MEDEVAC’d by British helicopter for further urgent medical care. After a short stay in Bethesda, MD at the National Naval Medical Center, SSgt Zambon elected to be transferred to San Diego’s Naval Medical Center and once again conduct rehabilitation there. In June of 2011 SSgt Zambon met Tim Medvetz of The Heroes Project in LA, a non-profit that trains and takes injured service members on mountain climbs of the seven continents respective tallest mountains. SSgt Zambon set his sights on Africa’s Mt Kilimanjaro and in June of 2012, eighteen months after losing both of his legs in a bomb blast he stood on top of the 19,341’ mountain and there, in remembrance, buried the dog tags of two close friends that gave their lives in the defense of our great nation. 

Upon his return from Africa, SSgt Zambon and another injured US Marine joined with the Race2Recovery team, founded by wounded British soldiers and Marines set on racing the 2013 Dakar Rally Raid in South America. As a team, months of navigational and mechanical training were conducted with their Bowler Wildcat Race Cars in England, Morocco and here at home in San Diego. On December 31st 2012 the team left for South America and amidst the cheers of the fans of Lima, Peru subsequently began the grueling 9,000km 15 day off-road race throughout South America. After many mechanical difficulties and crashes, on January 20th  the team’s race car “Joy” crossed the finish line in Santiago, Chile and became the first amputee team to successfully race the challenging Dakar Rally Raid.

After the recovery was completed SSgt Zambon reported for duty as an instructor at the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal in Eglin AFB, FL. SSgt Zambon taught EOD students the craft of the core skills necessary to stay safe in such a dangerous occupation. All the while in Florida, SSgt Zambon was training as a swimmer for several distance swimming events. After competing in several events in the fall of 2013 and excelling at them he was accepted by the Wavehouse Swim Team in Mission Beach, San Diego to train to compete in the 2016 Paralympics. In March 2014, SSgt Zambon wrapped up his tour in Florida, and moved back with his family to San Diego to pursue athletic training full time to again represent this great nation; this time on the Paralympic stage.

During the mid-summer of 2014 SSgt Zambon suffered a tendon injury in his left shoulder and is back on the familiar beaten path of rehabilitation. SSgt Zambon has further committed to racing the 2016 Dakar Rally Raid with the British Race2Recovery team.

Carlos Garcia

I grew up in Pasadena, CA and lived there until my family and I moved to Duarte, CA when I was 12 years old. I went to middle school and high school in Duarte and started hanging out with the wrong crowd. About a year after graduating high school I finally realized that I could do more with my life, but needed a push in the right direction. That is when I decided to join the Marine Corps and I left for Boot Camp on August 24, 2009. I chose to become a Combat Engineer, because I loved the fact that I would be dealing with explosives. On November 20, 2010 I was injured during my first deployment in Sangin, Afghanistan by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Both of my legs were amputated at the knee, my left femur was broken, and I suffered a minor Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Since my injury I have hand cycled 6 marathons, have gone alligator and boar hunting in Florida, monoskied in Colorado, gone fishing in Alaska, competed at the 2012 Warrior Games for wheelchair basketball and wheelchair racing, my wheelchair basketball team and I won the 2013 and 2014 Western Conference Championship, and I have completed a 5K Rugged Maniac race. I was Medically Retired from the Marine Corps on September 29, 2013. I am in my third semester of college and my goal is to become an Ultrasound Technician. I am married, my wife Jacki and I were wed on August 20, 2010. I have a 2 year old daughter named Isabel and we are having a little boy who is due November 29th of this year.

Corporal Carlos Garcia – USMC

Brad Fite

Brad Fite, former Corporal in the USMC, wrote his personal story about surviving polytrauma injuries from an IED explosion during combat operations, in Marjeh, Afghanistan. His book is named 'Life after Death' it is raw account of his first few years post-injury, his battle with visible and invisible wounds of war, suicide, depression, PTSD, addiction, and, to simply put it, the ugly truth of surviving war. It's not all sad though, he speaks of, “my triumphs, my passions, my hope, and the new found purpose which I discovered in the midst of the fire.” Brad resides in Oceanside with his wife and son. He is partnered in a musical group called The Makers, their first album 'The Passenger' is due to arrive soon for sale featuring 'Dead Man', with fellow artist Shane Gray. Brad has a foundation called Warrior Song and is a participant in the Phoenix Patriot Foundation Music Program. He is a 2014 Never Quit Challenge participant in our Jet Ski Program.


https://youtu.be/M8atkq9z_Hk - Never Quit News interview

Bo Reichenbach

24-year-old Bo Reichenbach, a Navy SEAL, was critically injured by an improvised explosive device on July 17, 2012 while serving our country in Afghanistan. Bo was awarded the Purple Heart just two days after arriving back to the United States.

He has undergone over 20 medical procedures since then, and continues to conquer his path of recover each and every day. Bo hails from Billings, Montana where he grew up as an avid ice hockey player. When he was 15 years old he left home to pursue his dream of being an NHL goaltender, and went to play Junior Hockey in Canada for the Thunder Bay Wolverines. Four years later, in March of 2008, he decided to serve our country and enlisted in the Navy. That same year be became the father of a baby boy, Landon.

In May of 2010 he earned the right to be a Navy SEAL, entrusted with some of the most dangerous missions in the military. Bo’s unit was deployed to Afghanistan on January 3, 2012. When Bo returned to U.S. soil after his injury in July, his parents Don and Crystal and his younger brother.

Jackson Gudel

Jackson Gudel is a US Army Ranger with an honorable military career that included three deployments to Iraq and three deployments to Afghanistan. In 2008, just a few months after graduating from the Army Ranger School, he received a Purple Heart from combat in Mosul, Iraq. Jackson was shot multiple times and also sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) from a suicide vest explosion. These severe injuries forced Jackson out of his active duty combat role in the military.

In between combat deployments and during recovery from an initial combat injury; Jackson met his wife, Sierra. They were married in 2010 and currently live in Elk Grove, California with their three young children, Rhylee, Luke and Cody.

Phoenix Patriot Foundation’s short term goals are to support Jackson’s mental and physical health recovery and to help him begin his transition from Active Duty to civilian life.  Jackson’s long term goal is to be an advocate for veterans and their families. Sierra would like to go to school to become a registered nurse. PPF is proud to be working with Jackson Gudel and his family, and aid him in his desire to find employment helping other disabled vets.

Jeff Grosky

Lance Corporal Jeff Grosky of Canton, South Dakota, enlisted in the Marine Corps in April of 2009. After completing infantry training, he was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. During his first deployment he was wounded by an IED while on foot patrol in Sangin, Afghanistan, on October 31, 2010. He sustained injuries that resulted in the amputation of his right leg below the knee.

During his rehabilitation and follow-on medical treatment at Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego, he first met the team from PPF. His first interaction with PPF was when he went to a NASCAR race with them in November, 2011.  Since then, he has attended several PPF events and has been honorably discharged from the Marine Corps.

Having relocated to his home town in South Dakota, Jeff is pursuing his passion of automotive mechanics. PPF is helping Jeff bridge financial gaps with his vocational training, as well as providing automotive tools and equipment that he will need to begin this next chapter in his life.  Because of PPF, Jeff has expanded his professional network through the contacts he now has with NASCAR and also with the Baja 500. PPF is currently facilitating his obtaining a Commercial Truck Driver’s License.

Jeff now is set to begin his next chapter at JFI, Inc., a local heavy automotive shop in Canton, South Dakota.  He continues to be an example of honorable service to community and country.

Dan Cnossen

For a listing of Dan's 2015 Paralympic statistics with TEAM USA click HERE

Dan Cnossen graduated from the Naval Academy in 2002 and is a Navy SEAL. During his third deployment, he sustained near life-ending injuries in Afghanistan in September, 2009. 

Since his injury, Dan has achieved many remarkable accomplishments, most notably as a member of the U.S. Paralympic Biathlon Team. He represented the USA in Sochi, Russia, in the 2014 Winter Games and led the U.S. team both on and off the snow.

Dan consistently places in the top 10 in international events, and competed in the So Chi Paralympics. In support of Dan’s calling to continue to serve our nation, PPF with the support of the Boot Campaign, procured a custom built, state-of-the-art hand cycle, enabling him to maintain excellent cardiovascular conditioning leading up to the Olympics.

Additionally,  PPF helped to facilitate a training event at which Dan and several of his teammates from SEAL Team ONE converged in Colorado for what was an incredible test of resolve and teamwork in preparation for his Olympic quest. 

Dan continues to serve Team USA. For an update on Dan's activities click HERE

Tom Block

Tom Block is a US Army Ranger with an honorable military career that included four deployments to Afghanistan, the latest as a Rifle Team Leader. On October 6, 2013, Tom was part of an assault force sent to capture several High Value Targets in Kandahar, Afghanistan. While conducting clearance of the targeted compound a suicide bomber detonated himself as he approached Tom’s position. The resulting blast knocked Tom 30 feet through the air. Tom lost his eye due to this blast, and has multiple surgeries to repair his remaining eye. He is legally blind. In addition his nose had to be rebuilt, he had a broken foot, collapsed lung, and still has shrapnel lodged throughout his body.

Tom is engaged to be married to his fiancée, Janine in September of 2015. They live in Fort Mitchell, AL. Tom is a lifelong avid hunter and sportsman, and Phoenix Patriot Foundation’s short term goals are to help Tom regain this ability to enjoy these activities as he recovers, and help him begin his transition from Active Duty to civilian life. Tom’s short term goals are to stay physically and mentally fit so he can continue to inspire those around him with his positive attitude despite his injuries. Tom’s long term goals include public speaking, and assisting wounded combat veterans.