Local heroes prepare to step into community

Sandhills Community College (SCC) partnered with The Honor Foundation to offer transitioning classes for military members entering civilian life and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 24. The Honor Foundation (THF) is a career transition program for U.S. Special Operations Forces.

U.S. Army Col. Mark Ray was one minute and 28 seconds into his speech when he paused with emotion while speaking about military dependents and community. He thanked community partners, his team and Sandhills Community College.

Ray is the Director of Human Performance and Wellness at the U.S. Special Operations Command and works with Col. Joseph Degliuomini. They bring programs to U.S. Special Operations soldiers, the top 1% of the military.

Degliuomini has served his country 26 years and will be among the first to enter The Honor Foundation’s transitioning classes at the college beginning Aug. 30.

“My hope is to take a purpose-driven approach to life and apply it to a post-Army career,” Degliuomini said.

Local heroes prepare to step into the community

Col. Joseph Degliuomini attends the ribbon-cutting August 24 at SCC for The Honor Foundation.

The classes are three months long, and one advantage of the classes is it allows soldiers to look at the environment they may choose to work in and determine if they have matching work ethics.

Chris Copper is a U.S. Army Master Sergeant with Human Performance and Wellness. He plans to transition out within two years and has begun the process. His goal is getting soldiers to transition out in as good physical condition as they were prior to being soldiers.

Local heroes prepare to step into community SCC

U.S. Army Master Sergeant Chris Copper attends the ribbon-cutting August 24 at SCC for The Honor Foundation.

“When we are wearing body armor and doing realistic combat training with heavy weapons and explosives, it has an impact on the body,” Copper said. “I’m no expert, but as I slow down I feel areas that have check-lights on.”

These men have deployed overseas to serve and protect while leaving their families in the U.S., and now they are planning on ways to serve and protect when they leave the military.

Copper is planning on going into law enforcement.

“The Lord gives you strengths and attributes. I had a calling to serve,” Copper said.

Sandhills Community College’s President John Dempsey said he was thrilled to have them on campus.

Dempsey said it was a triple treat — to see the veterans and college work together, to have the Veterans’ Center named after Luke Ryan who was killed en route to U.S. Navy Seal training, and because when Dempsey was in Vietnam in 1969 in navigation and made mistakes, the U.S. Navy Seals saved them by digging their boat out of a narrow, muddy river — several times.

“These guys are mission-driven, and we want them to transition well, but we don’t want them to lose being mission-driven,” Dempsey said.

Local heroes prepare to step into community 3

The Honor Foundation CEO Matt Stevens presents SCC President John R. Dempsey with an honorary U.S. Navy Seal paddle August 24, 2021 at the college campus.

The Honor Foundation partners with the Navy SEAL Foundation to provide career transitioning classes. It provides tailored executive education, one-on-one coaching, and access to a nationwide professional network. The Honor Foundation’s CEO is Matt Stevens, a former 26-year U.S. Navy Seal.

Stevens said The Honor Foundation has several locations, from San Diego to Virginia, to Camp Lejune and Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and virtual. The program instills service to others with honor for life, so their next mission is clear and continues to benefit the world.

The Honor Foundation opened its fifth campus at Fort Bragg and partnered with the Wounded Warrior Project. The Fort Bragg campus will operate out of SCC and at The Brief Lab on North Poplar Street in Southern Pines.

Pamela Gregg-Devose is the Program Coordinator at the Fort Bragg campus and serves in communications. She emails acceptance letters, handles computer setups, logistics, presents their pre-work and photo releases, and answers questions. She said there are not many complaints now that they have The Honor Foundation to assist from beginning to end.

“My husband was in the military twenty-nine, point seventy-five years. He says give me my point seventy-five. It takes a while to transition out,” Gregg-Devose said.

Carol Sharpe is the alumni manager with Wounded Warrior Project in Fayetteville.

“We partner with community and government programs. We see a lot of retirees and some active duty. Get a lot of foot traffic in Fayetteville office,” Sharpe said. “Using the tools we provide, we have seen families barely scraping by go to doing well and giving back to the community.”

The Director of People for The Honor Foundation at the Fort Bragg campus is Lindsey Schiro She said the largest transition hurdle was not being prepared enough to adapt to civilian communities. Her job is to approach businesses and help with resumes.

Natalie Hawkins is with Partners in Progress in Moore County. It is an economic agency working to support local businesses by connecting them with qualified employees. Hawkins also assists transitioning military members working toward entrepreneurship.

For more information on The Honor Foundation, please call 910-319-4060 ext. 721 or email [email protected].

Feature Photo: Carol Sharpe, Pamela Gregg-Devose, Southern Pines Mayor Carol Haney, Phil Gant, Matt Stevens, Lindsey Schiro, President John Dempsey and Col. Mark Ray join August 24, 2021 for Sandhills Community College ribbon-cutting ceremony.

~Article, photos and videos by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].

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