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Linda’s vision and passion for ONF comes not only from her military family background but also from her love for wilderness, photography and graphic arts. After having a lifetime career as an award winning creative/art director, in June of 2005, she visualized a way to help keep the memories alive for a Gold Star mom whose son was one of 13 fallen from Linda’s Marine son’s unit. And so, the first ONF awareness campaigns began. By 2010, Linda wanted to share her passion for wild Montana places with injured veterans. The first S.A.S. therapeutic outdoor retreat began.
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Linda's Marine son completed two Iraq combat tours in 2004-05 and 2007-08, and is now raising a family. Her husband, Ed Zurey, is a retired US Navy Captain. He also served in Iraqi Freedom as well as other conflicts.
Since 1997, Linda has been an avid horsewoman most of her life and has spent many years riding and packing into remote mountain wilderness destinations. She is a professional wildlife photographer and her images have been published in several magazines, calendars and postcards. She works with at-risk kids for Youth Dynamics as a mentor. In the 1980s, she ran a marketing and advertising agency in Madison, Wisconsin while volunteering as a registered emergency medical technician. In the 1970s, Linda toured the racquetball circuit as a professional nationally ranked player.
Today, Linda is still exploring wilderness places in Montana along with her three labs and husband or spending time with the rest of her family in Chicago and Madison, Wisconsin as she continues her full time volunteer commitment to ONF.
John served in the United States Navy from 1965 – 1969. His responsibilities included serving aboard U.S. Navy tankers (Oilers), participating in Underway Replenishment operations for the Fleet, and Interior Communications duties. He has been a member of the VFW and the Navy League. John’s reason for contributing his time and talents is because he witnessed the treatment of our Vietnam Vets upon their return. He lost 2 friends to PTS, and a friend who was killed in action in Vietnam.
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John’s career started in New York City. He then accepted a position as an advertising designer for the Tampa Tribune in Florida. He then entered the trade show industry as the Design Director for the U.S. headquarters of ExpoSystems based in London, England. Later, as a Creative Director in the screen print industry, John was in charge of the illustration department that conceptualized and created graphic designs for NASA, Universal Studios, Sea World, Anheuser-Busch, and internationally for Hard Rock Café, among others. Upon relocating to Atlanta, GA he created and developed trade show exhibit design, graphic design, illustration and marketing programs for national accounts such as Triumph Motorcycles and Bank of America. In order to make use of his diverse talents John founded Fronza Design, LLC in 2001, with its main focus being on DeNovo bank branding and marketing as well as offering creative services to a variety of other industries. He currently provides Art Direction for a major corporation based in Atlanta, GA.
John has been the recipient of numerous awards including a National ADDY award for design.
John’s Uncle Frank served as a Tank Commander in World War 2 in the Pacific, and received the Purple Heart, and the Bronze Star. John’s brother also served in the United States Air Force.
John considers his degree of success in life to be directly related to his service in the United States Navy and the training he received. John wants to return the favor by volunteering with ONF.
Nancy lives in St. Clair Shores, MI where she and her husband raised 2 children, Jessica and John, and where she continues to work full time as a Paraprofessional with students with Autism. She is the daughter, sister and mother of a veteran. In June of 2005 her role a caregiver expanded from family and students to her son John who suffered 3rd and 4th degree burns covering 80% of his body in OIF.
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She and her husband stayed with him in BAMC for 9 months while he recovered. It was while at BAMC that she met the Mills who run ONF workshops. They formed a strong and special bond during those difficult times. Relying on each other for support and inspiration.
It was in November of 2015, 10 years later, that Nancy was asked to speak at an A-Head of Healing Workshop in Ann Arbor, Michigan on the role of being a Mother/caregiver/advocate/cheerleader of an injured soldier. Knowing first-hand the importance of the role of family, community and special organizations like ONF, Nancy shares her experiences and offers support, advice, and humor to others who face the challenges of caring for their veteran.
When Nancy has spare time she loves to spend it outdoors by the lake, quilting and enjoying her grandchildren.
CAPT Edward. C. Zurey, Jr. USN (Ret.) is a 31-year veteran having served for most of his career on destroyers as a Surface Warfare Officer. During his Navy experience he served as ship’s company on five ships and was honored to have commanded USS Peterson (DD-969), two afloat squadrons, and the Navy ROTC Unit at the University of Michigan. He participated in Operations: Desert Storm while off of Syria, Southern Watch from the North Arabian Gulf, Enduring Freedom in the Indian Ocean, and Iraqi Freedom. He was also assigned to the Multi-National Forces-Iraq headquarters in Baghdad.
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Ed is currently a full time federal employee with duties as the Human Resources Director for Chicago's Jesse Brown VA Medical Center.
A life-long proponent of continuing education, Ed is the recipient of a Master of Science degree in Physics from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California; a Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, D.C.; a Master in Business Administration concentrating in Maritime Economics and Ports Management from Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia, and a Master of Education degree in education technology from Montana State University – Billings. He is currently a Doctoral candidate in Education, Adult and Higher Education Administration, at Montana State University, Bozeman, Montana.
General William Henderson is the retired Commander of the Michigan Air National Guard Headquarters. He began his military career in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served for 10 years as a fighter pilot flying the F-4 Phantom. He served with the 1st Marine Air Wing in Viet Nam flying 125 combat missions, and with the 1st Marine Division as a Forward Air Controller. Upon his return to the U.S. he became an F-4 Check Pilot, Instructor Pilot and Amphibious Warfare School graduate.
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General Henderson left the Marine Corps and joined the General Motors Corporation as a corporate pilot eventually becoming Chief Pilot and Director of Flight Operations. While employed at General Motors, he joined the Marine Corps Reserves at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mt. Clemons, Michigan.
When the unit moved their aviation assets out of state, he joined the Michigan Air National Guard, where he flew the F-100 Saber and the A-7 Corsair for 13 years. He eventually moved to the state headquarters and was promoted to Major General, retiring in 1997 with 34 years of combined active duty and reserve military service.
General Henderson retired from General Motors in 2003 after 28 years of service and resides in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Currently, he serves as Board Member and Adviser for ONF.
SFC Mike Mills (Ret.) is a daily survivor; a burn survivor, Iraq war survivor, PTS and TBI survivor. He’s a survivor of everything that came that day, June 14, 2005, when he was severely injured by a chain of 3 IEDs while in a HETT, on a convoy in Iraq. Mike was severely burned over 31% of his body. He also had several broken bones some of which never healed correctly because his burn treatment needed first priority. Mike is missing parts of his hands and has limited use of his left arm. Through all the pain and suffering Mike chose to be a survivor. See Mike’s story, “A New Beginning.”
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Every night when he goes to bed he takes in a moment of peace knowing that he made it one more day.
For the last 6 years, Mike has been involved with a variety of retreats and organizations. He has made himself available for public speaking and creating his own organization, 'FOR THE VETERAN... BY A VETERAN. Mike’s goal is to educate the civilian population about what a Veteran wants, needs and what many of them feel. Mike’s mission is to reach out to fellow Veterans, let them know that they are not forgotten and that they really do matter. Mike came on board with Operation Never Forgotten to help mentor, advise and direct Veteran programs.
Katie got involved with ONF when her late fiancé invited her to an outdoor S.A.S. retreat in Montana, the summer of 2012. She was so inspired by the bonding and camaraderie that she witnessed there that she has been actively volunteering with ONF ever since.
Katie grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where she obtained her degree in Criminal Justice as well as a license to practice cosmetology. She is a former Police Officer, Wildlands Fire Fighter and Medical First Responder.
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While Katie worked on a film set as a makeup artist, she met 1st Lieutenant Matthew Szymanski (US Army, Retired), a Veteran turned actor. They became engaged and moved to Montana. Katie became a surviving family member to veteran suicide after Matthew took his own life.
Katie called ONF to dedicate herself to help families and friends deal with their loss and to help fight the high statistic of veteran suicide. This was the motivation behind ONF’s new focus on Suicide Prevention Awareness.
Shortly after Katie lost her fiancé, she lost her close sister to a traffic tragedy. Katie’s giving heart and positive outlook on life sets an example of resiliency for all surviving families and friends.
In the fall of 2014, Katie met John, a Purple Heart Recipient, amputee and burn survivor, while volunteering at an ONF A-head of healing workshop. The two of them found love in the most unexpected place and were married that following winter.
Today, Katie lives in Austin, Texas with her husband John, three amazing stepchildren and two German Shepherds. She is a caregiver to her husband and a full time volunteer for ONF. Together, Katie and John work with ONF awareness campaigns, PTS workshops, family survivor retreats and fundraisers. They are both excited to help give back!
Peg is retired from the State of Wisconsin after 38+ years of service. Her job of administering the statewide certification program of water and wastewater operators required many skills, people skills, administrative skills, speaking skills and most importantly listening skills. It was the perfect preparation for what she likes doing best these days – helping veterans.
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After Peg's son Shane was killed, Linda Kelly started ONF and Peg has been actively involved since it's inception. Peg has made many veteran friends through ONF and stays in contact with many on a regular basis. Veterans are a treasure to Peg and help her move forward in her life’s journey instead of focusing on her loss.
Peg is a very active volunteer with many organizations and causes, especially the veterans groups which are the most important to her. She became close friends with many Marines after Shane’s death and that opened her eyes and heart to helping Veterans from all services. It’s a bond stronger than blood and she had never experienced such a bond until she started working with Veterans. Peg is proud to be a part of the Veterans community and knows that her son, Shane, would be proud of the work she does with Veterans, too.
Suki is the proud mother of two and wife/caregiver of SFC Mike Mills (Ret.). Her entire family has experienced all aspects of her husband’s life threatening and disfiguring injuries from June 14, 2005, in Iraq. Just prior to her husband Mike’s injury, Suki was diagnosed with her own health issues that left her homebound. A caregiver that needed a caregiver too, set the Mills family up for the greatest of
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challenges. Suki has been instrumental in her entire family’s persevering efforts and bravery to heal physically, emotionally and mentally. Since these painstaking experiences, Suki joined her husband in supporting injured veterans and their families.
Today, Suki helps educate caregivers about secondary PTS and continues to help hold her family together while supporting her husband’s continued physical healing process with ongoing surgeries. The Mills continue to mentor and set positive examples of hope for other families going through recovery.
John is from St. Clair Shores, MI. He joined the U.S. Army in 2004 as an 11B Infantryman. John served with the 2/69 Armored Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division at Ft. Benning in GA. His unit deployed to Iraq in 2005, and was injured in combat in June of that year. See John’s story on YouTube.
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After John's discharge, he obtained his bachelors degree in social work from Texas A&M Commerce. John currently lives in Austin, Texas with his new lovely wife Katie, and has 3 wonderful children.
John is motivated to work with ONF to help our Nation's Veterans in anyway he can.
Jesse Sellars served two 12-month tours in Operation Iraqi Freedom, during which time he is credited for leading the capture/destruction of over 430 Al’Qaeda linked terrorists. The members of the unit he commanded received 97 individual awards for heroism, valor and gallantry on the battlefield, two of which were awarded to Jesse.
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Following his tours in Iraq, Jesse was diagnosed with severe PTS, a disorder he suffered from for over five years impacting every aspect of his life. Upon hitting a low point, Jesse successfully received treatment allowing a recovery from the disorder that has afforded him a full and rewarding social, professional, and family life.
He currently is the COO of Technical Management Services, training & consulting company, and serves as a keynote speaker around the country speaking to Veterans and advocating Veteran’s rights for those who suffer from combat-related stress disorders.
Jesse’s success on and off the battlefield has been highlighted on 60 Minutes, The Discovery Channel, PBS, The History Channel, FOX News, CNN, CBS, The Military Channel, and multiple nationally printed sources to include The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Time Magazine. Jesse has also been publicly recognized by both President Clinton and President Bush for his accomplishments and contributions to his nation and his home state of Arkansas.
Major Richard Briggs USAF (Ret.) is the founder and executive director for Camp Liberty in Michigan, a nature environment conducive to the therapeutic experience. Camp Liberty provides programs designed to aid in the PTS and TBI rehabilitation and reintegration of U.S. Military Service Members, Veterans, their families.
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Major Briggs was the Manager of the Veterans Program for the Brain Injury Association of Michigan (BIAMI). Major Briggs was responsible for managing the program’s primary goals of raising traumatic brain injury (TBI) awareness among Veterans and their families and facilitating a working relationship with the Veterans Administration and the Michigan Department of Military Affairs.
Prior to working with BIAMI, Major Briggs was introduced to the world of brain injury advocacy through his role as Promotions Director for Operation Helmet, a non-profit organization whose goal was to raise funds for Ballistic Liner Upgrade Kits for combatant’s helmets. Early on in the War on Terror, these kits helped reduce the impact of explosive shock-waves on the brain.
Major Briggs, who earned his Bachelor of the Arts from Michigan State University and Master of the Arts from Central Michigan University, enlisted in the United States Air Force in 1972 during the Vietnam War. He garnered his commission as Second Lieutenant in 1980 and held positions as a Strategic Air Command “Combat Aircrew” member, an Instructor Navigator, Wing Navigation Officer, Operations Officer, Flight Commander, Chief of Current Operations, and Bomb Group Executive Officer. He retired from the Air Force in 1994 after serving in Operation Desert Shield.
Advocacy for veterans continues to be a passion for Major Briggs, as he also serves as Chair for the State of Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources Disability Accessibility Council, and Board Member for Honor for All and the Mi Vet Task Force faith based program. He is also an advisor to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs VISN 11 Traumatic Brain Injury Council, and Operation Never Forgotten. Major Briggs also serves as Co-Chairman of the Communications sub-committee for the Traumatic Brain Injury – Resource Optimization Center Advisory Group for JBS International of Bethesda, Maryland.
On April 28, 2011, David was serving as a Department of Defense contractor with Lockheed-Martin when he was it by an enemy rocket in Afghanistan. His other team members were killed. David lost both his legs and had other injuries. After a long rehabilitation in Germany, Tampa General and Walter Reed Medical Center, David now continues to move forward in his life testing out the most advanced bionic motor driven feet in the world! They include 5 computers, GPS, bluetooth,
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lithium ion batteries and terrain sensors.
Not long after he began using his two prosthetic legs he challenged himself by attending the July 2012 Operation Never Forgotten event at Big Sky Montana. The events he challenged himself to do at Big Sky helped him better understand and improve his capabilities.
After being married for 33 years, David recently lost his wife to cancer. They had three sons, a true military family. All three of their sons are ex-Army Iraq and Afghanistan combat Veterans. David's hobbies include traveling, Formula 1 and Indy Car racing, music, acting, boxing, movies and public speaking.
John got involved with Operation Never Forgotten in its beginning in 2007. He saw the great potential of ONF messages for our troops and their families. He has been extremely active in local Veterans volunteer work for over 25 years. His focus the past 11 years has been Post-9/11 Iraq and Afghanistan War troopers and Veterans.
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Raised in Belleville, Michigan, he was drafted and proudly served as a battalion radio operator with the Army’s 2/7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division from 1966-67.
John married Jane in 1984 and they had a son in 1988. He received a B.S. and M.S. from Eastern Michigan University while he worked full time at Ford Motor Company.He retired in 1997 as an engineering supervisor.This allowed him to stay home to help raise their son and begin more extensive Veteran volunteer work.
He served as Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 310 President for 4 years. Then he served as Commander of the Ann Arbor VFW Post 423 for 5 years. For over 15 years he has coordinated a large group of Veterans who perform around 140 military funerals each year.
With the support of his wife and friends, his many awards and recognitions include; 2003 Michigan “Veteran of the Year”, 2007 VVA National “Member of the Year”, 2009 Ann Arbor “Citizen of the Year” and 2012 VA National "Male Volunteer of the Year.”