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MEET FRIDAY'S FREEDOM FIRST SPEAKERS

Marty is currently the editor-in-chief of Task & Purpose. Prior to his current role, he went on assignment to cover the Standing Rock oil pipeline protest, embedded with U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan and reported on the ground in Ukraine during the Russian invasion.

Marty's stories have been published in a variety of publications, both digital and print — with a focus on narrative long form — along with breaking news that has been picked up by Business Insider, Army Times, Defense One, Washington Times, Washington Post, and Stars & Stripes.

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STEVEN NISBET

Steven Nisbet is the President and Co-founder of Shields & Stripes.

Steven Nisbet is a veteran entrepreneur. He served nearly 16 years and medically retired in June 2021 from the U.S. Air Force as a Special Warfare Pararescueman. 

Steven always had a drive and passion to help others, which made his decision to become a pararescueman an easy one. Steven served in ten combat deployments in various operating areas including Afghanistan, Africa, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Over this period, Steven lost over 15 teammates to combat or combat-related circumstances and has himself experienced mental health injuries due to sustained combat operations.

Steven’s passion to help others is just as strong today as when he began his service. His personal experiences with PTSD and other trauma-related symptoms have made him acutely aware of those groups that are in need of the very treatment he received.

Steven identified a lack of mental and physical health support within the law enforcement and first responder communities, thus creating Shields & Stripes.

Jenna Carlton (The Millennial Veteran) is a Navy veteran who served as an Aerographer’s Mate from 2013-2017. After getting out she went to school and did an internship at The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs hoping to make an impact on the veteran community. She soon found out that policy may not be the best route in her efforts of helping other veterans.

 

Soon after she started a Facebook support group, “The Millennial Veterans” with two of her friends in 2020 to reach out to younger veterans in the hopes of creating a community. Their goal is to get younger veterans involved and aware of their resources. Jenna published The Veteran Workbook, a journal-style book, that puts the pen in the hand of the veteran to reflect on service, recreate structure, plan for the future, and re-discover their new identity without the military.

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Ali Craig

And the moderator of our Freedom First Panel,  Ali Craig, is the  Executive Director of Victor + Valor®, a 501C3 nonprofit serving the U.S. Military and their families living the American entrepreneurial dream by offering community, consulting, training, and branding/marketing services free of charge.

 

A powerhouse in brand development, dedicated to aiding military families in creating profitable ventures, with 20+ years of experience, she champions personal growth alongside business success. Renowned for her bold approach and real-world strategies, Ali transforms complex concepts into actionable ideas. As a 3x best-selling author, she customizes her message for diverse audiences, delivering impactful experiences.

 

Through Victor + Valor®, Ali empowers entrepreneurs to thrive personally, professionally, and financially, leaving an indelible mark on the military community and beyond.

MEET SATURDAY'S MAIN STAGE SPEAKERS

 

Alexandra's journey runs parallel to Alex's, driven by her own experiences and a shared passion for fostering human connection and empowerment which led her to create, The CoVive, a community driven initiative dedicated to building community and empowering others on their journey.

 

Their collective efforts serve as beacons of hope, illuminating the path towards a more compassionate and supportive community. By sharing their stories and championing destigmatization, Alex and Alexandra inspire others to embrace their journeys with courage and resilience, knowing that they are never alone.

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L. Todd Kelly

With a protector’s heart, Todd Kelly mesmerizes audiences big and small around the world. Bold, unapologetic, and a true fighter - Kelly knows what it takes to succeed personally and professionally. Being a sought-after trial lawyer and media commentator - Kelly knows how to grab the hearts and minds of any audience. 

Paired with his raw honesty, Kelly’s frankness about his “failures” allows his C-Suite and professional audiences to know that failures happen, but quitting is not an option. Coupled with his life and professional lessons, Kelly quickly becomes a repeat presenter for corporate organizations and associations year after year. 

LTC Luis J. Vega is a Juana Díaz, Puerto Rico native and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mathematics from Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico. A prior service noncommissioned officer, Luis began his commissioned career in 1999 as an Armor Officer in the U.S. Army National Guard assigned to the 92nd Separate Infantry Brigade, Salinas, Puerto Rico. His assignments include Scout Platoon Leader and Executive Officer, E Troop, 192nd Cavalry Regiment; Team Leader, 432nd Infantry Battalion, Task Force Guardian Mariner in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from February to July 2003; and Battalion S-4, 1st Battalion, 65th Infantry Regiment.

 

Luis transferred to the U.S. Army Reserve in July 2005 and was further assigned to the 393rd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. He initially commanded the 492nd Petroleum Supply Company and subsequently deployed as Battalion Adjutant in

support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from March 2006 to March 2007.

 

Upon his return from deployment, Luis served as an Observer/Controller Trainer with the 2nd Battalion, 348th

Regiment, Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. A few months later, he was called upon to serve at the Pentagon as Legislative Liaison Officer for the Chief Army Reserve’s Employer Partnership Initiative from March to May of 2009.

 

Luis branch transferred to Civil Affairs in June 2009 and deployed to Iraq in command of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 354th Civil Affairs Brigade where he also served in- country as the United States Forces Iraq, J-9 (Forward) Executive Officer from December 2009

to August 2010. Upon his return from deployment, Luis continued to serve as a Civil Affairs Officer under the United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne). 

His assignments include Public Administration Officer, 354th Civil Affairs Brigade; Plans Officer, 451st Civil Affairs Battalion; Commander, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 492nd Civil Affairs Battalion; and Chief of Operations, 425th Civil Affairs Battalion.

In September 2016, Luis was reassigned to the U.S. Army Human Resources Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky where he served as the Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Branch Manager from September 2016 to April 2018 and as the Deputy Division Chief, U.S. Army Reserve Officer Division from May 2017 to Jul 2018. 

 

He was reassigned to the 1st Mission Support Command, Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico where he served as the Command Inspector General from August 2019 to June 2021 and later attended Senior Service College from July 2021 to June 2022. He currently serves as the G-33, United States Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command (Airborne), Fort Liberty, North Carolina.

 

Luis holds a Juris Doctor Degree from Pontifical Catholic University School of Law, a Master of Science in Inter-American Defense and Security, and a certificate in Mediation from the Justice

Center of Atlanta. He is a graduate of the Armor Captains Career Course, the Command and General Staff Officers Course, the Inter-American Defense College, the Stability, Security &

Development in Complex Operations Course, the Reserve Component National Security Course, the Defense Strategy Course, the Joint Combined Warfare School, and was most recently awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal.

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SGT Brandon Jacoby

Enlisting in the guard in 2012,Sgt Brandon Jacoby began his military career as a 91B mechanic. For eight years, he served as a military technician before transitioning to Active Guard Reserve (AGR) duty. Jacoby's dedication and skills have been showcased in various missions, including vital state-side operations in Pennsylvania during periods of unrest and the security efforts in Washington, D.C. during the last presidential inauguration.

He is honored to be selected as the Master of Ceremonies for Operation Honor, a role that allows him to represent the dedication, service, and sacrifice of his fellow soldiers. Beyond his military endeavors, he enjoys a fulfilling family life. Jacoby has been married to his wife for ten years, and together they raise their spirited four-year-old son, Dominic, along with their three incredible children, Makayla, Arianna, and Alexander.

Having been a recruiter for over a year, Jacoby finds profound fulfillment in guiding others towards a path of service. His upbringing instilled in him the values of integrity, commitment, and leadership, qualities he strives to embody every day as a soldier and mentor. He eagerly anticipates the challenges and triumphs that the future holds.

Speaker Sponsors

Operation Honor: Rural Salute™ wouldn't be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. These local and national businesses have a heart for rural veterans, their families, and communities, and are dedicated to bringing this event to you. We're honored to work with companies that share our values, and together we're committed to making a positive impact in the lives of those we serve.

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