Col. Nathan Thomas Jr. is a retired veteran who served more than 39 years in the Army and Air Force, but for this Alabama native, currently living in Melbourne, Florida, supporting his community has been a natural extension of his life’s work. As a teenager, Nathan marched alongside civil rights heroes in Birmingham and Selma, Alabama, and was beaten along with hundreds of other marchers in the horrific 1965 “Bloody Sunday” police attack in Selma. Nathan is inspired every day by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s idea of “The Beloved Community,” and has touched the lives of many in need through his contributions and service.
For military veterans who have proudly served, there can be physical and emotional injuries that make it difficult to transition back to civilian life – some estimates say as many as 20 percent of returning vets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Barbara Blair has touched the lives of many struggling vets in need of companionship through her efforts as the Georgia chapter director of Pets for Vets, where she leads state-wide programs for the national organization dedicated to veterans and rescued shelter pets.
After spending a chaotic day on a boat rescuing people from Hurricane Harvey floodwaters, Matthew Marchetti set out to see if he could put his data engineering skills to work to find a more organized way to save those affected by the storm damage. He created a platform called CrowdSource Rescue to connect victims with volunteers while local officials and the U.S. Coast Guard were inundated with calls. Within hours of setting up the platform, Matthew received thousands of requests for rescue.
Lisa Colella is dedicated to connecting caregivers of U.S. veterans with essential support as families face transitioning from active duty to the civilian world. When Lisa’s husband was forced into a medical retirement after he suffered a brain injury during deployment, the mother of two was forced to confront some issues that threatened to break up her family. Realizing there were others like her in the veteran community who needed critical resources, Lisa started a Facebook group for families of veterans in an effort to strengthen the family foundation through support – a network that bloomed into Healing Household 6.