When WWII veterans served, they made up 11% of the US population… today, in the midst of our longest running conflicts, it’s less than 1%. What burden has that placed on our vets, especially when many are not truly heard about what they’ve seen and experienced? With an average 22 veterans lost by suicide per day, there is clearly work to do, and today’s tech and services may not be cutting it. Hear from writer, veteran, advocate, designer, and general truth speaker Ben Sledge about his story and the conversations we need to have. Featuring a TED-style talk by Ben and a fireside chat between 3 post-9/11 veterans about their collective experiences and how technology and The Opportunity Project community can support.
Hearing Veterans Voices: Community + Tech to Support Mental Health
Benjamin Sledge is a wounded combat veteran with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, serving most of his time under Special Operations (Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command). He is the recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and two Army Commendation medals for his actions overseas. Upon returning home, he began work in mental health and addiction recovery. A prolific communicator, Benjamin has authored several viral articles and is frequently featured on Medium.com. His work ranges from fiction, self-help, investigative journalism, Christianity, and the military. Currently he is finishing his war memoir, Where Cowards Go to Die, which will be released by a major publisher in Spring 2022. He lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with his wife, daughter, and son.
Bryan Lane is the Co-Founder of the Artificial Intelligence Center of Excellence (AI CoE) at the US General Services Administration (GSA). Prior to his public service at GSA, Lane was an Active Duty Marine, serving in Fallujah during Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2006-2007. Following the end of his active duty service, Lane spent nearly a decade leveraging geospatial data and emerging technology to mitigate the effects of roadside bombs on the battlefield, which included two tours to Afghanistan as a civilian supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He has led a dozen technology evaluations for the federal government in areas such as remote sensing, advanced automation, data management, and advanced analytics. Lane has worked as a software product manager in the commercial geospatial industry as well. In industry, Bryan was a software product manager for a commercial geospatial data management firm where he expanded product portfolio revenue from $1.25 annually to $50 million over 5 years. Shortly after, the firm was strategically acquired for $250M. Bryan received his B.S. in Economics from George Mason University and is currently pursuing a Masters in Science and Technology Intelligence at National Intelligence University. He is also a writer and a former professional cage fighter.
Colonel Christopher Bourne, US Marine Corps (Ret.) served as an infantry officer during a 28-year active duty career that included command at every level, numerous overseas deployments, and operations and strategy staff positions up to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. In his final active duty assignment, he served as Chief Technology Officer and Chief Training Officer for all Marine Corps forces on the west coast. In 2015 he joined Ben Carson’s Presidential Campaign, serving as National Director of Policy. He joined HUD as a Senior Policy Advisor in June 2017, and subsequently formed the Office of Innovation in January 2019. Christopher holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Boston University, a master’s degree in Military Studies from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College and a master’s degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College in Washington, DC.