Blake Schroedter, Sergeant First Class
Honored by the Chicago Bears
Blake joined the U.S. Army to serve his country and open doors to a college education. Two years later, he crossed the border of Kuwait, into Iraq, with his Army unit. He was 20 years old.
When Blake returned from a year in Baghdad, it was clear that his mind had been pushed to its limit during deployment. He tried seeing a psychologist but felt a divide; they couldn’t relate to his war experiences.
“My time with the Army inspired a new mission: to help fellow veterans returning home from war.” This vision pushed him to pursue his Doctorate in Psychology. After completing his degree, Blake wants to work for a VA Medical Center and continue to serve in the Illinois Army National Guard as a clinical psychologist.
Emily Thompson Schelberg, Marine Sergeant
Johns Hopkins University, Master’s in Nursing
Honored by the Baltimore Ravens
Emily was raised in a culture of service among her family. Many of her family members served in the military, in emergency medicine or as firefighters. But ultimately, it was the loss of one family member on 9/11 that motivated her to join the Marines.
After basic training, Emily was deployed to Iraq. It was during her deployment, while assisting Navy Corpsmen on a humanitarian aid mission, that Emily realized her desire to work in healthcare. She was touched by the impact a single well-trained medical professional can have on a population with limited access to basic healthcare and realized the medical field was her true calling. She is pursuing a master’s in nursing with the goal of becoming a nurse practitioner with an emphasis in orthopedics, and plans to serve underprivileged communities.
D’Onior Felton, Petty Officer Third Class
George Washington University, Doctor of Medicine
Honored by the Washington Redskins
Growing up in Clarksdale, Mississippi, D’Onior aimed to work in public health but never dreamt of becoming a doctor. She joined the U.S. Navy and worked as a hospital corpsman with a specialty in surgical technology. There, she gained the confidence and the aspiration to become a physician.
During active-duty, D’Onior earned a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland. After separating from the service in 2005, she completed pre-med prerequisites on her way to entering medical school at George Washington University.
D’Onior’s goal is to provide healthcare to underserved communities in the south and continue volunteer medical missions abroad. She also wants to participate in community-based programs to combat negative health outcomes for youth, particularly teen pregnancy.
Patrick Nelson, Staff Sergeant
Minnesota State University, Bachelor of Science, Sports Management and History
Honored by the Minnesota Vikings
Patrick Nelson is a former paratrooper with 39 months of combat experience while serving nearly seven years of active-duty in the U.S. Army. During two deployments in Afghanistan, Patrick took online classes and graduated with honors earning an Associate of Arts degree from Central Texas College.
At Minnesota State University, Patrick maintained a 4.0 GPA and volunteered at the YMCA Big Brother program. In the future, he would like to work for a professional sports organization and coach local sporting activities.
Patrick has also started a nonprofit called Real Combat Life. It is an online portal for veterans to share their stories and educate the public on what life is like in combat from a firsthand perspective. He recently won a $25,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Everything program to help bring his nonprofit to life.