Meet the MIGHTY 25 military influencers, advocates and change makers of 2022
Since 2014, We Are The Mighty has recognized and honored the top MIGHTY 25 influencers in the military community. These individuals have gone above and beyond in serving those who wear the uniform and their families, creating an undeniable ripple of extraordinary impact across the world. The class of 2022 is no exception.
Meet our MIGHTY 25:
1. John Perez, Head of Military & Veteran Affairs for Johnson & Johnson
This Army veteran is doing big things for the veteran community with his role at Johnson & Johnson but has been serving for far longer.
- After transitioning from the Army, he attended Yale School of Management where he also led the Yale University campus veteran community. He is also a graduate of the George W. Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program.
- Leads all military and veteran programming at Johnson & Johnson – including industry leading and award winning talent and Veteran-Owned Business initiatives.
- In 2021 and 2022 led the J&J Veterans Lead QuickFire Challenge Series, providing $1 million in grants to healthcare innovators focusing on the unique healthcare needs of the military and veteran communities.
Though known for her extraordinary skills in the sky as a pilot, she shared her journey at the bottom of the ranks.
- While attending college in Minnesota, enlisted as an Aviation Electronics Technician. Her time was so successful she was selected into the Seaman-to-Admiral program – leading her to earn her wings.
- Part of the first ever all-female flyover in the 2019 funeral service for retired Navy Capt. Rosemary Mariner, who was one of the first female Navy jet pilots and the first woman to command an operational Naval aviation squadron.
- In 2022, she became the first female pilot to fly the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet with the Blue Angels.
3. Lt. Commander Kayla Barron, NASA Astronaut and United States Submarine Warfare Officer
Graduating from the Naval Academy is impressive enough but this officer continued to push the envelope all way to the stars.
- Fought to be a submarine warfare officer which was something only newly opened to women.
- Following a successful submarine tour she applied to become a NASA astronaut to further challenge herself – and got it.
- She earned a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge.
This Navy SEAL veteran has done a lot to serve America and the military community but hanging up his uniform didn’t stop his work.
- After being raised as royalty in Africa and losing everything (including his father) he and his family rebuilt their lives in the Bronx. Seeing that his life was going to end up in a bad place because of the decisions he was making on the street, he enlisted in the Navy.
- Adeleke Hollywood by storm after his transition out, becoming an actor in films like Transformers, 6 Underground and recently, The Terminal List.
- When studios wouldn’t take his script for a film on human trafficking and organ harvesting, he made it happen himself. The Unexpected is based on true stories.
5. Charlynda Scales, CEO of Mutt’s Sauce, Air Force veteran
She is a fourth generation veteran who took a chance on a piece of paper, creating a brand new legacy.
- She became the first military officer in her family after being commissioned at her graduation from Clemson University.
- When her grandfather passed, she turned his treasured sauce recipe into a lucrative family business.
- After learning everything she could about launching the family’s business she wanted to make sure others could do the same without all the headaches and financial strain. From TedX talks to TikTok, she’s paved the way for future generations.
She is a proud Navy veteran who is inspiring the next generation of service.
- As the training and development manager for Bunker Labs, she’s made it her mission to ensure veterans are successful in business.
- Won numerous awards for her philanthropic efforts to serve the vulnerable communities around her.
- Since leaving her sailor days behind, has become a best-selling author, award-winning entrepreneur trainer and owns a women’s basketball team in Nashville.
7. Tony Wells, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Verizon, Marine Corps Veteran
From leading in the Marine Corps to the boardroom, Tony Wells is paving the way for countless veterans at Verizon.
- Served on the Board of Directors for Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Make a Wish Mid-Atlantic for years.
- Prior to his position at Verizon, dedicated years of his life to bettering the military customer experience for service members and veterans while working for USAA.
- With his role at Verizon, he uses his platform to increase awareness for military pain points and ensures veteran, active, guard and reserve employees have the support they need.
8. Lindsey Streeter, Senior Vice President of Global Military Affairs for Bank of America, retired Army CSM
He dedicated three decades of his life in uniform but his commitment didn’t to serve end when he retired from the Army.
- He’s a passionate philanthropist, dedicating his voice, time and support to numerous causes supporting vulnerable populations.
- Despite his very busy role at Bank of America, he makes time to mentor veterans and talk with them through transition struggles.
- He continues to serve as a U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador
9. John Boerstler, Chief Experience Officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs and combat-veteran
This Marine combat-veteran NCO has dedicated his life to service.
- After serving in the Corps from 1999-2007, he helped build the Lone Star Veterans Association which eventually turned into the largest coalition of Post-9/11 veterans in Texas; merging with Combined Arms in March 2019.
- Recipient of the Eisenhower and Marshall Memorial Fellowships and traveled to the United Kingdom, France, Denmark, Israel, Bosnia, Hungary and Ukraine in order to write comparative and in-depth papers on their military transition systems.
- In 2021 he was sworn in as the Chief Experience Officer for the VA. His new mission is to ensure our nation’s heroes receive the highest quality of care and experience in every single VA.
10. Mike Hutchings, CEO of Combined Arms, Army veteran
Hutchings is making it his mission to connect every veteran in America with the resources they need.
- After working for civilian companies for a few years he left to pursue a career serving veterans through organizations like the Chris Kyle Foundation and the Lone Survivor Foundation before becoming the current CEO of Combined Arms.
- He is a highly decorated veteran who helped plan over 300 combat operations during deployments.
- He is a Bush Institute Veteran Scholar.
11. Tim Jensen, Chief Strategy Officer for Grunt Style, Marine veteran
From the Marine Corps to his current role as Chief Strategy Officer at Grunt Style, Tim Jensen he shows us the way to awesome.
- He serves on the board of advisors for VET TV.
- Leads Grunt Style’s foundation with a mission to grow philanthropy and service to America’s heroes.
- Started at Grunt Style folding t-shirts and worked his way to Chief Strategy Officer.
12. Liza Rodewald and Erica McMannes, Co-founders of Instant Teams (CEO & Chief Community & People Officer)
From building a globally-recognized company despite many naysayers to creating endless opportunities for the military community – they are absolutely MIGHTY.
- Their company, Instant Teams, has over 26,000 users on its interface.
- They employ over 500 remote team members.
- The co-founded brand has generated over $17 million in yearly income for the military community.
13. Fred Galvin, Retired Marine Corps Major, Author, Speaker & Entrepreneur
After enlisting as a 17-year-old teen he later on commissioned as an officer and served 27 years in the UMSC. Galvin speaks truth to power and isn't afraid to have hard conversations.
- He led the first group of Special Operations Marines in combat during the launch of the War on Terror.
- Served as a nonprofit executive director aiding families of service members killed in action.
- He went toe to toe with Marine leadership over an incident in Afghanistan – refusing to take the fall or allow his Marines to. His book, A Few Bad Men: The True Story of Marines Ambushed in Afghanistan and Betrayed in America, lays it all out for the world to see
14. Vishal Amin, Head of Security Solutions, Microsoft & Marine veteran
From going from grunt to pilot in the USMC to leading at Microsoft as a Senior Director in the cyber defense world, Amin is ensuring our nation is more secure.
- Presidential Scholar of the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program
- For the last seven years he’s volunteered as a mentor for the Travis Manion Foundation
- Despite his busy responsibility load, he makes time to lead as a mentor for Microsoft’s military affairs initiative.
15. Channing Tatum and Reid Carolin, Directors and producers; Dog
This directing and producing duo have done big things to impact the military community through their work in Hollywood.
- Directed, produced and even acted (Tatum) in the globally beloved film, Dog, pulling the curtain on military K9s and the relationships they build with their handlers.
- Worked with HBO to create a documentary on military service dogs, following three different soldiers and their experiences.
- Promoted Dog with a USO base tour to engage military audiences around the world.
16. Danielle Robinson, Surviving Spouse, Activist and advocate
This surviving spouse refused to back down from a battle with legislators and continues to serve in her husband's honor, ensuring benefits for all veterans exposed to burn pit toxins.
- When her husband was diagnosed with a cancer linked to burn pits she worked tirelessly to push the issue to the front of the line.`
- After her husband passed she continued the fight, partnering with numerous organizations to get the PACT ACT signed and passed.
- She is a champion for surviving spouses and ensuring their needs are never put on the back burner again.
17. Heather Prill, Senior Philanthropist, Strategic Partnerships and Program, Home Depot
Championing the causes and needs of America’s warfighters and their families.
- Focused on serving veterans through extraordinary and innovative measures.
- Previous leadership positions include time at United Way serving America's most vulnerable populations.
- She was awarded the “Unsung Hero Award” by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans for her work on the initiative “No Homeless Veteran.”
18. Scott Higgins, Founder & CEO, Veterans Advantage, PBC and Vietnam War Veteran
He left a successful career in the financial world to build a state of the art discount connection hub for veterans.
- He is a Vietnam War Veteran who wanted to ensure every veteran after him received a better welcome home than he and his brothers-in-arms did. Appointed as Co-Chair of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission where he led memorial and parade efforts.
- Higgins works tirelessly to support Vietnam Veterans of America.
- He founded Veterans Advantage in 1999, long before the landscape of service would be changed forever by the attacks of 9/11. It is now the biggest resource for veterans.
19. Antoinette Balta, Executive Director of the Veterans Legal Institute
As the daughter of immigrants from the Middle East, this CA State Guard veteran made it her mission to make legal assistance affordable for America’s service members,
- Graduate of the Presidential Leadership Scholars Class
- Board Advisor for Integrated Recovery Foundation, a group dedicated to providing housing and mental health service to women survivors of military sexual assault.
- Facilitates mobile legal clinics at multiple government, nonprofit and private locations serving homeless and at-risk veterans with legal support.
20. Jennifer Dane, Executive Director of Modern Military Association of America & Air Force veteran
Her service in the Air Force changed her life in many ways and she leveraged those experiences to champion the rights of the veteran LGBTQ community.
- Spearheaded groundbreaking work on changing policy for the LGBTQ community.
- Despite the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” she continues to advocate for those discharged because of it and restoring their hard-earned rights.
- She is a Service Leadership Corps and Veterans in Global Leadership fellow.
21. Juliana Mercer, Warriors to Work Regional Director and Marine Corps veteran
This Marine deployed to both Afghanistan and Iraq during her 16 year career but her work here at home is just as impactful.
- Spent five years providing holistic treatments to veterans at the Wounded Warrior Battalion in San Diego.
- Serves on the boards of several VSOs.
- As the scientific research continues to build surrounding alternative plant treatments, she has stayed a strong, steady voice in getting approval through the VA, one day hoping to make it both affordable and stateside accessible.
22. Andrew Beck, Denver Broncos Tight End
This football player is known for his big moves on the turf but he credits growing up an Army brat for the opportunity at a one in a million NFL career.
- Annually champions a cause which serves the military community. Recently partnered with a nonprofit that raises K9 service animals for veterans.
- Named the 2021 recipient of USAA’s Salute to Service Award for his incredible work in the military community, resulting in $50,000 in donations to the USO and Freedom Service Dogs (Beck’s choice!).
- Partnered with USO Colorado on a variety of initiatives, even hosting a military appreciation bbq for military families at Fort Carson - the same base where his family was once stationed.
23. Ron Rivera, Washington Commanders Head Coach
This Super Bowl winning football player-turned-coach was born and raised on Army bases across the world.
- Actively works with the USO and TAPS to support military families.
- Often invites military members and veterans to attend practices and speak to his team, inspiring even the most famous players in the locker room.
- Frequent participant in the USAA Salute to Service Lounge at the Super Bowl experience, Rivera makes talking to military kids and encouraging them to follow their dreams a priority.
24. Lester Lumbad, President, Southern Nevada Veterans Chamber of Commerce & Air Force veteran
Served as active duty and later as a military spouse during his lifetime. In his time since, he’s devoted his civilian career to championing veterans.
- He founded the Southern Nevada Veterans Chamber of Commerce to better connect veterans with one another and the resources they need to be successful.
- During his time as a military spouse overseas he saw first-hand the difficulty of maintaining a career and utilized those experiences to champion military spouse employment.
- Volunteers his time mentoring veterans seeking entrepreneurial opportunities after the military.
25. Chase Millsap, writer, producer, storyteller, veteran Marine Corps Officer and Green Beret
From graduating the Naval Academy as a Marine Infantry Officer to becoming a Green Beret, he is the absolute reality of what it means to be badass:
- While his production efforts with the United States Army Field Band resulted in an Emmy for the special “Sounds of Service,” more importantly, it celebrated the service of veterans from every war.
- One of the first voices pushing to support war allies and interpreters in the halls of Congress and beyond.
- Currently producing Small Town Strong, the story of how a combat-veteran rallied his town to battle an enemy combatant attacking at home: opioids.
From all of us here at WATM, we thank you for being MIGHTY.