In this high-value post, you’ll get exclusive access to the Best Veteran Charities in 2021 to include detailed information about the top military and veteran charities (non profits).
Hi Veterans, Brian Reese here from VA Claims Insider, and today I’m bringing you “The Insider’s Guide to Over 75 Revised and Expanded Veteran Charities!”
We’ve also separated specific veteran charities by product/service category to assist you in your search.
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- Deployed Military and Combat Veteran Charities
- Education and Scholarships Best Veteran Charities
- Employment and Job Training Best Veteran Charities
- Fitness, Sports, and Entertainment Veteran Charities
- Homeless and Housing Veteran Charities
- Hunting, Fishing, and Outdoors Veteran Charities
- PTSD and Mental Health Veteran Charities
- Service Dog Best Veteran Charities
- Transitioning Veteran Charities
- About the Author
Deployed Military and Combat Veteran Charities
United Service Organizations (USO)
With over 160 centers worldwide, the USO works to support military and vets with a variety of programs and services. The USO helps with everything from entertainment for our troops and helping soldiers stay connected with their families to assisting vets with transitioning back into their communities.
Mission: Cell Phones for Soldiers Inc. is a national nonprofit dedicated to providing cost-free communication services to active-duty military members and veterans.
Americans support our Troops serving in times of war in many ways: Writing letters, mailing care packages, welcome home events, or by showing support for a deployed service member or Veteran’s family. OCC provides support and comfort to “adopted” units of deployed U.S. military service members, serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other conflict regions. Working within communities and through donations received from all over the country, OCC assembles and ships care packages to adopted units every month until they return home. They currently support up to 200 units monthly.
Operation Troop Appreciation, West Mifflin, PA, provides wish list items for deployed military units across the globe, with a special focus on those serving in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Africa. The wish list items are intended to ease the burden of deployment, contribute to safety, and enable our troops to perform more effectively.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
Mission: Caring for the families of America’s fallen heroes. TAPS provide a variety of programs to offer compassionate care to those grieving the loss of a loved one who died while serving in the Armed Forces, or because of service. TAPS has helped more than 70,000 surviving families, caregivers, and casualty officers since the nonprofit was founded in 1994.
Founded in 2011, Just Our Soldiers’ Helpers (JOSH), is an IRS Approved 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that is volunteer led and operated. We are in Lake Mary, Florida, but ship to troops who are deployed from all over the United States. Everybody associated with JOSH volunteers their time and resources to accomplish our mission. We hold monthly packing events at the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 30 or the Sanford Moose Lodge, both located in Sanford, Florida.
Mission: to provide help for wounded Green Berets and their families, and the families of those that gave their lives for our country. The Green Beret Foundation serves the Army’s Special Forces, our nation’s most elite soldiers. We believe Green Berets are our nation’s greatest assets. Every day, we honor our commitment to Green Berets past and present, as well as their families, by connecting them with the right resources to prosper and thrive. Because when these soldiers meet powerful opportunities, our nation’s most elite soldiers become our nation’s best leaders.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
Mission: We are here to serve and empower our post-9/11 veteran’s community. We believe these dynamic men and women represent America’s future – our next greatest generation. They are our true north, and everything we do is designed to focus on them and the positive future they bring to the world.
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)
Mission: VVA’s goals are to promote and support the full range of issues important to Vietnam veterans, to create a new identity for this generation of veterans, and to change public perception of Vietnam veterans. Founded in 1978, Vietnam Veterans of America is a national non-profit organization that advocates for Vietnam Vets through legislation, community support, and local and national events that recognize veterans from all service eras. VVA’s mission is to ensure that Vietnam Vets get the care and respect that they have earned.
Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation
Mission: The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Foundation seeks to provide unique and urgently needed services that improve the lives of veterans, military personnel, and their families all the while supporting positive citizen involvement for the betterment of U.S. communities.
Our main mission is to support our troops and their families. We do this by providing supply boxes for deployed troops, moral support for trainees and families, recognizing and voicing appreciation for our veterans’ needs. We also provide informational and relational support for the families of troops and veterans. Over 90% of what we raise goes to our troops, veterans, and their families. 10% of our funds is used for administrative, outreach and training costs for our large team of volunteers.
Education and Scholarships Best Veteran Charities
Since 2007, the Folds of Honor has carried forth a singular, noble mission: To provide educational scholarships to spouses and children of America’s fallen and disabled service-members. Folds of Honor is truly one of the best veteran charities and grants up to $5,000 per year in academic scholarships for the dependents of disabled veterans who have service connected disabilities rated at 10% or higher. VA Claims Insider is proud to be a 1-Star Sponsor of the Folds of Honor Foundation!
Mission: Since 2008, the Pat Tillman Foundation has provided academic scholarships, professional development opportunities and a national network to empower the Tillman Scholar community. These scholars are making a difference in the fields of healthcare, business, public service, STEM, education, and the humanities.
Mission: Providing need-based college, technical and vocational school scholarships and pathways to employment for children and spouses of our troops.
Bob Woodruff Family Foundation
Bob Woodruff, a journalist, was critically injured while reporting for ABC’s “World News Tonight” in 2006. Bob spent 36 days in a medically induced coma, and his wife, Lee, was introduced to many families of service members dealing with Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injuries. While Bob eventually recovered, the Woodruff family made it their mission to help military and veterans struggling with these issues and many more.
Today, the Bob Woodruff Family Foundation has helped more than 2.5 million Veterans and Families by investing $45 million in innovative local and national programs and nonprofits. They have awarded over 370 grants for research, education, training, and other worthy causes.
Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation
As a scholarship program for children who have lost a parent in the line of duty, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation provides much-needed support for struggling military kids and surviving spouses.
Mission: to promote the awareness and understanding of history, science and service through its collections, exhibitions, and programming to honor our heroes, educate the public and inspire our youth. The Intrepid Family of Foundations funds The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, The Fisher House Foundation, The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and The Intrepid Relief Fund, making a difference in the lives of countless military, veterans and their families through aid and educational experiences.
Mission: To forge strong bonds between Americans and their Military and First Responder Heroes through volunteer services projects, acts of gratitude, and meaningful engagements in communities nationwide.
Mission: aims to advance the American heritage of freedom by honoring and encouraging military service, defending the sovereignty of the United States, and promoting a strong national defense. They do this through such programs as scholarships for the children of veterans. Freedom Alliance not only supports our troops, we fight for a free and sovereign nation in which “We the People” determine our own destiny.
Raises funds for scholarships to assist individuals to attend programs for emotional healing, including providing programs for military veterans to heal the emotional wounds of war.
To provide funds for those unable to pay for participation in Taking It Lightly and Renewal, programs designed for emotional healing and trauma recovery, and Healing Warrior Hearts, free retreats for veterans.
Mission: Blue Star Families (BSF) strengthens military families every day. Through career development, caregiving, and our leading research on military family life, we’re striving to better understand and provide solutions to the challenges facing today’s military families.
Mission: The Gary Sinise Foundation was established under the philanthropic direction of a forty-year advocate for our nation’s defenders, actor Gary Sinise. Its outreach supports those who sacrifice to defend our country: active duty, veterans, first responders, and their loved ones. While our mission is broad, we’ve created nine key programs to show gratitude for our American heroes through entertainment, family support, and acts of appreciation. The Gary Sinise Foundation works to ensure the sacrifices of America’s defenders and their families are never forgotten.
Employment and Job Training Best Veteran Charities
At the very core of all our programs and content is relationship building. We help veterans build professional networks. Everything we do supports the opportunity for a transitioning veteran to have a conversation with a hiring manager, so they both my learn from one another, discuss career opportunities, and begin to build a relationship that may lead to meaningful employment.
The vision of Train Our Troops is to provide each U.S. veteran, and their spouse, with skill sets that will enable them competitive advantages in the crowded marketplace, whether they want to start a brand new career, or simply add additional skill sets to their existing resume of experience to make themselves more valuable. Train Our Troops focuses on getting veterans, and their spouses, trained, prepared, and engaged in the marketplace to obtain solid positions to better support their families and excel in their individual careers. We want to ensure veteran families remain strong in a challenging work environment and be successful in any organization or profession.
USA Cares is committed to its mission to provide financial and advocacy assistance to post-9/11 active duty U.S. military service personnel, veterans, and their families. USA Cares was launched through a grassroots partnership between WAVE-3 TV in Louisville, KY, the Mid-South Division of Kroger Food Stores, and the Association of the United States Army Fort Knox Chapter.
Mission: Hire Heroes USA provides free job search assistance to U.S. military members, veterans, and military spouses, and we help companies connect with opportunities to hire them.
Mission: The Mission Continues is a national veterans organization dedicated to the empowerment of veterans as community-based leaders. We invest in veterans and under-resourced communities, developing new skill sets and equipping a growing veteran volunteer movement with the tools to drive positive change.
Fitness, Sports, and Entertainment Veteran Charities
The mission of Team Red, White & Blue (Team RWB) is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.
Mission: Dedicated to helping our nations heroes through extreme sports. “We utilize as many veteran extreme sports as we can to take the edge out of civilian life. Some of us have wounds left over from combat, others can’t be seen — but we all benefit from getting out and meeting people that have been in our shoes.”
Veteran Tickets Foundation, Tempe, AZ, supports military, veterans, and their families by providing free tickets to sporting events, concerts, and family activities (with a small delivery fee). Veteran Tickets Foundation’s Tickets for Troops Program is dedicated to giving back to those who gave us so much. We team up with major sports teams, leagues, promoters, organizations, venues, and everyday event ticket holders to provide free tickets to currently serving and veterans of all branches of the US military. The Veteran Tickets Foundation is proud to announce that to date 9,444,772 event tickets have been given out in all 50 States and Washington, DC to our Military, Veterans, and their families.
Through their Bikers Helping Veterans program, they help bridge the gap between the Battlefield and the Home front by assisting returning Veterans. Started in 2012 by a Veteran with a passion for motorcycles and for helping other people, he decided to mainly focus on fellow Veterans. As time went on a few friends stepped in to assist with program ideas and additional funding to kick-start it.
Homeless and Housing Veteran Charities
Fisher House Foundation is a national not-for-profit organization established to provide support for the Fisher House program that provides free housing and “a home away from home” for the families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. Since its founding in 1990 by Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, the organization has helped more than 305,000 families, saving them more than $360 million in out-of-pocket costs for housing and transportation.
To build and donate specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives. Homes for Our Troops (HFOT) is a publicly funded 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization that builds and donates specially adapted custom homes nationwide for severely injured post-9/11 Veterans, to enable them to rebuild their lives. Most of these Veterans have sustained injuries including multiple limb amputations, partial or full paralysis, and/or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). These homes restore some of the freedom and independence our Veterans sacrificed while defending our country, and enable them to focus on their family, recovery, and rebuilding their lives. Since its inception in 2004, nearly 90 cents out of every dollar spent has gone directly to our program services for Veterans. HFOT builds these homes where the Veteran chooses to live and continues its relationship with the Veterans after home delivery to assist them with rebuilding their lives.
Military Warriors Support Foundation
Military Warriors Support Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity, founded by LTG. Leroy Sisco (Ret), in 2007. Our mission is to provide support and programs that facilitate a smooth and successful transition for our nation’s combat wounded heroes and Gold Star families. Our programs focus on housing and homeownership, recreational activities, transportation assistance and leadership development. Through our programs, we award mortgage-free homes and payment-free vehicles to combat wounded heroes and Gold Star spouses. In addition to the home or vehicle, the families receive family and financial mentoring.
Genesis Joy House Homeless Shelter
Facilitates social change and empowers veterans and community by providing enrichment programs and counseling services to improve quality of life. Our supportive transitional housing programs offer our country’s homeless female veterans a chance to realize their potential and achieve their dreams.
A community-based not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. We are dedicated to supporting nearly 3,000 homeless, low-income, and at-risk veterans in the Bay Area every year. We offer employment and job training, supportive housing programs, permanent housing placement, counseling and case management, and legal services.
Mission: We are a 50l(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization that provides displaced and homeless veterans with the social services needed to totally reintegrate them back into society. Such services are food, shelter, clothing, referrals for training in vocational, educational and job placement goals, community service referrals, individual and group counseling and other such services and facilities designed to meet their physical, social and psychological needs and to promote their health, security, happiness and usefulness in society. During their program, every veteran receives intensive counseling on both an individual and group basis to deal with combat/service-related conditions such as anger management, substance abuse, combat stress, PTSD, and other mental health disorders.
New England Center and Home for Veterans
Mission: The New England Center and Home for Veterans (NECHV) was founded in 1989 and is one of the Nation’s largest private resource providers for Veterans of every era who face challenges and/or are at-risk of homelessness.
Hunting, Fishing, and Outdoors Veteran Charities
Mission: Military Outdoors (SCMO) is at the forefront of a national movement to ensure every veteran in America has an opportunity to get outdoors when they return home after service. “Military Outdoors organizes outdoor trips for veterans, other service members, and their families, because we know that time spent in nature provides a unique experience to foster mental and physical health, emotional resiliency, and leadership development.”
Mission: Empower veterans to overcome challenges associated with military service through outdoor training and leadership. “Our approach is strategic and holistic — focusing on three main areas — the mind, body, and giving back purpose.” “Our goal is to create an outdoor community that builds trust, comradeship, and support networks among veterans during trips and in their home communities. Create opportunities for employment in the outdoor industry and related fields. Improve the veteran’s quality of life.
Reel American Heroes Foundation
The Reel American Heroes Foundation has been recognized as a Top Veteran Nonprofit Foundation for 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Works with military hospitals and military bases to provide recreational therapy for our nation’s wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, disabled veterans, and combat veterans by getting them out on the water to fish and duck hunt.
Freedom Hunters is a 501(c)3 Military Outreach program dedicated to honoring those who protect our Freedoms. Our mission is to salute the noble work of our courageous men and women of our Armed Forces. Freedom Hunters reflects the outdoor community’s appreciation to our troops by taking select active duty and combat veterans, families of fallen heroes, children of the deployed, as well as those wounded or injured, on outdoor adventures. Freedom Hunters mission is empowered by the generous support of many: sportsmen, conservation groups, state agencies, outfitters, corporations, and landowners.
Trinity Oaks is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded on the premise that active participation in the outdoors is a powerful, healing, and fundamentally life-changing experience. Trinity Oaks’ mission is to use hunting, fishing and outdoor activities to give back and make a meaningful difference on the lives of others. For decades, we have known of the philosophical shift that outdoor activities cause within those who participate in them and how that profoundly impacts the wellness of our society. Since 2007, we have impacted over 3,400 of people who otherwise would not be able to afford the experience of the outdoors.
PTSD and Mental Health Veteran Charities
Veteran’s PATH enables returning veterans to discover meaning, purpose, and joy in their lives through mindfulness, meditation, and a safe community. Through practical tools of meditation and mindfulness, physical and outdoor experiences, and a community of camaraderie, veterans rediscover peace, acceptance, transformation, and honor in a new journey forward.
Mission: Soldiers’ Angels is a national nonprofit organization providing aid and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, their families, and a growing veteran population. Our team of over 100,000 volunteers assist veterans, wounded and deployed personnel and their families in a variety of unique and effective ways.
The fundamental purpose of BR Soldier Outreach is to provide comfort items from home to our deployed men and women across the globe. Since 2017, BR Soldier Outreach has overseen the gathering, packing, and shipping of thousands of pounds of comfort items to scores of service men and women serving selflessly abroad.
Mission: Believing that when one person serves the whole family serves, Project Sanctuary takes a human-centered, solution-based approach to helping military families heal and move forward in life. Through innovative long-term programming focused on connectedness, we restore hope and empower families to recover and thrive.
The Courage Foundation’s mission is to foster post-traumatic growth, restore purpose and transform lives through integrative self-awareness, physical health, mental toughness, emotional resilience and spiritual well-being. Courage Foundation educates, equips and empowers veterans living with Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) with the skills, resources and training to thrive. We seek to restore a sense of purpose, hope and connection for veterans with PTS who desire to cultivate more meaningful and courageous lives.
At Boot Campaign, our mission is to unite Americans to honor and restore the lives of veterans and military families through individualized, life-improving programs. Less than 50% of military personnel and veterans who experience invisible wounds receive care, compared to 83% who have visible wounds. We want to change that. Boot Campaign’s comprehensive health and wellness program targets the big five invisible wounds: PTSD, traumatic brain injury, chronic pain, self-medication, and insomnia.
Mission: We are patriotic citizens committed to serving our wounded, injured and ill veterans. We support Veterans and their families by building relationships and identifying and supporting immediate needs and interests. We are dedicated to promoting public awareness of the many sacrifices made by our Armed Forces.
Our Mission: We help veterans and first responders throughout the Pacific Northwest access, effective, long-term solutions to transform Post-Traumatic Stress into Post-Traumatic Growth. Our Vision: Is for every veteran, first responder and their families, a fulfilled life within reach of their dreams: our hope is for every American the will to make it a reality.
Mission: Heal Our Heroes is dedicated to supporting veterans by raising awareness and funds to combat PTSD and eradicate the staggering suicide epidemic. “Heal Our Heroes has partnered with organizations that can effectively provide the attention and care required for the thousands of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines who have endured and continue to bear the psychological burdens associated with our country’s time at war.”
Mission: Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and disabled veterans through fly fishing and associated activities including education and outings. “Project Healing Waters brings a high-quality, full-spectrum fly fishing program to an ever-expanding number of disabled active military service personnel across the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, in Military Hospitals and the Warrior Transition Command.”
Our Mission: Give an Hour’s mission is to develop national networks of volunteers capable of responding to both acute and chronic conditions that arise with our society. By harnessing the skill and expertise of volunteer professionals, we can increase the likelihood that those in need receive the support and care they deserve. Give an Hour works to match military and veterans struggling with mental health and well-being with volunteer health professionals that can help them recover. The nonprofit has provided 210,000 hours of service with over 858 active volunteers and 390 partner organizations.
H.E.R.O.E.S. Care is a collaborative effort among well-established non-governmental organizations (NGOs) designed to provide complete and proactive support for members of all branches of the military and their families through pre-deployment, deployment, family reintegration and post-deployment. The program consists of a network of tens of thousands of trained caregivers and thousands of professional mental health care and service providers working together to provide an unprecedented system of support for military members and their families.
Mission: Warrior Bonfire Program provides opportunities that improve the lives of enemy combat-wounded veterans—Purple Heart recipients—on their lifelong journey of recovery and healing. Your donations create activity-based, stress-free environments that promote camaraderie and therapeutic healing.
Service Dog Best Veteran Charities
Mission: Helping veterans and pets create new beginnings together. “Our goal is to help heal the emotional wounds of military veterans by pairing them with a shelter dog that is specially selected to match his or her personality.”
Providing highly trained service dogs tailored to meet specific veteran needs at no cost to the qualified and deserving veteran. The MK9s Service Dog Solution – MK9s seeks to provide highly trained service dogs tailored to meet specific veteran needs at no cost to the qualified and deserving veteran. Costs are kept to a minimum by a dedicated all volunteer force who raise and train the puppies for free. Costs are therefore limited to purchasing the puppies, feeding and veterinary care during the training period.
Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs
Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, Inc. was established for the charitable purpose of: 1) rescuing, raising, and training the highest caliber medical service/assistance dogs, 2) pairing highly trained dogs with individuals afflicted by disabilities, including a focus on veterans with combat wounds, 3) building/restoring independence and improving quality of life, for both the recipient and the dog, while minimizing reliance on government, communities, caregivers, and families 4) advancing successful service dog training practices by promoting appropriate trainer education and contributing to related research studies 5) pursuing increased public awareness and education regarding current disability laws and contributing to new/enhanced laws regarding service dogs.
Since 2010, our whole focus has been to rescue dogs from local shelters and pair them up with veterans at no cost to the veteran and provide all the training to help them become ADA compliant. The dogs are trained to help the veteran through situations in their daily lives that are inhibitive.
The nation’s largest service dog provider. They have volunteers and heroes in every state and continue to grow daily. Contact them if you are a disabled veteran in need of a service dog.
Semper K9 rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to be service dogs at no cost for disabled service members.
Mission: Our service dog program provides dogs to veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other challenges such as hearing loss, seizures, and balance issues.
The mission of Patriot PAWS is to train and provide service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to disabled American veterans and others with mobile disabilities to help restore their physical and emotional independence. Patriot PAWS intends to build partnerships with state and community organizations to help develop and support this goal.
Mission: NEADS World Class Service Dogs (“NEADS Inc.”, formerly known as National Education for Assistance Dog Services and Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans) was established in 1976.
Transitioning Veteran Charities
Serving all branches of the military, Semper Fi Fund provides emergency financial assistance to post 9/11 vets who are wounded, critically ill, or were injured during their service. The nonprofit also provides support for vets and their families to provide a smooth transition back into their communities.
Mission: Hope for the Warriors, founded in 2006, has several areas of focused aid to benefit different needs of veterans, including: sports and recreation, community development and engagement, transition services, and health and wellness. “We provide a full cycle of care to restore self, family, and hope to post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen.”
Since 2010, OSD’s Veteran Support Ecosystem has impacted over 1,000,000 veterans, active military and family members through award-winning programs emphasizing Social Connectivity, Professional Development and Community Service. Working together with community members, OSD creates and nurtures an environment with the goal to improve local communities and assist veterans as they transition to civilian life.
Mission: The Navy SEAL Foundation provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the Naval Special Warfare community and its families.
The Honor Foundation (THF) is a unique transition institute created exclusively for the U.S. Special Operations community. We provide a clear process for professional development and a diverse ecosystem of world class support and technology. Every step is dedicated to preparing these outstanding men and women to continue to realize their maximum potential during and after their service career. THF exists to serve others with Honor, for life. So that their next mission is always clear and continues to impact the world.
Mission: Backpacks for Life’s mission is to provide a unique and personalized support system for homeless and at-risk veterans who are struggling to reintegrate back into civilian life. We want veterans of all eras to be able to seamlessly and confidently reintegrate and thrive in civilian life; equipped with the right tools and solutions to do so. Through our two main programs, we can effectively support and empower our veterans, reigniting the flame inside of them.
About the Author
Founder & CEO
Brian Reese is a VA benefits expert, author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned, and founder of VA Claims Insider – “The Most Trusted Name in Education-Based Resources for Veterans.”
His frustration with the 8-step VA disability claims process led him to create “VA Claims Insider,” which provides U.S. military veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned for successfully submitting or re-submitting a winning VA disability compensation claim.
Brian is also the CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, which is the world’s largest free searchable database for all things related to DoD disability and VA disability claims and has served more than 4,600,000 military members and veterans since its founding in 2013.
His eBook, the “9 Secrets Strategies for Winning Your VA Disability Claim” has been downloaded more than 300,000 times in the past three years and is the #1 rated free VA disability claims guide for veterans.
He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).