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“Varied Salute to Service” Veterans talk about the meaning of post-service

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“Variety Salute to Service” marked its third year in a row of airing on the History Channel on November 11, Veterans Day, featuring stories from veterans about their transition to new and meaningful jobs after separation from service.

The show was hosted by comedian Seth Meyers — the host of “Late Night With Seth Meyers” — and provided snippets of select veterans who “continue to answer the call of duty beyond the call of duty,” Meyers said.

“My transition from the Army wasn’t ideal,” said Steve Jimenez, a retired Marine Corps captain who is a spotlight on the program. “I was dying on the inside. I got really depressed, and pretty much isolated myself for about three years.”

In the end, Jimenez found solace in an unlikely profession: beekeeping. He started Hives for Heroes in 2018 with the slogan “Save Bees – Save Vets” to emphasize the nonprofit’s mission to use bee conservation as a tool to get individuals off active duty.

“I really credit the bees for saving my life,” Jimenez continued.

The program also honored Kenny Bass, a retired Marine Corps corporal who was wounded by an improvised explosive device at age 23 while serving in Iraq. The accident resulted in traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and tinnitus—all of which Bass struggled to deal with until he met a German Shepherd named Atlas in late 2012.

Bass said Atlas gave a former Marine a “new lease of life,” which prompted him to start the Battle Buddy Foundation six months after Atlas was adopted. The nonprofit is raising money for disabled service veterans to receive a trained service dog at no cost. Bass said service dogs typically sell for between $10,000 and $60,000.

“After about eight or nine years of taking three to 33 pills a day during that time frame, the most effective prescription was a prescription.” [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] Bass said.

Other veterans who have received recognition on the program are Justin Matejic, Dan Feller, Beau Rodriguez, Brock Jackson Kahn, Cliff Hagan, Moriah Nesbitt and more. The ways these individuals have found renewed motivation after service range from hosting a rock climbing group to setting up a mental health practice.