Michael “Rod” Rodriguez is a retired Special Forces Green Beret with nine deployments, from his first in Somalia with 10th Mountain Division to his last in Afghanistan with 7th Special Forces Group. His last assignment as a Green Beret was as a Sniper Instructor at Fort Bragg, NC (Range 37). After 21 years of continuous service, he was medically retired for numerous injuries he received while in service to our great nation.

He comes from a military family, his Grandfathers served during WWII, and his father is a Vietnam Veteran. His wife retired recently after 21 years in the U.S. Army, and his eldest son is currently serving with the 82nd Airborne Division and recently returned home from Afghanistan, marking the 16th deployment for the Rodriguez Household. He advocates for Veterans and their families and speaks publicly on the need to decrease the misunderstanding between civilians and the military. He is an active advocate for Art and the impact it has on everyone’s lives; he practices his very own in the form of metalwork and blacksmithing.

Rod is not only the President and Chief Executive Officer for the GWOT Memorial Foundation, in November 2015 he was selected and served for over three years as a member for President George W. Bush’s Military Service Initiative Advisory Council with the role of advising and supporting the President and leadership of the Bush Institute on key Strategic and Programming priorities in support of Veterans and their families. He is on the Veteran Advisory Council for the VA in North Carolina and also assists with several other non-profits and is always only a phone call or email away from both the Civilian and Military community. In 2013 Rod was inducted into the lauded “Explorers Club” based in Manhattan as a “Fellow” for his research efforts on Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress. He is currently a graduate student at Norwich University pursuing a Masters Degree in Diplomacy, but most importantly he is a proud Grandfather, Father, Husband, and Hermano to many.
Kelly L. Rodriguez retired from the Army after serving 21 years on active duty. She served as a Medic in a variety of positions and around the world including five deployments to Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan. Kelly has several awards and decorations including the distinguished Sergeant Audie Murphy award, a Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (3rd award), the Combat Medical Badge, Basic Parachutist Badge, and others. After retiring from the Army, Kelly began a career as a Mortgage Banker, before assuming duties as the Director of Operations for the GWOT Memorial Foundation.
Kelly resides in Fayetteville, NC with her husband Michael, who is also a retired Soldier. They have three sons, the eldest of which serves in the 82nd Airborne Division, and one grandson. In addition to her duties with GWOTMF she continues her service as a board member of the Special Operations Care Fund (SOC-F). Kelly is a proud wife, mother, grandmother, Blue Star Mom, and Combat Veteran.

In this Episode, you will learn:

  • Kelly and Rod’s background
  • The importance of memorials in remembrance
  • Required changes to the Commemorative Works Act to build the memorial
  • Getting input on the development of the monument
  • Multigenerational aspect of service
  • Four tenets of the memorial:
    • Honor
    • Healing
    • Empowerment through Education and Engagement
    • Unite
  • Memorials are for all veterans, not just the veterans whose service is memorialized
  • Transitioning from awareness of veteran mental health to acceptance of veteran mental health
Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Global War on Terrorism Foundation on Social Media:

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Duane France

Duane K. L. France is a combat veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a mental health counselor practicing in the state of Colorado. Do you want to join the conversation regarding veteran mental health? Share, like, and comment. Read Duane's previous posts and follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep the conversation about #veteranmentalhealth going.