RET. MAJOR GENERAL
(PR) MARTA CARCANA
When Michael's grandfather (US ARMY) passed away in November 2015, he wanted to do something in his honor for our great military. After much research, dedication, and connections, he founded what is now VetsEDU - a national not-for-profit private educational organization.
In addition, Michael is the broker/owner of Armed Forces Realty which focuses on the military/Veteran market. He has over 10 real estate certifications and designations pertaining to the military/Veteran market.
Michael is a graduate of Hofstra University Lambda Pi Eta (Honors) and currently has his real estate brokers license, loan originators license, property and casualty license, life and health license, and his notary public.
Michael lives each day in honor of his grandfather in making sure every Veteran has the ability to achieve the American Dream of home ownership!
RET. MAJOR GENERAL (PR) MARTA CARCANA
Ret. Major General (PR) Marta Carcana
Ret. Major General (PR) Carcana was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant through direct commission program in the Army Nurse Corps. She has occupied positions of increased responsibilities to include Clinical Nurse, USA MEDDAC Womack, Clinical Nurse, 201st EVAC Hospital, Head Nurse, PRARNG Medical Command, Deputy Commander-Chief Nurse, PRARNG Medical Command, Military Assistant to the Chief of Staff, 101st Troop Command (FWD), Chief of Joint Staff, PRARNG Element JFHQ, and Director of the Joint Staff, PRNG JFHQ.
General Marta Carcana became the Adjutant General, Puerto Rico National Guard Adjutant General, on September 25, 2015. As the Adjutant General, she was the Governor's senior military advisor and oversaw both state and federal missions of the Puerto Rico National Guard. She provided effective leadership and management in the implementation of all programs and policies affecting more than 10,000 citizen-soldiers and airmen and three components of the Puerto Rico National: Army National Guard, Air National Guard and State Guard. General Carcana has over 15 major awards and decorations. She is also the 1st hispanic woman to ever become an Adjutant General let alone a Major General.
Since getting his start in 1995 as a loan officer at American Eagle Mortgage Bankers, a Licensed NYS Mortgage Banker (a company that his father, a Captain in the US Army, formed), David has educated thousands of Veterans up and down the east coast showing them how they can use the VA Home Loan Program to realize the American Dream of Home Ownership.
Veterans on the whole did not know much about the VA Home Loan Program & those who did had a very difficult time finding someone that was familiar with the VA Loan Program. From that point on David decided that he would focus exclusively on working with Veterans.
In 2000, David along with his father formed the Veterans Homebuyers Network with the vision that they could go beyond the mortgage aspect of the home buying process & incorporate education about Real Estate & credit restoration as well. It was at that point the Veterans Homebuyers Network became a one of kind company that gave Veterans access to everything they would need to use their VA Home Loan benefits. Today, the Veterans Homebuyers Network is the educational coordinator for VetsEDU.
David has partnered up with many Veterans organizations in the NY area such as various American Legions, VFWs, Vietnam Veterans, IAVA, NY DOC, etc. to deliver the message of home ownership to Veterans. In 2016 The Veterans Homebuyers Network became a Yellow Ribbon Provider with the NYS Army & Air National Guard.
Having been honored twice by the Military Order of the Purple Heart and by the Black Veterans for Social Justice for his work with Veterans, David has never stopped in his mission to see that every Veteran who has a desire to own a home gets the information and resources needed to see that dream come true.
RET. Brigadier General José R. Burgos
PHILLIP A. STRINGFIELD
RET. Sergeant Major
Steve Stern – Honorary Advisor on Veterans Affairs
Steve Stern is proud to serve as an Honorary Advisor on Veterans Affairs for VetsEDU.
Mr. Stern is a New York State Assemblyman, representing the 10th Assembly District. Assemblyman Stern previously served 6 terms as Suffolk County Legislator. In representing Suffolk County with distinction and commitment to providing outstanding constituent services, Assemblyman Stern has also authored several legislative initiatives that have been the very first in New York State and even first in the nation.
Assemblyman Stern strongly believes that when a soldier goes off to protect the ground we stand on, it is unacceptable that he or she should have to come home to sleep on it. He introduced and passed the “Housing Our Homeless Heroes Act,” an important legislative initiative to end Veteran homelessness to ensure that our Veterans and their families always have a place to call home.
Assemblyman Stern is also the author of the “Protect Our Fallen Heroes Act” which protects military funerals from reprehensible and disrespectful protests upon families grieving the loss of their loved ones to ensure respect for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our great nation.
Assemblyman Stern assisted in coordinating Congressional hearings for the US House Select Committee on aging, focusing on issues of elder abuse, long-term care, and health and legal services for Long Island’s senior citizens. He graduated from Tulane University and received his law degree from Western Michigan University TMC Law School, graduating Cum Laude. He is a Certified Elder Law Attorney (CELA), awarded through the National Elder Law Foundation and is admitted to practice law in New York and Florida. He was also elected a Fellow of The New York Bar Foundation.
In addition, Assemblyman Stern has served as adjunct Professor of Law at Touro School of Law, is a past trustee of the Multiple Sclerosis Society-Long Island Chapter, and a past Vice-President of the Suffolk Y-JCC. He has been featured in Newsday, the New York Times, and Long Island Business News. Assemblyman Stern is proud to have been chosen as “Man of the Year” in Government, particularly for his dedication to our Veterans and their families by the Times of Huntington.
RET. COMMAND SERGEANT MAJOR PHILLIP A. STRINGFIELD
CSM Stringfield was the 8th State Command Sergeant Major / Senior Enlisted Advisor of the Georgia Army National Guard and Georgia Department of Defense based at Marietta, Georgia.
He enlisted in the Active Army as an Infantryman (11B) with the 82d Airborne Division in 1981. He enlisted in the GA Army National Guard in 1991 as an Armored Personnel Carrier Driver (11H). His military education includes: Airborne School, Jungle Warfare School, Primary Leadership Development Course, Basic and Advanced Non-Commissioned Officers Course, and Sergeant Majors Academy. He has also completed the Unit Career Counselor Course, Mortar Transition Course, Anti-Armor School, Bradley Fighting Vehicle Commanders Course, and Observer/Controller Course. CSM Stringfield graduated from Bellevue University, earning a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Leadership in 2007.
CSM Stringfield has held a number of key leadership and staff positions in his 30 years of service to the Georgia Army National Guard. From 1991– 2000 he has served as an APC Squad Leader, APC Section Sergeant, Fire Direction Chief and Mortar Section Sergeant for the 2nd BN, 121st IN in Albany, GA. He went on to serve as the Mortar Platoon Sergeant in HHC, 2-121 IN BN, while deployed in support of SFOR 9 in Bosnia. Upon the redeployment from Bosnia, he was assigned as the First Sergeant of HHC 2-121 IN BN. In 2005, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served as the Operations Sergeant Major for 2nd BN, 121st IN. His exceptional ability to lead and command in combat found him as the Operations Sergeant Major for G5, 1st Army, and Fort Gillem, GA. In 2007, he served as the Net Fielding Manager for the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (light) on the full time side and as an M-day Soldier served as the Command Sergeant Major for 2-121, IN BN. Once again, he was called to deploy with the 48th Brigade in 2009 as the Task Force North Command Sergeant Major to Afghanistan in support of Phoenix IX. Upon his return, he was appointed as the Senior Enlisted Advisor for Family Programs in the J-9.
CSM Stringfield’s awards and decorations includes; the legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal (w/1OLC) , Meritorious Service Medal (w/3OLC), Army Commendation Medal (w/4OLC), Army Achievement Medal (w/3OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal (w/5OLC), National Defense Service Medal (w/ campaign star), Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Parachutist Badge, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (w/ hourglass, M Device, and numeral 2), Humanitarian Service Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon (w/ numeral 4), Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (w/ numeral 2), NATO Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ Campaign Star and NATO Afghanistan Service Medal. He has also received the Order of Saint Maurice.
CSM Stringfield is married to Yvonne Stringfield and has three children Devin, Brandon, and Brittany. He currently resides in Tifton, Ga and is a member of Union Grove Baptist Church.
Brigadier General José R. Burgos
Brigadier General José R. Burgos was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico and was commissioned into the United States Army Transportation Corps in 1984 from the University of Puerto Rico – Rio Piedras Campus ROTC Program. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Sciences, a Master's Degree in Business Administration and a Master’s Degree in Military History.
His military education includes: Transportation Officer’s Basic and Advance Courses, the Combined Arms and Services Staff School (CAS3), the Logistics Executive Development Course, the United States Army Command and General Staff College, the Reserve Components National Security Course, the Inter American Defense College, and the Advanced Joint Professional Military Education (AJPME).
Brigadier General Burgos began his officer career as a Platoon Leader, 268th Transportation Company; HHD Commander, 346th Transportation Battalion; Commander, 268th Transportation Company; Assistant Battalion Maintenance Officer, Battalion S-1 and Battalion Operations Officer, 346th Transportation Battalion, in Puerto Rico. In 1997 he served with the 32nd Transportation Group as the group’s Operations Officer. In 2000 he became the Battalion Executive Officer for the 332nd Transportation Battalion in Tampa, Florida.
From 2002 to 2005 Brigadier General Burgos served with Headquarters, Fifth United States Army, San Antonio, Texas. While assigned to Fifth Army, he deployed to Kuwait and worked in the planning and execution of the re-deployment of combat, combat support and combat service support units. In June 2005, he deployed again as the 1185th Transportation Brigade Deputy Commander where his brigade was the single port manager and operator of the Port of Ash Shuayba, Kuwait.
In 2006 Brigadier General Burgos served as commander, 1185th Transportation Brigade and in 2008 he attended the Inter American Defense College in Washington DC. In 2009 he served with the 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) as the Assistant Chief of Sbgtaff, Support Operations (SPO) in Los Angeles, California. Brigadier General Burgos then served as the commander of the 1189th Transportation Brigade in Charleston, South Carolina from May 2010 to May 2012. In May 2012 he was transferred to Fort Lee, Virginia where he became the Chief, Office of Reserve Affairs, US Army Transportation Regiment and School. He assumed command of the 1st Mission Support Command on October 2013 and was promoted to Brigadier General in December 2013.
Brigadier General Burgos' awards and decorations include: the Legion of Merit (with two oak leaf cluster), the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal (with Silver and Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Commendation Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters), the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Army Achievement Medal (with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters), the Iraqi Campaign Medal (with campaign star), the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with “M” and “3” devices and Silver Hour Glass Device, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon, a Meritorious Unit Citation and the Army Superior Unit Award. Brigadier General Burgos is a recipient of the “Honorable” and “Ancient” Order of the Saint Christopher Medal. He was inducted into the Inter American Defense College “Wall of Heroes” in Washington D.C. on October 3, 2014.
Sergeant Major Max Garcia
Sergeant Major Max Garcia attended recruit training in 1994 at Parris Island, South Carolina. After completing Amphibious Assault Vehicle Crewman School at Camp Pendleton, Private First Class Garcia was assigned to 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina in March of 1995.
After deploying with 1st Battalion 2nd Marines and 1st Battalion 6th Marines on the 22nd and 24th Marine Expeditionary Units Sergeant Garcia attended Drill Instructor School at Parris Island, South Carolina in September of 1999. He was then assigned to India Company, 3rd Battalion as a Drill Instructor and Senior Drill Instructor. In January of 2003, Staff Sergeant Garcia reported to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion, Camp Pendleton, California where he completed two deployments to Iraq in support of the 7th Marine Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II.
In 2006, Gunnery Sergeant Garcia was selected to be the Assistant Marine Officer Instructor at the University of South Florida in Tampa. During this assignment Gunnery Sergeant Garcia was a Drill Instructor augment at Officer Candidate’s School during the summers of 2006 and 2007.
In 2009 First Sergeant Garcia reported to Combat Logistics Company 16, Yuma, Arizona and augmented a year later to Combat Logistics Regiment 15 forward in Afghanistan. In 2012 First Sergeant Garcia reported to Fleet Anti-terrorism Security Team (FAST) Company Europe, Rota, Spain. In June of 2014 he was promoted to Sergeant Major and assigned to Combat Logistics Battalion 31, 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Okinawa, Japan, deploying multiple times throughout the Pacific region. In May of 2017 he reported to his present duty station at 3d Assault Amphibian Battalion, Camp Pendleton, California.
Sergeant Major Garcia’s personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with one gold star, the Navy Commendation Medal with one gold star, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with combat “V” and two gold stars, and the Combat Action Ribbon.
Sergeant First Class Latoya Council
Ret. Staff Sergeant Katherine Ragazzino
Ret. Staff sergeant
Shane Perret, 1SG USA Retired, enlisted in the Kansas Army National Guard as a M60A3 tank crewman in September 1991. He later entered active duty as a M1A1 tank crewman in 1995. His extensive military leadership and experience include assignments to Friedberg, Germany; Fort Riley, Kansas
(4 times); Fort Knox, Kentucky; Camp Shelby, Mississippi and his last assignment was with the Army’s Soldier for Life office in DC.
Throughout his career as an Abrams Master Gunner he was the advisor to the commander on all training and operational matters during peace and combat environments. During his last assignment as an ambassador for the Army Chief of Staff and the Sergeant Major of the Army he collaborated with the government(DOL, SBA, VA,SVA), non-profit, and corporate organizations for the betterment of care and quality of life for veterans and their families through health and wellness, employment and education.
Sergeant First Class Latoya Council
Sergeant First Class Latoya Council is from Fayetteville, North Carolina. She enlisted in the United States Army in September 2007 as an 42A Human Resources Specialist. SFC Council’s military education include, Senior Leaders Course, Advance Leader Course (Distinguished Honor Graduate), and Warrior Leaders Course. SFC Council holds a Masters Degree in Healthcare Administration from Grantham University where she graduated with Honors.
SFC Council has served in a myriad of positions as a Human Resources Sergeant to include; Squad Leader, Officer and Enlisted Records Clerk, Evaluations, Executive Administrative Assistant, and Senior Human Resources Sergeant. She has participated in two combat deployment, one to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and one to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.
Her awards and decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal, six (6) Army Commendation Medals, seven (7) Army Achievement Medals, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Korean Defense Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 3). SFC Council is also a recipient of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Medallion.
SFC Council is still serving and joined VetsEDU to give back to the community of Veterans that served and continue to serve by playing a vital role in helping them achieve the American Dream of Homeownership.
ret. staff Sergeant Alicia Figueras-Lambert
Alicia Figueras-Lambert, reigns from North Babylon and is a proud Black/Puerto Rican that has a passion in her heart for today's youth, Veterans, and the incarcerated. She has an eclectic background from being a retired Veteran, drug interdiction agent, ran for New York State Governor (2010), teaching cognitive behavior in the jail system, now and hosting her own television show, “A Name to Know” - a television show interviewing celebrities, top CEOs, and non-profit organizations.
With a desire in her heart to work with Veterans, she became the first Black/Hispanic officer of the Bay Shore American Legion and continues to support the efforts and interests of Veterans. Having spent two years working with Congressman Steve Israel (first term), it gave her an opportunity to build relationships with business owners across Long Island and throughout the region.
Today Alicia focuses on being a liaison to active military personnel and Veterans as it relates to homebuying education. She is very proud to have joined forces with VetsEDU in making that happen.
Alicia and her husband (also a Veteran) fight with fire in their bones for the equality of today’s Veteran.
Ret. Staff Sergeant Katherine Ragazzino
Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Katherine Ragazzino joined the Marines 18 months after graduating high school. She initially worked in Administration, but became a Marine Corps Martial Arts Instructor, proficient in both lethal and non-lethal tactics, who trained and deployed with Special Operation Capable Units. Ms. Ragazzino also became a Camp Pendleton Range Inspector.
Ms. Ragazzino was deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. While in Iraq in 2004, she sustained a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that dramatically affected her life. Though she did her best to overcome both cognitive and physical impairments, Ms. Ragazzino’s injury proved to be serious and long-lasting.
In December 2007, Ms. Ragazzino was transferred to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. At Balboa Hospital, she was placed in the Comprehensive Combat Casualty Care Center (C5) to help her with the brain injury and post-traumatic stress. For a year and a half, Ms. Ragazzino lived on hospital grounds with injured Marines and other service members as she received daily treatment. In June 2009, she was Honorably Discharged and Medically Retired from the Marines.
While Ms. Ragazzino was receiving treatment at the Naval Medical Center, the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund Organization reached out to her; she became a core member on Team Semper Fi and was given the opportunity to go on an expedition to Nepal in 2010 with Soldiers To Summits. This amazing opportunity changed her life in a spiritual way that she had never felt before. This journey of change was filmed, and the documentary “High Ground” was released in early 2012.
Upon her return, many ongoing circumstances lead Katherine and her service dog to become homeless for close to a year. She lived in her car with her dog, Daisy. It is because of the Semper Fi Fund and their supporters, however, that she is thriving today. While with the Semper Fi Fund, she was introduced to Friends of Firefighters, who became her host organization, through The Mission Continues.
Ms. Ragazzino is proud to become an ambassador for the VetsEDU organization in order to give back to those who saved her life.
Alberto Maldonado (Purple Heart Recipient)
DaMel M. Williamson
Ret. Lance Corporal
RET. Lance Corporal James Bruno
James Bruno, a United States Marine Corps Veteran, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2012. Lance Corporal Bruno began his military training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma where he became a 0811 Field Artillery Cannoneer. He was later assigned to Hotel Battery 3rd Battalion 14th Marines in Richmond, VA. There he was able to fulfill his reserve commitments as well as work as a federal contractor for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in Rockville, MD .
About a year later, Lance Corporal Bruno made his way back to his hometown of New York City where he was assigned to 6th Communications Battalion in Brooklyn, NY. In 2014 he was selected for active duty with the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force (GCEITF ) in Camp Lejeune, NC. The core intent of the Marine Corps' Force Integration Plan was to maintain the highest levels of combat readiness by establishing and maintaining rigorous gender-neutral standards, enhancing warfighting capabilities and realizing the potential of every Marine.
Now retired, he has joined VetsEDU to give back to his fellow Marines and all military by helping them achieve the American Dream of Homeownership.
Corporal DaMel M. Williamson
Corporal DaMel M. Williamson a United States Marine Corps Veteran was assigned to the 6th Communication Battalion. Here is where he was charged with providing communication support to the Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group (MHG) or to a designated Joint Task Force (JTF) command. Additionally, he provided Ground Mobile Forces Satellite support to MHG in the conduct of its mission.
Corporal Williamson’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was a Logistical Vehicle Systems Operator where he acquired 19 licenses to operate and aid to the mechanics of every tactical vehicle in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Corporal Williamson hosted a slew of Annual Trainings (AT) and deployments which added up to over 15 states and countries and was charged to man a plethora of diverse trainings to his fellow Motor Transport (Motor-T) Marines.
Corporal Williamson later entered active duty when President Bush declared war for deployment in January 2003 and served in Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom war (OIF/OEF) on Camp Commando in Kuwait. There is where he was the senior Corporal and was in in charge of the 203 Motor-T Marines along with 3 other Non-Commission Officers(NCO).
Corporal Williamson’s unit was the first military personnel in Kuwait. He aided in the gentrification of the camp, and in later months, all military personnel were present - U.S. Military and foreign Military alike.
Every promotion Corporal Williamson received was meritorious and he received an honorable discharge.
Sgt. Alberto Maldonado – Purple Heart Recipient
Sgt. Alberto Maldonado, a United States Marine Veteran Purple Heart Medal Recipient, served 2 tours in Iraq as the "Ammunition Chief” with H&S Co. in addition to Multiple Line Companies. Sgt. Maldonado was in charge of all ammunitions during Training & Combat Operations. Sgt. Maldonado was attached to 3rd Battalion 1st Marines (3/1) which is an infantry battalion in the United States Marine Corps.
Sgt. Alberto Maldonado was deployed to Kuwait March 3rd, 2003 to meet his Infantry Unit that was already in position and took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, including the Battle of Nasiriyah. The unit then re-deployed to Iraq in mid-2004 and was based near Fallujah. They were the main effort in November 2004 during Operation Al Fajr (pronounced Al Fad-jer), the retaking of the city of Fallujah. Before the assault commenced, the operation was known as Operation Phantom Fury.
3rd Battalion, 1st Marines was part of the composition of RCT 1. RCT 1 was partly responsible for clearing the infamous Jolan District among others. Here is where Sgt. Maldonado was injured 3 times and earned his Purple Heart Medal & NAM with a combat "V" for VALOR & 2 Meritorious Promotions.
In spite of his wounds he continued to fight and finish his mission and deployment. Sgt. Maldonado was responsible for moving over 1.2 million high explosives & small arms ammunitions by himself. Sgt Maldonado lost 38 Marines that deployment. His unit issued 433 Purple Heart Medals to 332 Marines.
Veteran Melissa Mintern
Melissa Mintern is a Veteran of the USAF. She was a computer programmer and MP after the attack on 9/11.
Since leaving the Air Force she has pursued her passion for helping Veterans understand and apply for their benefits particularly their education and home ownership benefits.
Melissa has worked in the mortgage industry for 14 years focusing on Veterans and their families. She volunteers to educate other real estate professionals on the benefits of partnering with Veterans.
Melissa looks forward to expanding her current work to reach veterans directly via the VetsEDU platform.