2017 Veterans Grant Winners

To recognize the sacrifices veterans have made for our country, the law firm of David Resnick & Associates is awarding cash grants to men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces.

“On Your Side, Fighting For You.”

That’s the motto at David Resnick & Associates. It also applies to veterans. While our firm fights for injured victims in the courtroom and at the negotiating table, veterans were on our country’s side, fighting to protect all of us. We believe it’s time to honor deserving vets.

We are proud to announce that we have chosen our three winners.

  • LS2 Marco Griffin Navy
  • SPC Kyle Rindfleisch, Army
  • SPC Manuel Ortiz, Navy

1st Place

LS2 Marco Griffin, Navy

Nominated by SGT Marquia D. Berry, USN and LT Tenitha M. Ramsey USN

Essay by Marquia D. Berry: I would like to nominate Marco Griffin for the cash grant. Marco is a Navy veteran who served from 26 June 2009- 28 March 2017. I have known Marco for most of my life, and knowing him, has been a great pleasure. He is hard working, driven and dedicated. He is such an inspiration to everyone he comes in contact with.

He served in the Navy for almost eight years. While serving as a Logistics Specialist, he’s traveled all over the world and accomplished various milestones in his military career. He received the following awards: Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy Good Conduct Medal (2 awards), Volunteer Service Medal, and two Flag Letter of Commendations from Admiral David Woods. Marco was handpicked to sing the National Anthem at a change of command ceremony in Guantanamo Bay. He has always had a heart of giving back. He never meets a stranger wherever he goes. He has always believed in treating others the way that he would want to be treated and that motto has allowed him to be loved by everyone that he meets. He has given back to organizations and various foundations.

One of the ways that he has given back, he decided to ride in the 2014 Multiple Sclerosis bike ride in honor of a friend who could not ride. He rode 100 miles and raised $1,400.00 and in 2015 he rode 150 miles and raised $2,500.00. In 2016, he couldn’t ride due to his own health conditions, but he volunteered during the race. This, within itself, exemplifies selfless service and great acts of kindness.

With us being family and both of us being in the military, we have kept up with each other and the paths that we have chosen to take. Marco worked hard throughout his military career and had planned to retire after twenty years. His health took a turn over the last two years of his career and he was forced to medically retire. He was devastated because that is not how he wanted his career to end. Even with all of that, he managed to pick himself up and move forward with his dream of becoming a Physician Assistant. Now is a student at Campbell University in North Carolina, and he is majoring in Pre-Nursing with hopes to become a Physician Assistant. He’s very humble and he often times doesn’t realize how much he inspires others to accomplish their goals just by the lifestyle that he lives. Just last year, he was at the point of death due to various heart conditions along with being in and out of the hospital. Throughout his trials, he has kept on pushing through. He has gathered up some motivation and found the drive within to keep pushing through despite the odds he’s faced. That motivates me in so many ways. Seeing him keep going, I can’t let a complaint come out of my mouth. I push my problems to the side and say “If Marco can keep pushing, then so can I” and pick myself up and push through. His life is the perfect example of perseverance and dedication.

His goal of becoming a Physician Assistant is now the center of his focus. He is determined, working non-stop, and studying hours upon hours to accomplish this goal. His hard work and dedication will soon pay off. Marco could use the grant money to go towards school costs to ease the financial burden. He is more than deserving of receiving this grant.

2nd Place

SPC Kyle Rindfleisch, Army

Nominated by himself.

My name is Kyle Edward Rindfleisch and I served from January 6, 2014-April 27, 2017 in the United States Army. Out of all of the veterans that will participate in this contest I believe I am deserving of a cash grant for college because of my 3 years of over-seas service and my ambition to receive a college education.As a senior in high school I knew two things: I wasn’t quite ready to attend college and I had a strong urge to serve my country. Seeing all of my friends go off to college enticed me to do the same, but I stuck with my gut and decided to visit the recruiting stations in Lakewood, Ohio. After talking with the Navy, Marines, Air Force, Army and my parents I decided to enlist in the Army for 3 years 16 weeks as an 11B (infantryman). Out of all of my high school friends I was the only one to enlist in the military despite them trying to convince to go to college- a decision that I’m proud I made to this day.

After signing the papers and formally enlisting I trained for months with the recruiters and took all of the necessary steps to ensure my experience in the Army would be as good as possible. Finally on January 6, 2014 I shipped off to basic training. For 14 weeks I worked as hard as I could, I out-performed most of my peers and for this I was awarded a spot in Airborne School and I was chosen to serve with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team in Vicenza, Italy. I was ecstatic to be chosen to serve with the most elite and sought after Airborne unit in all of the United States Army as all of my training and hard work was already paying off. Having successfully completed basic training and Airborne School I took a quick week of leave to visit my family and then left for Italy. Upon arrival I was assigned as a machine gunner for 3rd Platoon Battle Company 2nd Battalion. The third day I was there I was already jumping out of Chinook helicopters and learning things very few people have the opportunity to learn.

In August 2014 we deployed to a small Baltic country called Estonia on the border of Russia following the aggressive acts of Russia towards Crimea and Ukraine. For three months we protected the border and deterred any following acts of aggression Russia might have. Returning back to Italy in late November I was told of the tryouts the battalion was having for the Scout Snipers section of the unit. I participated in them and out of roughly 50 people I was one of the 4 chosen to become a sniper despite only being a private and having no previous experience. All of my perseverance and dedication was paying off time and time again. As a Scout Sniper I deployed to the Turkish-Syrian border following the expansion and aggressiveness of ISIS and to Latvia, another Baltic country bordering Russia, to help deter Russian aggression once again. During these deployments we trained rigorously to remain the best in our unit, we used some of the best equipment and were given the greatest and most arduous opportunities. We were held to the highest standards and expected to meet them at all times, something I valued heavily.

Coming up to then end of my contract I had two choices: re-enlist or get out and go to college. I chose the latter due to the fact that no one in my family has ever served or has graduated from college, and I want to be the first to do both. Leaving the service was a sad time but in the end was the prudent choice for my future. I’m glad I served and I look back everyday at the memories I made with my battle buddies and peers. In the end I believe I deserve a cash grant for college because of my constant dedication to our country in my time of service, the sacrifices I made being over-seas for three years without seeing my family and continuously striving to be the best soldier/patriot I could be.

3rd Place

SPC Manuel Ortiz, Navy

Nominated by himself.

The Evolution of a Veteran The United States military is an organization that consists of less than 1% of individuals from all over the nation, individuals who carry different cultural backgrounds, ethnicities and religions. What makes the U.S military personal admirable is that they each carry a story, with reasons in why they swore an oath to uphold the constitution. During my time in the service I have met many people who deserve to be recognized for various reasons. They have not only held themselves to a higher standard but also upheld many of the military values that reinforces why the U.S military is unparalleled to any other. However, if I had to nominate anyone that would be deserving of a cash grant as of right now, it would me.

So why nominate myself? Well to start off I would like to introduce myself from the very beginning. I am Manuel Ortiz, a 25-year-old senior at Florida Gulf Coast University and a former artilleryman in the U.S army. When I was young I grew up with many setbacks that would have sure paved a way for me. These setbacks included living in poverty with a two-bedroom trailer as my home with my single mother and two younger siblings. It also included having a limited amount of resources that could have helped a lot me in school, simple things such as a computer with Internet. Not only that, I didn’t have a English-speaking mother that could have helped me through many hard times in school because she was at work most of her days, just so she could feed the family. I did so many things in my childhood that could have potentially led me to a disastrous path; I even got a tattoo on my neck at the age of 15 that reflected the kind of people I associated myself with around that age. This kind of struggle opened up my eyes, as I got older, especially when I had finally graduated high school, which was in the year 2010. That in itself was a huge accomplishment because I was at the point where I didn’t even think graduation was going to be a task I would be able complete, but I proudly did. However, upon my high school graduation I was left with nowhere to go, no short or long term goals to keep me motivated. That’s when I was led towards to serving in the military.

When I walked in the armed forces center in Fort Myers, Florida in 2011, I was pretty much shot down by every branch and it was all due to my neck tattoo. This was understandable considering that it looked unprofessional to many. Luckily, the Army branch considered giving me a chance through a waiver. Soon after, the Army enlisted me on April 5th, 2011 and I was soon due to go to basic, which was located in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. I also got the chance to extend my time in Fort Sill for my AIT, which is the Advanced Individual Training that focuses on a soldier’s MOS (military occupational specialty). Upon my completion in August of 2011 I had orders to Fort Carson, Colorado with the 4th Infantry Division in the 2-77 field artillery regiment as my unit. Upon my arrival to Colorado, I had learned that my unit had orders to go to Afghanistan. But before we could go, we were sent to Fort Polk, Louisiana for JRTC, which is the Joint Readiness Training Center, a site used for training that was needed for deployment. These times were memorable because many of us newcomers got a taste of the real life military lifestyle.

The following year we got scheduled to deploy on March 7, 2012. I was excited but scared because it was my first time leaving the country. Our destination was a two-week transit; our stops were from Colorado to Maine, Maine to Germany, Germany to Kirgizstan, Kirgizstan to Afghanistan. Then from Afghanistan we were sent to Bagram, which is the huge airfield where many of the military branches stay during transit. Then from Bagram my company was separated to various Forward Operating bases (FOB) they were going to embark upon. My platoon was then sent to FOB Connolly, which was a base that was slowly closing up and had us spend two months in. FOB Connolly was an “easy” mission, as stated by our higher ranks because we had barely experienced any indirect fire (IDF) or conducted many fire missions. That mindset would however change after we had learned we were scheduled to the COP (Combat Outpost) Honaker-Miracle. COP Honaker-Miracle was a different mission because this outpost was based off in the deep mountains in between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was in the same province as the infamous Restrepo, A place highlighted for its notorious experiences. We had also learned of many stories that were located in COP Honaker-Miracle but we knew what our mission was there, so we held strong.

I will say that my time there was much different and there were times that made me look back at my life. There were also times there I thought I was not going to make it back home because of the multiple firefights my platoon had been through. It was through the help of my fellow service men that kept me strong. It also helped that we were closely bonded to one another and we lifted each other’s spirits when we needed it. Coming home was also a complete transition. We had to reestablish ourselves in a place we had lost touch from. Many of us came back from traumatic experiences that caused us to break up our very own families, which is disheartening because these are the side effects of deployment and the sad reality for many of us who serve. There are many other experiences I had during my time in the service; they range from being involved in change of command events, going to another training center which was NTC (National Training Center), flag detail and even funeral detail. These are experiences I will forever hold because they made me realize the importance of not just being apart of the armed forces but being blessed to live in a country such as ours.

My contract ended in April 5, 2014, and I made the choice to come back to Florida to attend school and to enjoy time with my family again. During this time I helped my mom become a legal citizen of the United States with the help of the Military and even started school with becoming a dentist as my long-term goal. I had also started on the tattoo removal of my neck tattoo to start my path in becoming a professional. Nonetheless, I am grateful to serving in the armed forces and making it the best out of it. It made me rethink my future and it also led me to become a better version of myself. I integrated the army values in my personal life and to this day have helped me achieve in what most people didn’t think I could achieve. I am currently a senior at Florida Gulf Coast University located in Fort Myers, Florida with a major in Environmental Studies with my prerequisites for dental school as a part of my curriculum. I am glad to what I have accomplished so far and could not have done it without the help of the military. Upon my completion at Florida Gulf Coast University, I plan to go to dental school, come back in as a dentist in the Army and to help veterans and civilians alike. I would also like to be a role model for others to show that anything can be done, to my siblings and other people who have hopes in doing something and are in similar situations that I grew up in.