Memorial Day weekend represented a new chapter for a 20-year Air Force veteran. After 20 years of faithful service to his country as a C-130 navigator, he decided to retire, but is not giving up flying thanks to a $5,000 scholarship from Stripes to Bars.
At this year’s Memorial Day Run & March put on by Colorado Veterans Project, Brad Littleton, an Embry Riddle Aeronautical University graduate, was awarded his scholarship in front of family, friends and many other attendees.
Littleton, a father of two and husband, is focusing on getting an instrument rating and commercial rating as well. In addition to focusing on a commercial aviation career, he is also looking to use his aviation knowledge to build an experimental airplane.
“To Stripes to Bars and also to CVP I appreciate the opportunity to further my flight training. I never win anything and it was a huge surprise to get the call,” explained Littleton, a Texas A&M University graduate. “I’ve been in the Air Force for a long time and I need to get the civilian training needed to help instruct more people and this will help me get there.”
A local organization, MyGoFlight, has donated an embroidered flight bag to help him in this flight training as he embarks on the new journey after his time in the service.
Changing career paths when leaving the service isn’t always easy. Whether it is changing to a new industry or figuring out how to translate a military specialty into a civilian job, our veterans need direction, guidance and mentorship along the way.
Transitioning veterans often will need support from two different areas. There often are challenges around financially covering education and finding a trusted mentor who can help direct them in their endeavors.
Stripes to Bars is here to ensure our veterans, like Littleton, are afforded the opportunity to get support from every angle possible. At S2B, volunteers, chair members and advisors are pilots, veterans and leaders representing the branches of the military and are positioned throughout the United States, ensuring veterans all over the country have a chance to learn about the aviation industry.
When asked about what he planned on doing after retiring from the Air Force, Littleton explained, “I want to get my civilian instructor license so I can continue to instruct, it was what I loved to do in the service.”
The connection between veteran based not for profits and school systems like Embry-Riddle are of the utmost importance for our veterans searching for direction after leaving the military and pursuing higher education, especially in aviation.
Stripes to Bars understands there are challenges in transition times from active to retired or separated. Some may miss the camaraderie or the structure of the service while others may miss the challenge they faced daily.
A continued shortage and struggle to find qualified pilots in the civilian and military sectors poses a threat to the health of the aviation industry. It takes all types of organizations coming together to help qualified veterans find their way into a new career or continue in a new chapter.
“We’re dedicated to providing support and answers to those veterans looking for help,” explained Clayton Horney, president of Stripes to Bars and UH-72 Standardization Pilot in the Army National Guard. “Our veterans have dedicated their lives to serving their country and we hope we can do our part by easing the transition into their next journey.”
Since opening the doors in April of 2016, Stripes to Bars is proud to have awarded $12,000 in scholarships. Their efforts come from the support of our communities, corporations, individuals and all those wanting to make a difference in the life of a veteran.
For more information on how to partner with or donate to Stripes to Bars, please visit www.stripestobars.com.