Father’s Day brought many celebrations for families around the nation, none more joyful than this year for Brad Branum, his wife and four children.
Branum, a father, veteran of both the U.S. Navy and Army, husband and aviation enthusiast was awarded the second of two $5,000 scholarships from Stripes to Bars, a public charity enabling qualified veterans to earn Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificates. He received his award at the Coastal Skies Flying Club at Pearland Regional Airport.
Alongside his family and Stripes To Bars team members, Branum received his scholarship with a look of determination as he was ready to take on this new future.
Additionally, to help him along the way in his flight training, he was presented an embroidered flight bag from MyGoFlight.
Branum’s journey began when he decided to use his military benefits to go back to school for a degree in the aviation field. It was when he was speaking with leaders from Embry-Riddle University he learned of a scholarship opportunity from Stripes to Bars. 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.
When asked about his decision to change careers and pursue aviation, Branum, a 16-year veteran of the United States Navy and Army explained, “I transitioned into the civilian sector and immediately went to work as an Electronic Engineer for Samsung. While it was a good living and provided stable employment for my family, my heart always wanted to fly. It was then that being a pilot became my goal, eventually leading to my commercial ratings and flying for a living.”
Stripes to Bars knows service members may face similar challenges to Branum in their transition out of their military service. There are times the men and women who have served their country miss the challenge, structure and direction they once had during their time serving their country.
Pursuit of a career in aviation is a solution for those looking for a new, exciting change of careers. The challenge at hand is explained in a recent news story, which has shown us there is a true need for pilots with a national and global pilot shortage stating, “The Boeing Pilot Outlook predicts a need for 117,000 new pilots between 2017 and 2036 in North America alone. Worldwide, the demand for new pilots will be an astounding 637,000 during the same period. Service members frequently describe feeling lost during the transition from military to civilian life. Aviation can provide the necessary challenge and structure during this frequently difficult time.”
Many veterans leaving their branch of service need a two-pronged support system when searching for a new career path or continuing a new chapter within the same industry. For some, mentorship is paramount, while others seek financial assistance first.
Stripes to Bars is here to ensure our veterans, like Branum, get both of these concerns addressed. The team is made up of pilots, veterans and leaders from different branches of the service and are spread throughout the country to assist those in need.
“Our organization is here to not only help answer the need for financial assistance to those veterans searching for a new career in aviation, we are here to ensure there is a plan in place with open opportunities to mentor these men and women along the path they are embarking on,” explained Clayton Horney, president of Stripes to Bars and UH-72 Standardization Pilot in the Army National Guard.
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.org.