Inspiring Stories of Service: Amy Sexauer, U.S. Army Reserves

Amy Sexauer, U.S. Army Reserve member, dedicates her time to writing about the things closest to her: rebirth, memory, and identity through the lens of a Veteran. Her new book, “Poppies,” details her personal journey through war, loss, and change.

Connect with her Inspiring Story of Service and learn more about how poetry has become a way for her to navigate life.

Inspiring Story of Service | PTSD Awareness Month – Josh Sandor

Josh & Emma, 2018 | Mixed media on canvas © Susan J. Barron

Former U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Joshua Sandor was born and raised in the town of West Milford in northern New Jersey. After graduating from high school in 2001, Josh joined the Army at age 17. In August, he attended basic training at Fort Knox, Kentucky, to become a cavalry scout. “I remember my recruiter trying to tell me about all of these great jobs and career paths I could take, and I had to stop him mid-sentence,” Sandor recalls. “I wanted to be a scout. I already knew that was what I wanted to do.”

On September 11, 2001, Josh found himself on the qualifying range for rifle marksmanship when the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center began to unfold. In his words, “Our chaplain came out to our range after a post-wide cease-fire was directed for all range operations. We all felt something was wrong and later, as our chaplain spoke, we knew our time on the range was not just to qualify, but to prepare for war.”

Josh outside a Combat Outpost in South Balad Ruz, Iraq, 2008

Sandor deployed to Iraq in March 2003 with Bravo Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division as a Bradley Fighting Vehicle driver, redeploying in March 2004. In October 2007, he deployed again to Iraq with Fox Troop, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. It was during this deployment that Josh served as a gunner in his platoon’s lead vehicle in the infamous Diyala Province. Sandor shares with us the story of how he was injured on this deployment.  “On Dec. 18 late at night, we were returning to our base after a fairly routine mission in a Kurdish controlled area. We were getting close to home when I remember telling our driver to stay left ahead to avoid going over a massive pothole in the road. As he maneuvered the HMMWV (Humvee) around the hole, it detonated. I don’t remember too much of the initial strike. There is a moment of numbness and peace before the chaos sets in during a blast. It all happens so fast that there is no time to react to anything. When I regained consciousness, my eyes were burning so bad I could not see, and my entire right side hurt badly. I went to move, but was told to stay still for the medic. Our crew all survived three artillery rounds that were packed with explosives and designed to detonate together as we went by. A foot-long piece of shrapnel was coming through the inner back wall of the truck but was stuck about a foot away from my back. Had it made it through, I would have been gone. The up-armored HMMWV saved our lives, no doubt.”

Images from the IED blast: “We were the lead Vehicle and heading back to the Kirkush Military Training Base where our Forward Operating Base (Caldwell) was located, IED blast December 18, 2007.”

Josh exited the Army in April 2010 and began his transition back to civilian life. The blast took its toll on him both physically and mentally. He knew his life was changing and day-to-day living became increasingly more difficult. Army doctors diagnosed Sandor with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2009, and in 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs again diagnosed Josh with PTSD and TBI. 

Josh and his daughter, Emma, at the opening of Depicting the Invisible in New York, 2018.

When asked what compels him to share his story and experiences, Josh told us, “Depicting the Invisible has given me a voice and a voice for those who cannot speak or are not ready to talk yet. Being chosen to share my story of service with you at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum is such an amazing moment in my life. I have given myself and my story to Depicting The Invisible. I also volunteer as an outreach officer with Freedom Fighter Outdoors to help Veterans. I keep both close to heart. I was saved because I came out of the shadows where I felt stuck. I want all Veterans to know that if I can find the strength and courage to come forward to get help, so can any Veteran.” 

Family photo of Josh with his wife and daughter, Emma.

Depicting The Invisible: A Portrait Series of Veterans Suffering from PTSD by mixed-media artist Susan J. Barron, is now on view at the National Veterans Memorial and Museum through Jan. 2, 2022. For information about visiting in-person or experiencing a virtual tour of this exhibition, visit

In May of 2019, Josh opened his business, Patriot Mobile Detailing in Milford, P.A. He shares, “I am very proud to have started my own business. It is small but growing steadily every day.” Learn more: 

Serving Others is a Way of Life

by Colonel Gregory Allen, U.S. Army (Retired)

Despite coming from a long family lineage of military service, I never dreamed of making the Army a career. My father, along with his four brothers, all enlisted in the military. He retired after 20 years including combat tours in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. My grandfather and uncles from my mother’s side of the family (she’s German) all gallantly served in WWI and WWII.

Upon graduation from West Point in 1988, I was commissioned in the Field Artillery and was stationed with the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson. Our division did not deploy to the Middle East in support of Desert Storm. Instead, we were tasked with training up the National Guard at Fort Hood, TX. I had numerous classmates who served in Operations Just Cause and Desert Storm, but I missed out. My mind was made up then to leave the military, but I had a friend who convinced me to try out for a position in the Ranger Regiment. That decision changed my life.

After serving in 2nd Ranger Battalion, I became a Green Beret and served with 1st Special Forces Group. I had the opportunity to experience different cultures across the globe in locations including Korea, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Papua New Guinea and Kuwait, just to name a few. It was during this time that I gained my appreciation for service, especially for those less fortunate. The Special Forces motto, “De Opresso Liber,” meaning “To free the oppressed,” was more than just a slogan for me. It became a way of life.

Several years later, I was part of the initial invasion of Iraq and was fortunate to be part of the team that rescued Pvt. Jessica Lynch. Upon return from Operation Iraqi Freedom, I became Director of Operations for the Washington Army National Guard, culminating my career as the Chief of Staff. I spent 11 years with the National Guard, to include another combat tour in 2008-2009, but I also had the opportunity to serve my community in my home state. I had the extreme pleasure of commanding citizen soldiers who helped their communities by quickly responding to domestic emergencies like floods, mudslides and forest fires.

Even though I am no longer jumping out of airplanes and traveling to exotic places, my life is far from boring. I retired in August of 2015, and have helped Veterans find employment opportunities while helping Veteran-owned businesses get their products and services out to the civilian sector. The last couple of years, I have worked with other Veterans developing disaster response plans for Fortune 500 companies, while providing PPE in support of COVID-19.

Warrior Society USA,

Frontline Equipment,

Additionally, I am involved with numerous nonprofits that support our underprivileged children like the Washington Youth Academy and the Kiwanis Club. As a Board Member for the Catholic High School from which I graduated, I have attended numerous encounters and retreats with the students and serve as a guest instructor once a quarter to teach leadership classes. I am truly blessed that I get to share my experiences and lessons learned from my 27 years of service with the future leaders of our country.

Colonel Greg Allen retired from the military in 2015 after spending 27 years in uniform. He served in a variety of units to include the 4th Infantry Division, the Ranger Regiment, Special Forces and the Washington Army National Guard. Upon retirement, Greg continued his service by helping Veterans find employment while consulting for Veteran Owned Businesses. For the past couple of years, he has focused on providing emergency management services and supplies for both the public and private sector. Greg serves on several non-profit boards that support the children and youth in Washington State.

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