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Arthur

Arthur Pue, U.S. Army Veteran

Arthur Pue is the President of Engineering Sales Associates (ESA). ESA is a Charlotte, NC-based, family and Veteran-owned business, established in 1961. ESA is a solutions provider for compressed air and liquid ...

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Arthur

Arthur Pue, U.S. Army Veteran

Arthur Pue is the President of Engineering Sales Associates (ESA). ESA is a Charlotte, NC-based, family and Veteran-owned business, established in 1961. ESA is a solutions provider for compressed air and liquid filtration and is a major industrial stocking distributor specializing in virtually every facet of the Industrial Compressed Air and Liquid Filtration fields. ESA prides itself in providing the best in quality, energy savings and true solutions through our Compressed Air products. Arthur served as an Enlisted Soldier in the US Army Special Forces (Green Berets). As a member of an Operation Detachment Alpha with a focus in Military Freefall insertion, Arthur served as the Senior Weapons Specialist (18B), employing conventional and unconventional warfare tactics and techniques in individual and small unit Infantry Operations. Arthur was awarded the Combat Infantryman’s Badge as well as the Bronze Star for actions while serving in Afghanistan. Arthur was born and raised in Charlotte where he attended Charlotte Country Day School. He earned a BA from Hampden-Sydney College. Arthur is a founding and current Board Member of Charlotte Bridge Home. In addition, he serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Independence Fund.

David

David Henniger

David Henninger brings to bear over 30 years of marketing and operations leadership experience to The Independence Fund. He is currently the President of AtYourGate, an in-airport personal shopping service. Previously, David ...

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David

David Henniger

David Henninger brings to bear over 30 years of marketing and operations leadership experience to The Independence Fund. He is currently the President of AtYourGate, an in-airport personal shopping service. Previously, David served as the CMO at Hooters of America as well as the VP of Marketing at the convenience retailer, Kangaroo Express, where he led the Salute our Troops campaign that raised millions of dollars for national and local Veterans serving organizations. Since the inaugural Salute Our Troops campaign in 2011, Kangaroo Express and its guests have raised over $10 million for its cause partners. David was also a 12-year marketing executive with the Coca-Cola Company. He has an MBA from the University of Chicago as well as a BS degree in Chemical Engineering from Ohio State University. He currently resides with his family in Orange County, CA.

Rich

Rich Gross, BG, USA (Ret)

Rich Gross served more than 30 years with the U.S. military as an Infantry Officer and Judge Advocate (military attorney). In the latter half of his career, he served as the legal ...

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Rich

Rich Gross, BG, USA (Ret)

Rich Gross served more than 30 years with the U.S. military as an Infantry Officer and Judge Advocate (military attorney). In the latter half of his career, he served as the legal advisor to several senior three and four-star military leaders. He was the Senior Legal Advisor for the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), NATO-ISAF/USFOR-A, and US Central Command. Before retiring, Rich served his final four years as the Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he worked with senior government and military leaders on the Joint Staff, in the Department of Defense, and throughout the interagency. He has extensive experience with Special Operations, Multinational Operations, Counterterrorism, the Interagency, and National Security Policy. He has numerous military awards and badges, to include the Ranger Tab, Master Parachutist Wings, and the Expert Infantryman Badge. He has multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Rich attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the University of Virginia, School of Law. He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army War College.


Our Staff

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Sarah Verardo

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Sarah and Mike Verardo have become a national face for severely wounded combat Veterans and their Caregivers. They’ve appeared on numerous television programs and news outlets over the past several years to ...

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Sarah Verardo

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Sarah and Mike Verardo have become a national face for severely wounded combat Veterans and their Caregivers. They’ve appeared on numerous television programs and news outlets over the past several years to advocate for Veterans Affairs healthcare reform. Sarah is a national spokesperson for Caregivers in the country, serving as an Alumni Fellow with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation. She has a significant background in both public relations and fundraising, and has dedicated her life to both the care and recovery of her husband, and supporting Caregivers and our wounded heroes nationwide. Sarah is a respected and impactful national voice and has been regularly featured on conservative national programs and talk shows. She has also served as a highly effective advocate for Veterans and Caregivers, working directly with members of the United States House and Senate.

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Tammy Heap, CMDCM(FMF), USN (Ret)

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Tammy Heap, has a passion for service and assisting fellow Veterans and their Families. Tammy grew up in Newton Falls, Ohio; joined the U.S. Navy in January 1985 and retired in March ...

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Tammy Heap, CMDCM(FMF), USN (Ret)

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER

Tammy Heap, has a passion for service and assisting fellow Veterans and their Families. Tammy grew up in Newton Falls, Ohio; joined the U.S. Navy in January 1985 and retired in March 2017. The first two thirds of her career, Tammy served as a Hospital Corpsman and the last third she served as a Command Master Chief. Over the course of her military career she served at Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune; U.S. Naval Hospital Rota, Spain; 2d Medical Battalion, 2d Force Service Support Group; Naval Hospital, Guam; Branch Medical Clinic, Yuma, AZ; II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group; 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit; Marine Aircraft Group 26; 2d Marine Aircraft Wing; 2d Marine Logistics Group; II Marine Expeditionary Force; and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Command. She completed numerous exercises and operations and deployed in support of both, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Tammy served as the Command Master Chief of 2d Marine Aircraft Wing; 2d Marine Logistics Group; II Marine Expeditionary Force and U. S. Marine Corps Forces Command. Her decorations include the Legion of Merit (three awards), the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (five awards), the Navy Achievement Medal (three awards), the Combat Action Ribbon, and various unit and campaign awards.

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Bob Carey, CAPT, USN (Ret)

DIRECTOR OF POLICY & ADVOCACY

Captain Bob “Shoebob” Carey, US Navy (Ret) is Director of Policy & Advocacy for The Independence Fund, running its government relations and field advocacy operations from The Fund’s Washington, DC office. Prior ...

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Bob Carey, CAPT, USN (Ret)

DIRECTOR OF POLICY & ADVOCACY

Captain Bob “Shoebob” Carey, US Navy (Ret) is Director of Policy & Advocacy for The Independence Fund, running its government relations and field advocacy operations from The Fund’s Washington, DC office. Prior to The Independence Fund, Shoebob served as the Director of Military and Veterans Engagement for the Republican National Committee, providing national support for State and campaign committees in reaching military and Veteran voters on the issues most important to them, and in assisting those campaigns and voters in navigating the complex military voting process. Shoebob was previously President of Abraham & Roetzel, LLC, a bipartisan, full-service government affairs and issue management firm, which he joined in May 2012. Prior to Abraham & Roetzel, Shoebob served in the Senior Executive Service as Director of the Department of Defense’s Federal Voting Assistance Program, which helps military and overseas voters exercise their right to vote. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985, Bob was commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy and reported to USS Comte de Grasse (DD 974). After earning his Surface Warfare Officer designation, he reported to Pensacola, FL, earning his Naval Flight Officer wings in 1989. After additional training, he reported to Attack Squadron 85 (“The Bombing Buckeyes”) onboard USS America, flying the A-6E Intruder through two deployments, including 37 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. Shoebob left active duty in 1995 after serving on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. In 1995, Shoebob joined the staff of newly elected Senator Spencer Abraham (R-MI), serving as his Military Legislative Assistant, Senior Legislative Assistant, and Legislative Director. In 2001, Shoebob moved to serve as first Legislative Director to Senator George Allen (R-VA), also assisting the Senator in his roles as Assistant Majority Whip and Chair of the Senate High Tech Task Force. Soon after the 9/11 attacks, Shoebob was mobilized from the Reserves to active duty, again to serve on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations. Upon his demobilization in 2002, he was appointed a Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of Energy, serving as Deputy Chief Financial Officer for the Department’s $14 billion energy, science, and environment programs. In 2004 Shoebob left government service to form Empire-Capitol Strategies, a strategic planning and policy development consulting firm. He also served as Executive Director of the National Defense Committee, establishing the Alliance on Military and Overseas Voting Rights, and consulting the Pew Center on the States’ Military/Overseas Voting Initiative. Shoebob served as an instructor at the United States Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval War College, and served six times as Commanding Officer of various U.S. Navy Reserve units. His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Air Medal (two individual awards with Combat “V”, and two Strike/Flight awards), Navy Commendation Medal (four awards, two with Combat “V”), the Navy Achievement Medal, as well as numerous unit commendations and service medals. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the Naval War College, and studied at the London School of Economics and Political Science, Georgetown University, the Center for Financial Management Studies at the University of London, and the Keenan-Flagler School of Business at University of North Carolina. The origin of his call sign “Shoebob” is still unknown.

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Carrie Stead

DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS

Carrie Stead is the wife and Caregiver to her husband, Adam Stead, who was an Army helicopter pilot. Adam was severely injured when he was shot in the head while flying a ...

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Carrie Stead

DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS

Carrie Stead is the wife and Caregiver to her husband, Adam Stead, who was an Army helicopter pilot. Adam was severely injured when he was shot in the head while flying a patrol on deployment in Afghanistan in 2009.

Carrie Stead has a Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy from The Medical College of Georgia and has worked as a pediatric physical therapist for children with special needs for the past 15 years. She oversees all Independence Fund programs. The couple live in Charlotte, and have two young boys, Cohen (8) and Eli (3). Fun Fact: Carrie is an avid Georgia Bulldogs fan!

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Nick Kaylor, U.S. Navy Veteran

Director of Communications

Nick Kaylor is a seven-year Veteran of the U.S. Navy, where he served as a Journalist, Mass Communication Specialist, and Public Affairs Officer. He deployed twice in support of both Operation Iraqi ...

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Nick Kaylor, U.S. Navy Veteran

Director of Communications

Nick Kaylor is a seven-year Veteran of the U.S. Navy, where he served as a Journalist, Mass Communication Specialist, and Public Affairs Officer. He deployed twice in support of both Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom while stationed onboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65). In his last duty station, he handled all events and media involvement for a five-state region of Navy Recruiting, headquartered in Philadelphia, PA. After leaving the Navy, Nick dedicated himself to the nonprofit sector. He has his Master's Degree in Philanthropy and Fundraising from Central Michigan University, and has worked on some of the country's largest events. His wife, Marissa, is also a Navy Veteran, and they have three children (four if you include their yellow lab). Fun fact: Nick is a hockey fanatic, and when he is at home, he can often be caught listening to his Philadelphia Flyers radio broadcasts on his phone. He is also an avid patch collector, despite his wife thinking it is a strange hobby, and lives by the phrase family over everything.

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Jessica Marinaccio

DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

Jessica is a New Jersey native and is part of an Air Force family. She received her Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from the University of ...

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Jessica Marinaccio

DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT

Jessica is a New Jersey native and is part of an Air Force family. She received her Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from the University of Scranton. Jessica received post-degree accreditations in Communications from the Polytechnical Institute of St. Petersburg in Russia, and later, Event Planning. Jessica’s professional background includes fundraising, branding and marketing strategy, promotional programming, event and volunteer coordination, as well as both corporate and political campaigning.

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Donald McAlister, CSM, USA (Ret)

COMMUNITY LIAISON

CSM Donald McAlister entered the Army on July 29th 1992 and attended Infantry OUST at Fort Benning, GA. Upon completion, CSM McAlister was assigned to Fort McNair, Washington DC. McAlister’s assignments include ...

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Donald McAlister, CSM, USA (Ret)

COMMUNITY LIAISON

CSM Donald McAlister entered the Army on July 29th 1992 and attended Infantry OUST at Fort Benning, GA. Upon completion, CSM McAlister was assigned to Fort McNair, Washington DC. McAlister’s assignments include Alpha Co Commander in Chiefs Guard, 3RD US Infantry The Old Guard, Fort McNair, Washington DC; 1st BN, 27th Infantry Regiment, Schofield Barracks HI; 2nd BN, 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg NC; 1st BN, 310th Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg NC; 2nd BN, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg NC; 2nd BN, 4th Infantry Regiment, Fort Polk, LA; Operations Sergeant Major for 4th, BDE, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Polk, LA; and most recently Command Sergeant Major for 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, NC. McAlister’s combat tours include: two tours in Iraq (OIF I and OIF II/III), three tours in Afghanistan (OEF VIII, OEF IX/X, and OEF XIII). McAlister has served in every leadership position to include Team Leader, Squad Leader, Airborne Infantry Platoon Sergeant, Airborne Infantry First Sergeant, Operations Sergeant Major and Command Sergeant Major. McAlister’s military education includes the Primary Leadership Development Course, Basic NCO Course, Advance NCO Course, First Sergeants Course, the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy, Airborne School, Jump Master School, and Air Assault School. His awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (1OLC), Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal (3OLC), Army Commendation Medal (1SOLC), Army Achievement Medal (3OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal (7th AWD), National Defense Service Medal (1BSS), Presidential Unit Commendation, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Valorous Unit Award, Army Superior Unit Award, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Afghan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon (Numeral 4), Overseas Service Ribbon (Numeral 3), NATO Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, and the Parachutist Badge. After twenty-four plus years of service McAlister retired from active duty on 01 March 2017.

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Bobby Carrasquillo, U.S. Army Veteran

OPERATIONS MANAGER

Bobby Carrasquillo is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. Motivated by the events on 9/11, he enlisted in the Army in November of 2001 as a combat medic and was assigned to the ...

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Bobby Carrasquillo, U.S. Army Veteran

OPERATIONS MANAGER

Bobby Carrasquillo is originally from New Orleans, Louisiana. Motivated by the events on 9/11, he enlisted in the Army in November of 2001 as a combat medic and was assigned to the 2/325th Airborne Infantry Regiment with the 82nd Airborne Division. He is a Purple Heart Recipient and served two tours in Iraq during his time with the 82nd (OIF 1 – OIF3). After his enlistment, he returned to Iraq for four years as a contractor with KBR and managed MWR facilities at various bases across the country until the drawdown in 2011. Upon leaving Iraq, he dedicated another year of service overseas as a duty manager with the USO in Bagram, Afghanistan. Bobby is honored to once again be helping military service members and Veterans with The Independence Fund.

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Stephanie Tharin

DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATE

Stephanie is a transplant from Hilton Head Island, SC and moved to the Queen City three years ago. Previously, Stephanie served as a Veterinarian Technician before joining The Independence Fund team in ...

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Stephanie Tharin

DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATE

Stephanie is a transplant from Hilton Head Island, SC and moved to the Queen City three years ago. Previously, Stephanie served as a Veterinarian Technician before joining The Independence Fund team in September. Raised in a family of Veterans, Stephanie has always been passionate about our country’s heroes. Stephanie has two rescue pitbulls, Drake and Sway, who always keep things entertaining! She enjoys kickboxing and kayaking.

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Mary Ramos, Ph.D., RN-BC

VETERANS SERVICE OFFICER

Mary Ramos, Ph.D., RN-BC, CPHQ, CPHM, CMAC, CCM serves as the Veterans Service Officer for The Independence Fund. She brings extensive experience in case management and quality within civilian, military, and Veterans ...

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Mary Ramos, Ph.D., RN-BC

VETERANS SERVICE OFFICER

Mary Ramos, Ph.D., RN-BC, CPHQ, CPHM, CMAC, CCM serves as the Veterans Service Officer for The Independence Fund. She brings extensive experience in case management and quality within civilian, military, and Veterans Affairs (VA) systems of care as well as clinical experience in adult intensive care, adult acute care, psychiatric nursing, pediatrics, and pediatric hematology/oncology. In her position as a Federal Recovery Coordinator within the VA Central Office (2008-2014), she worked directly with Veterans and their families in resolving barriers to care and benefits as well as transition management for the most seriously wounded, ill, and injured service members. Previously, she served at Army Medical Command as a civilian subject matter expert and consultant in case management. She also served as a coordinator for the development and implementation of DoD/VA clinical practice guidelines. Dr. Ramos received her initial nursing education at Bronson Methodist Hospital in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She holds her Master’s Degrees in Community Psychology (Lamar University) and Psychiatric Nursing (University of Virginia) as well as a Ph.D. in nursing from the University of Virginia.

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Daniel Martin, CPL, USA (Ret)

PROGRAMS COORDINATOR

Daniel Martin has a passion for serving our nation’s greatest heroes. Before joining The Independence Fund team, Daniel joined the U. S. Army and served as an Airborne Infantryman, 2-508PIR, 82nd Airborne ...

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Daniel Martin, CPL, USA (Ret)

PROGRAMS COORDINATOR

Daniel Martin has a passion for serving our nation’s greatest heroes. Before joining The Independence Fund team, Daniel joined the U. S. Army and served as an Airborne Infantryman, 2-508PIR, 82nd Airborne Division. Daniel was wounded in Afghanistan in February 2010. After Daniel's injury, he worked at a company alongside Ambassador Michael Verardo. Daniel had previously heard about The Independence Fund through social media, but it was Michael who helped move him in the direction of joining the team. He took a position at The Independence Fund because he wanted to give back to his fellow servicemen and women, but especially to our nation’s severely wounded Veterans. "It’s something I hold dear to my heart,” says Daniel.

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Mary-Margaret Murray

CAREGIVER COORDINATOR

Bio Coming Soon!

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Mary-Margaret Murray

CAREGIVER COORDINATOR

Bio Coming Soon!

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Kathy Sedon

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Kathy Sedon, has a passion for helping others and giving back to the community. Kathy has great respect for all Veterans and feels it is an honor to work at The Independence ...

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Kathy Sedon

ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT

Kathy Sedon, has a passion for helping others and giving back to the community. Kathy has great respect for all Veterans and feels it is an honor to work at The Independence Fund. Kathy grew up in Canton, Ohio and moved to Charlotte in 2003. Over the course of Kathy’s career, she has worked in the banking, legal, and education industries and started and operated her own health food business. Kathy enjoys time volunteering at the Brace YMCA and Christ Covenant Church both in Matthews, NC. In October 2016, Kathy was selected as the John 17:21 Tribute Honoree for the Brace YMCA. The John 17:21 Tribute honors individuals who are living out the YMCA’s Christian mission. Kathy lives with her husband of 32 years, their two children, and their two yellow labs. Kathy enjoys walking, working out at the gym, and participating in book clubs.

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Michael Verardo, SGT, USA (Ret)

CHIEF AMBASSADOR

Sarah and Mike Verardo have become a national face for severely wounded combat Veterans and their Caregivers. They've appeared on a wide array of television programs and news outlets over the past ...

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Michael Verardo, SGT, USA (Ret)

CHIEF AMBASSADOR

Sarah and Mike Verardo have become a national face for severely wounded combat Veterans and their Caregivers. They've appeared on a wide array of television programs and news outlets over the past several years to advocate for Veterans Affairs healthcare reform. Mike served in the 82nd Airborne Division as an infantryman and lost his leg, much of his arm, and sustained serious damage and burns to his entire body after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2010. His long journey home from war has included over 100 surgeries and years of physical, occupational, and speech therapies.

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