Alumni – The Citadel Today Mon, 28 Jun 2021 21:02:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Alumni – The Citadel Today 32 32 144096890 Spokesman for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, NATO Resolute Support to join The Citadel as Vice President for Communications and Marketing Mon, 28 Jun 2021 21:01:59 +0000 It is exciting to welcome Col. Sonny Leggett to The Citadel’s leadership team as Vice President for Communications and Marketing.]]>

The communications strategist working on behalf of the United States and more than 50 countries will join his alma matter as vice president for Communications and Marketing. Col. William (Sonny) Leggett, USA, Citadel Class of 1996, will join the college after he retires from 25 years of military service later this summer.

Currently, Leggett is the director of strategic communications for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the NATO Resolute Support Mission, Afghanistan. In the position since 2019, Leggett synchronizes all communications, communications assets and capabilities across the theater while serving as principal advisor to the operational commander. He also serves as theater spokesperson engaging 1.9 million people daily across the social media platforms in support of campaign objectives.

“It is exciting to welcome Col. Sonny Leggett to The Citadel’s leadership team,” said The Citadel President, Gen. Glenn M. Walters, USMC (Ret). “His experiences and accomplishments as a strategic communicator in numerous high-level positions for the United States Armed Forces will greatly benefit our mission to educate and develop principled leaders.”

Before his deployment to Afghanistan, Leggett served as director of strategic communications for the National Security Council for three years. In that role he provided direct counsel to the President of the United States on efforts to counter terrorist and state-actor communications. Leggett also led the White House engagements with Silicon Valley enterprises, informing tech companies on how their platforms were being exploited by terrorists, including ISIS.

From 2009-2014, Leggett was the principal public affairs advisor to the Commander of Joint Special Operations Command. There he developed comprehensive, inter-agency strategic communications plans in support of military operations producing global interest and directly impacting U.S. Foreign Policy.

Earlier in his Army career, Leggett was the director of public affairs for Joint Special Operations Task Force, Afghanistan, and for the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. He also served in The Citadel Army ROTC detachment as a recruiting officer, an assistant professor of military science and an active-duty cadet company tactical officer.

Leggett earned a B.A. in Political Science from The Citadel, an M.A. in Public Relations/Corporate Communications from Georgetown University and an M.S. in National Security Strategy with a concentration in Emerging Technologies from the National War College. Additionally, he completed U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, as well as the Defense Information School’s Public Affairs Officers Course.

Leggett replaces Col. John Dorrian, ’90, who left the college in May after accepting a position with Lockheed Martin.

Col. William (Sonny) Leggett, USA, Citadel Class of 1996, to join The Citadel as Vice President of Marketing and Communications
The Citadel to upgrade scoreboard, video at Johnson Hagood Stadium Thu, 24 Jun 2021 12:36:08 +0000 A rendering of the new scoreboard at The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium. ProvidedA rendering of the new scoreboard at The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium. ProvidedThe gift from Bill Varner (Class of 1973) will pay for a new system.]]> A rendering of the new scoreboard at The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium. ProvidedA rendering of the new scoreboard at The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium. Provided

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Jeff Hartsell

Photo above: A rendering of the new scoreboard at The Citadel’s Johnson Hagood Stadium.

A gift of $1.2 million from a graduate of The Citadel will fund an upgrade of the scoreboard and video board at Johnson Hagood Stadium, the school announced June 23.

The gift from Bill Varner (Class of 1973) will pay for a new system with six LED displays and a new audio system from Daktronics to replace the aging scoreboard at the football stadium.

The donation is part of the Class of 1973′s 50th reunion campaign, and the class also aims to create an endowment of $300,000 to maintain the system. The new board will be known as the “Class of 1973 Scoreboard.”

“The Citadel is looking forward to working with Daktronics on this very exciting project,” said Mike Capaccio, director of athletics for The Citadel. “This is the next step in our stadium enhancement project at Johnson Hagood Stadium and will provide our fans a great experience with the newest technology available for a video board.”

The new board will be in place for the 2021 season, with a center video display measuring 26½ feet high by 51½ feet wide, with four side displays measuring 15½ feet by 13 feet. An auxiliary display measures about 7 feet by 18 feet. The six displays feature 15HD pixel layouts for enhanced clarity and contrast, the school said.

A Sportsound 2000 audio system will be integrated into the video and scoring system, providing “full-range sound reproduction” and “clear and intelligible speech for an exceptional listening experience for those in the stadium.”

The main video display and auxiliary display are capable of “variable content zoning,” allowing each display to show one large image or multiple zoned images including any combination of live video, instant replays, up-to-the-minute statistics, graphics and animations, and sponsorship messages.

Daktronics will also be including its “Show Control” solution with the installation. It provides a combination of display control software, video processing, data integration and playback hardware to form a user-friendly production solution.

The Class of 1973 is aiming toward a $7.3 million fundraising goal for its 50th reunion, the highest goal ever for a 50th reunion campaign, according to Jonathan Walker of The Citadel Foundation.

The Citadel’s home opener is set for Sept. 11 against Charleston Southern, and the Bulldogs will have six home games in 2021. 

Lt. Col Kenneth Reed, Citadel Class of 2004, takes command of the California Medical Detachment Wed, 23 Jun 2021 15:59:15 +0000 Madigan Army Medical Center Acting Commander Col. Scott Roofe hands the colors of the California Medical Detachment to Lt. Col. Kenneth Reed in a change of command ceremony held on Soldier Field on the Presidio of Monterey, Calif., on June 18. Madigan has most of its clinics in the Pacific Northwest, with its main hospital on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash. CAL MED falls under its command. (Kirstin Grace-Simons)Madigan Army Medical Center Acting Commander Col. Scott Roofe hands the colors of the California Medical Detachment to Lt. Col. Kenneth Reed in a change of command ceremony held on Soldier Field on the Presidio of Monterey, Calif., on June 18. Madigan has most of its clinics in the Pacific Northwest, with its main hospital on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash. CAL MED falls under its command. (Kirstin Grace-Simons)"Reed has been deeply involved in the Army Medicine response to COVID..."]]> Madigan Army Medical Center Acting Commander Col. Scott Roofe hands the colors of the California Medical Detachment to Lt. Col. Kenneth Reed in a change of command ceremony held on Soldier Field on the Presidio of Monterey, Calif., on June 18. Madigan has most of its clinics in the Pacific Northwest, with its main hospital on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash. CAL MED falls under its command. (Kirstin Grace-Simons)Madigan Army Medical Center Acting Commander Col. Scott Roofe hands the colors of the California Medical Detachment to Lt. Col. Kenneth Reed in a change of command ceremony held on Soldier Field on the Presidio of Monterey, Calif., on June 18. Madigan has most of its clinics in the Pacific Northwest, with its main hospital on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash. CAL MED falls under its command. (Kirstin Grace-Simons)

Change of command ceremony doesn’t take a holiday at CAL MED

As seen on, by  Kirstin Grace-Simons

Photo above: Madigan Army Medical Center Acting Commander Col. Scott Roofe hands the colors of the California Medical Detachment to Lt. Col. Kenneth Reed in a change of command ceremony held on Soldier Field on the Presidio of Monterey, Calif., on June 18. Madigan has most of its clinics in the Pacific Northwest, with its main hospital on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Tacoma, Wash. CAL MED falls under its command. (Kirstin Grace-Simons)

MADIGAN ARMY MEDICAL CENTER, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. – It is unusual to see a change of command ceremony take place on a federal holiday. The California Medical Detachment took the opportunity to acknowledge the new holiday, Juneteenth, and merely add to the celebration as Lt. Col. Kenneth Reed took command of CAL MED from Col. Zack Solomon in a ceremony on Soldier Field on the Presidio of Monterey, Calif., on June 18.

“Thank you for being here on this very first observance of Juneteenth as a national holiday; it aligns with our values- supporting freedom,” said Col. Scott Roofe, Madigan Army Medical Center’s acting commander who traveled down to preside over the ceremony. CAL MED falls under Madigan’s command.

COL Roofe

Typically, CAL MED’s civilians would add a formation on the field for such an occasion. But, given the holiday, those in attendance were audience members.

CAL MED is more than the clinic on the sunny hill at the Presidio of Monterey. It is so much more. It encompasses Naval Support Activity Monterey, as well as five other army installations spread across approximately 250 miles providing behavioral health, industrial hygiene, and environmental and occupational health services. One of its outposts is the Major General William H. Gourley VA-DoD Outpatient Clinic, which houses CAL MED’s pediatrics and family medicine clinics. It is only the second fully integrated VA-DoD facility in the nation. Solomon took command on the same field in June of 2019.

Roofe enumerated just a few of Solomon’s many command highlights.

“He led the team to successfully and safely implement the DoD’s new electronic health record, MHS GENESIS. I see some knowing nods out there. And not only did they do a great job here, the team with Col. Solomon navigating it expertly and flawlessly, but the work they did here has served as a template for all the other like-sized clinics throughout the enterprise,” shared Roofe. “As evidence of his genuine commitment to quality and safety, he led CAL MED to a very successful Joint Commission survey with the lowest number of findings in the history of this clinic’s existence, phenomenal work.”

Solomon’s healthy ability to build relationships was commented on by Roofe and Reed and his affable nature welcomes people with a smile and good humor.


“My wife was worried about parking today, I made some calls. So, it’s not an issue. Cleared the installation for this,” Solomon joked, starting his remarks with a nod to how quiet the installation was on the new holiday.

His humor continued as he pondered what his speech would consist of had the COVID-19 pandemic not intruded on everyone’s plans for the past year and a half.

He noted how such an alternate universe would have seen the transition to MHS GENESIS as the big story of his command and he and his family would have enjoyed attending all the festivals and events the Monterey area typically has to offer.

“But we don’t live in an alternate universe; we live in the now. The past year and a half was one that we could never have anticipated- a complete lockdown, confusion and fear worldwide. There was so much uncertainty. But when we needed them most, heroes revealed themselves. From the beginning of the COVID pandemic, our CAL MED team sprang into action. Our mission changed in epic fashion; failure was not an option,” said Solomon. “CAL MED, when I say you’re heroes, I mean it quite literally. I could spend the rest of the day speaking about each of you individually and how you poured your hearts and souls into this organization, and most importantly, the service members and families in your care. I will be forever grateful for having served alongside you. To say I’m proud of all of you is an understatement.”

Reed has been deeply involved in the Army Medicine response to COVID as well as he has worked in U.S. Army Forces Command. He also comes to CAL MED with significant operational experience with the 44th Medical Brigade and the 28th Combat Support Hospital, both headquartered in Fort Bragg, N.C., prior to that.

“His work at FORSCOM (U.S. Army Forces Command) operations has been broadly impactful and instrumental in coordinating the UA MTF (urban augmentation medical task force) and the vaccine augmentation medical task force deployment since COVID started. So, [he] really has been on the frontlines of COVID coordinating across the nation and across the world,” said Roofe.


Reed is from Port Norris, N.J. He commissioned in the Medical Service Corps through the ROTC program at The Citadel, Military College of South Carolina. He earned a master’s degree in business and organizational security management. He has deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and is a member of the Official Order of Military Medical Merit.

With such a hearty resume behind him, Reed nevertheless leads with gratitude, noting the impacts of others on his professional successes.

“A special thank you to a friend and Army pentathlete who is here from JBLM- Lt. Col. Mike Moore. He was my commander when I was a young second lieutenant in Iraq. And Mike, I know it didn’t seem like it at the time, but you had a major impact on my career during that difficult deployment. It’s leaders like yourself, and many others throughout my career, that professionally developed a young officer who needed some purpose and direction. And I know the Army appreciates the 39 years of service you’ve given to the nation,” Reed said.

Noting the size of the shoes he is now charged with filling, Reed recognized the respect with which POM installation leaders view Solomon, seeing following him as a distinct challenge.

“Sustaining those relationships and lines of communication you’ve built is one of the most important things I can do to help CAL MED continue and excel in supporting the readiness and the health of the force and families here at the Presidio of Monterey,” Reed said.

Reed with troops

Reed also relished the prospect of leading the CAL MED team.

“To the families, Soldiers, civilians and staff for the California Medical Detachment, it is an honor and a privilege to be your commander. I’m excited to lead and learn from all of you, and I look forward to our time together,” he said.

The assembled audience retreated from the sun to a reception welcoming the Reed family and the remainder of the new holiday.


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Citadel begins demolishing historic Capers Hall and will construct a new academic building Fri, 18 Jun 2021 10:00:00 +0000 Demolition begins on The Citadel’s Capers Hall on June 8, 2021. Lauren Petracca/StaffDemolition begins on The Citadel’s Capers Hall on June 8, 2021. Lauren Petracca/StaffPhoto above: Demolition begins on The Citadel’s Capers Hall on June 8, 2021. Lauren Petracca/Staff As seen in The Post and Courier, by Thomas Novelly The Citadel started demolishing its]]> Demolition begins on The Citadel’s Capers Hall on June 8, 2021. Lauren Petracca/StaffDemolition begins on The Citadel’s Capers Hall on June 8, 2021. Lauren Petracca/Staff

Photo above: Demolition begins on The Citadel’s Capers Hall on June 8, 2021. Lauren Petracca/Staff

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Thomas Novelly

The Citadel started demolishing its largest and most historic academic buildings on campus to make space for a new, updated space to be used by cadets in 2023.

Capers Hall was built in 1949 and has housed classrooms and offices for the English, history and political science departments for generations of Citadel students. But on June 8, a demolition crane began to poke holes in the walls and rip plaster from the fortress-like white building, slowly removing it from campus one chunk at a time. 

Demolition will continue through the summer.

Citadel officials plan to build a 107,700-square-foot replacement in two years which will house classrooms, a 250-seat performing arts auditorium, an art gallery and a computer lab for the school’s Center for Cyber, Intelligence and Security Studies.

The project carries a $67 million price tag. About $15 million of that will be provided by the S.C. General Assembly, with the rest coming from state institution bonds and capital reserve funds. The Legislature also had to approve the renovation. The Citadel Foundation is also soliciting donations to offset some of the construction costs. 

Jeff Lamberson, vice president for The Citadel’s Office of Facilities and Engineering, said the seven- decade-old academic building lacked a lot of modern amenities needed for students and teachers. While he’s sad to see some of the campus history disappear, he said he’s eager for the school to provide more modern space.

“The classrooms will be much bigger and more flexible in nature,” Lamberson said. “You will be able to move around the furniture and you’ll have all types of audio and visual computer aids for students.”

Some historic elements from the old version will be repurposed for the new building. 

Concrete, masonry and stucco from demolition will be hauled off-site, crushed and recycled into the new building’s site foundation and parking area. And the distinctive iron-frame light fixtures will be used in the new offering. 

The Citadel originally sought approval from the state to do extensive renovations at Capers Hall but opted for a total rebuild after conducting a structural evaluation in 2014. Rather than spend an estimated $7 million to $8 million reinforcing those walls to meet modern international building codes, the school decided to start from scratch.

The construction of a new academic space puts a slight burden on faculty members for the upcoming school year.

Employees with Thompson Turner Construction and The Citadel watch as demolition begins on Capers Hall on June 8, 2021. Lauren Petracca/StaffLauren Petracca

Brian Jones, dean for The Citadel’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences, said some classrooms will relocate to the library, other campus buildings and even mobile trailers while the renovation is taking place.

“We’ve already transitioned the faculty, and they’re already up and running in their new spaces,” Jones said.

Capers Hall was named for two brothers, Confederate Brig. Gen. Ellison Capers and Maj. Francis W. Capers, who was superintendent of The Citadel from 1853 to 1859.

The demolition comes amid a nationwide reckoning of Confederate imagery in public spaces and in the U.S. military. Retired Marine Corps Gen. Glenn M. Walters, president of The Citadel, said in a memo last year he was “establishing a committee to further study historical figures for whom structures are named.” 

The committee’s progress on researching and identifying buildings was sidelined by COVID-19, but they will resume their duties in the fall.

Presently, there are no plans to change the name of the hall when it is rebuilt. 

Charleston County School District appoints new Academic Magnet principal Mon, 14 Jun 2021 10:00:00 +0000 Jacob Perlmutter, the new principal for Academic Magnet, earned a Master's of Education degree through The Citadel Graduate College in 2009.]]>

Note: Jacob Perlmutter, photo above, earned a Master’s of Education degree from The Citadel in 2009. The college recently asked him to reflect on the value of education from The Citadel Graduate College.

In my studies in the graduate program at The Citadel’s Zucker Family School of Education, I learned about school law, educational policy and project management, but I was really learning about character, about conviction and about integrity. The school has a reputation for leadership but for me, those late night classes in Capers Hall were all about service…about finding a way to make a meaningful contribution to the world.

Jacob Perlmutter, The Citadel Graduate College Class of 2009

As seen in The Post and Courier, by Libby Stanford

Academic Magnet High School will be under the leadership of Jacob Perlmutter, starting July 1. 

The Charleston County School District announced Perlmutter as the new principal on June 3. Perlmutter is taking over the position from Catherine Spencer, who is leaving the school to open an international school in Cairo, Egypt. 

Perlmutter is no stranger to the district or Academic Magnet. He graduated from the high school in 1995 before going on to study at the College of Charleston, Fordham University and The Citadel. 

Most recently, he worked as the principal of Jerry Zucker Middle School in North Charleston, a position he has held since 2011.

In Perlmutter’s time as principal, the school was awarded four consecutive National Showcase School Awards from Capturing Kids Hearts, a program that helps schools improve social and emotional learning and culture. 

The middle school was recognized for having outstanding focus on social-emotional well-being, relationship-driven campus culture and student connectedness, according to a news release.  

The principal also teaches as an adjunct professor in the school of education, health and human performance at the College of Charleston. 

Before returning to Charleston to teach, Perlmutter taught at Harry S. Truman High School in New York City. In all, he has taught students from sixth grade to graduate school, according to the news release. 

Perlmutter will be entering Academic Magnet after the school experienced four years of success under Spencer’s leadership. In 2020 and 2021, the school placed second in the U.S. World News and Report’s ranking of high schools across the nation. In 2019, it placed first. 

In 2021, the school produced 16 of the district’s 21 National Merit Scholars, who competed against students across the country to receive college scholarships. One of those scholars, Lily Lassiter, was also awarded the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholarship.

Lassiter was one of 14 students from the school to be a semifinalist for the scholarship program, which is only awarded to one male and one female student in each state. She is also the second student from the school to receive the distinction in the past four years.

In the news release, Joseph Williams, the district’s associate superintendent of secondary learning, said the district chose Perlmutter because of his experience as a former student of the school and as “his natural ability to build community.”

Great careers, graduate college and more; it’s straight to business for members of the Class of 2021 Fri, 11 Jun 2021 10:00:00 +0000 This year, approximately 150 cadets, 40 college transfer students and 90 graduate students earned a degree through the BSB.]]>

There are thousands of ways a graduate can use a business degree to help improve their local and global communities.

Now, thanks to the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business, there are hundreds of leaders in the field doing just that.

This year, approximately 150 cadets, 40 college transfer students and 90 graduate students earned a degree through the BSB.

Business degrees are some of the most popular at The Citadel, offering graduates flexible career paths through the three departments and associated pathways: Accounting and FinanceManagement and Entrepreneurship; and Marketing, Supply Chain Management and Economics.

The Class of 2021 also has the unique distinction of being the first to graduate after the opening of Bastin Hall, the new home for the BSB.

Take a look at just some of the outstanding outcomes achieved by members of this year’s graduating class:

Cadet Patrick Kress, earning the rewards of his investment
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration

(left to right) Grandmother Marjorie Smith, father Adrian Kress (’89), Patrick Kress (’21) and grandfather James Dawson Smith Jr. (’59)

In keeping with his business mindset, Patrick Kress’s decision to join the South Carolina Corps of Cadets came down to two things: investment and inheritance.

Kress comes from a long line of alumni. His father, Adrian Kress, ’89, grandfather, James Dawson Smith Jr., ’59, and great grandfather, James Dawson Smith Sr., ’34, are all members of the Long Gray Line.

“Besides my family legacy, I knew that I would grow more at The Citadel and that it would be a good long-term investment,” said Kress. “Looking back and visiting my friends at other colleges, I never doubted my decision. I also know now how much more I have achieved due to attending a place that pushes you to be your best.”

Kress, who served as the Fifth Battalion Commander his senior year, now serves as a marketing representative at Federated Insurance, one of the country’s largest mutual insurance companies. In his new role, he will help clients with property, casualty and life insurance — all while working to grow his territory by adding quality customers.

“Challenging yourself will only help your future self, doing things that are comfortable will only make you stagnant,” said Kress.

Cadet Brett Martin, interning and getting ready to master finance
Bachelor of Science in Finance, minor in Economics

Brett Martin just outside of Lesesne Gateway on The Citadel campus.

Brett Martin was in high school when he first felt pulled to The Citadel. That’s where his mentor, an alumnus, helped him see the benefits of an education from the Military College of South Carolina — especially how the challenging environment provided more than just a degree.

“The Citadel doesn’t just give you a handful of useful tools — it transforms you, and alumni become the embodiment of what makes the institution what it is,” said Martin. “The Citadel does not make superstars, it makes men and women who are willing and able to do one more than everyone else and, overtime, consistency exponentially grows success.”

For Martin, the transformation meant realizing that his passion was not to work in law but, instead, finance. Now, having earned four year’s worth of skills, both in and out of The Citadel classrooms, Martin has been accepted into Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, a consistently top-ranked business school in the nation.

Throughout the summer, he will intern as a high Yield Summer Analyst with Barings Global Investment Management in Charlotte, NC.

“The Citadel provides a unique college experience that holds value within every future career path,” said Martin. “A strong foundation of discipline, time management and leadership are great prerequisites for success and can place you ahead of your peers within the job market.”

Ashley Bowers, in the business of keeping women healthy
Master of Business Administration

Ashley Bowers on The Citadel campus

Ashley Bowers wanted her MBA to help keep women in her community healthy.

Bowers is the practice administrator at The Breast Place, a local, Charleston company that provides for women facing life’s challenges. As administrator, she manages the company’s financials, as well as human resources, marketing, compliance, credentialing and day-to-day operations; another goal Bowers has is to bring in more providers and create a bigger team.

“I specifically decided to get my MBA to help me run this practice more efficiently so that we are able to provide a better and more cost-effective service to our patients. A medical practice is very much a business — we are not owned by a corporation that sets our budgets, pays for our overhead or handles our HR policies, so gaining this knowledge has really helped me and this company perform better.”

A large factor in helping Bowers, a working mom, get her education and help improve The Breast Place was the option to earn her degree online.

“Having the ability to attend classes online while still having a local presence if I ever needed to reach out for help was great,” she said. “The flexibility of the online platform gave me the opportunity to still run my business, care for my family and expand my education at the same time.”

Since becoming administrator, she says the practice moved to a larger office, added an aesthetic line of service,. upgraded their electronic medical records system, changed protocols for scheduling patient appointments and surgeries, hired two additional midlevel providers and more.

To learn more about the programs offered through the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business, click here or email

Valor & Value: Veterans talk about their business traits Thu, 10 Jun 2021 10:00:00 +0000 Brown attended The Citadel on an Army ROTC scholarship. He was an Army captain for six years and served in Special Forces as a Green Beret.]]>

Note: Dave Brown, photo above, earned a degree in Civil Engineering from The Citadel in 1996. The college recently asked him to reflect on the value of his education from the Military College of South Carolina.

“The Citadel prepared me very well by instilling leadership skills and a solid understanding of how to build a ‘team first’ culture. The organizational leadership skills I learned as a cadet at The Citadel have significantly contributed to my ability to lead both military and civilian organizations through challenging times.”

Dave Brown, Citadel Class of 1996, founder and CEO of ROVE

As seen in the Charlotte Business Journal

After a year of dynamic changes in the workplace and marketplace, hiring managers are looking for employees ready to react and respond.

Veterans are likely to lead the pack in understanding how to gain situational awareness and flex to the situation.

“Sometimes you just have to work out of your Humvee,” says Bernie Funck, president and founder of Ranger Construction. “Veterans are not scared to exit the moving aircraft,” Funck says. “They are not afraid of change. They just adapt to the situation. And they can command from anywhere.”

Funck spent 21 years in the Army as an artillery officer, 6 years active duty and 15 in the National Guard, and he values the leadership and decision-making skills he sees in the veterans he hires.

Funck made his comments as part of a panel discussion sponsored by Veterans Bridge Home and presented by the Charlotte Business Journal. Joining Funck on the panel discussion veterans in the workplace were Dave Brown, Founder and CEO of ROVE, a technology systems integrator, and Arnold Evans, enterprise ethics officer for Truist Financial.

Blake Bourne, executive director of Veterans Bridge Home and a former captain in the US Army, moderated the event. The discussion was held at Veterans Bridge Home’s new office at 5260 Parkway Plaza Boulevard, near the South Charlotte VA Center. The new location offers more space for the transition center, training and operations.

On joining and exiting the military

A family history of military service was common among the panelists.

Funck’s grandfather served in World War I and his father in World War II. While they were both Navy veterans, Funck joined the Army after joining ROTC in college. His service included a tour in South Korea/DMZ, the 82nd Airborne Division and command of a Field Artillery Battalion. Today he is a Lt. Colonel in the Inactive Ready Reserve.

Evans grew up in north Georgia and then attended West Point, where he hoped to continue his family’s strong military legacy and distinguish himself by serving others. Evans was on active duty from 1988 to 1993, serving in Air Defense Artillery and earning the rank of Captain. His service took him to El Paso, Texas, Germany and Saudi Arabia. After his service, Evans attended both law and business schools at the University of Virginia before pursuing a career in investment banking. He has been with SunTrust – now Truist – since 2005 and serves as the bank’s enterprise ethics officer.

Brown is a fifth generation military officer who knew from a young age that he would serve in the military. Brown attended The Citadel on an Army ROTC scholarship. He was an Army captain for six years, served in Special Forces as a Green Beret. Brown transitioned into the civilian marketplace selling technology on Wall Street. He started ROVE, a systems integrator, in 2016.

On what experience translates to business

While all the panelists have college degrees, their path from college to the military to business was not direct. Brown majored in engineering but leads a technology company. Evans majored in engineering and then earned multiple graduate degrees before entering finance. And Funck majored in communications and later an MBA when he left active duty.

“Basic organizational leadership skills are really what helped me transition fairly well into the civilian workforce,” Brown says. He was initially in sales and business development so while he did not have people working for him, he had to be able to craft campaigns and lead people through the sales process. He eventually moved up into sales leadership roles and executive management roles.

“I look back to my time in the military, and I’ve applied the basic leadership skills that I learned as a brand new Lieutenant in Army, to the more strategic skills I honed as a Special Forces Captain, that have assisted me in founding, growing and thriving in entrepreneurial business endeavors.” said Brown.

Funck says his role in artillery direct support meant he was always supporting others, and that experience providing support taught him how to serve customers.

“We work for developers and do everything from construction, mechanical, electrical and plumbing. It’s shoot, move, communicate and survive,” Funck says. “We still do those same things.”

As the ethics officer for Truist, Evans focuses on ensuring that the bank’s operating practices and processes are fully aligned with the company’s purpose to inspire and build better lives and communities. While it may sound straightforward, converting that description into practical activities has been more complex.

“My newly created role was a bit amorphous when I first took it on at SunTrust,” Evans says. “The most critical success factor has been my ability to shrug off failures, reset based on experience and then guide my team forward until we achieved our objectives. I learned persistence in the Army and believe every successful veteran brings some version of that drive to the table.”

On military skills valued in private sector

Even the disruption of a pandemic didn’t derail veteran employees who understand how to adapt quickly to change, panelist say.

Evans says the skills he gained around situational awareness have also served him well in a large, global corporation.

“You have to understand the facts on the ground, then plan properly and execute,” Evans says. “If the facts change, the sooner you pick up on that, the greater the chance of success. We pick up a high level of attentiveness in the military that helps us execute successfully in the private sector.”

On roles where veterans succeed

At ROVE, 30% of the employees are veterans from different branches of the military, a rate four times what is typical in a company. Some have come directly from military service and others were in the private sector before joining ROVE.

Brown says veterans have the communications skills needed to serve clients. All of ROVE’s project managers are former Army Captains.

Because the business is so heavily veteran, Brown says the culture of the company is very patriotic and mission driven.

“The accountability level for everyone is increased because it is built into our culture now,” Brown says.

At Truist, Evans says veterans are valued for their trustworthiness.

“You know they are going to get it done the right way,” Evans says.

Veterans with technical cyber security skills easily translate those skills to the private sector. Veterans serve in a number of client-facing roles, from retail banking, private wealth, commercial banking and investment banking.

“They are valued because they just know how to get things done,” Evans says.

On negative perceptions of hiring veterans

Evans says he has previously heard that some organizations may have concerns about hiring veterans, given the potential of stress-related disorders.

“As a practical matter, we know suicide rates for veterans are materially higher than for non-veterans, given the amount of trauma they have experienced—whether it’s a result of serving in long-term wars, being separated from families, experiencing isolation, or not having access to health care,” Evans says.

However, Evans also points out that veterans are no different from broad swaths of society that dealt with stress, anxiety and depression—especially during the global pandemic.

“Employers need to understand that while veterans may seem to need unique assistance, they are a microcosm of our broader society,” he continues. “If anyone does deserve the extra assistance, veterans who served our country are an extremely important focus. In exchange, you benefit from extraordinarily loyal and hardworking teammates who are committed to helping you achieve your organization’s objectives.”

On balancing National Guard duty

National Guard duty or Reserves is widely advertised as a commitment of one weekend a month and two weeks a year. Veterans know the reality is a much larger commitment.

“You have to support them and their family,” Funck says. “People don’t realize that the National Guard deploys to hurricanes and floods. You can be gone for three months on a hurricane. In the National Guard, you have to literally keep your bags packed.”

In return, Funck says, those service members have an obligation to minimize the impact of their service on their employer as much as possible.

“There are benefits of having National Guard and Reserve members on your team, and if you don’t support them, they will leave if the job is not compatible with their service,” Funck says.

On small businesses hiring vets

The number of veteran-owned businesses has declined in recent decades. Only 4.5% of veterans have opened businesses since 9/11, according to a study by the New York Federal Reserve Bank and Small Business Administration. But close to 50% of World War II veterans and 40% of Korean War veterans opened businesses.

Brown says being a certified small business by the Department of Veterans Affairs opens opportunity to ROVE. Larger companies with supplier diversity programs provide business opportunities. ROVE has gained relationships with aerospace, banking and manufacturing companies and grown with those sectors.

“As a small business, getting through the pandemic was tough,” Brown says. “We did some pay reductions and headcount reductions and had to tighten the books. But we survived it. Our team is tighter now than ever having gone through this experience together.”

Funck says Ranger Construction survived the pandemic just fine given that construction was allowed to continue. But he says he looks out for subcontractors who are veteran-owned businesses.

“We have been known to loan money or ‘pay forward’ to those that we know, subcontractors and others, trying to get into the business.”


Dave Brown, CEO, ROVE

As CEO of ROVE, Dave guides the company’s vision to become the fastest growing IT Systems Integrator in the region—with specific expertise in helping clients navigate the changing digital landscape via the strategic deployment of Cloud, Networking, CyberSecurity & Hybrid Workplace solutions.  Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, ROVE is a certified Veteran Owned Small Business, and services Enterprise, Commercial and Public Sector clients across the Southeast region.

Prior to founding ROVE, Dave served as the President of CDI Southeast and Area Vice President at EMC Corporation, where his responsibilities included building and leading sales, solution architecture and professional services teams who delivered virtualized cloud, unified communications and security solutions.

Dave began his career as an officer in the United States Army, where he achieved the rank of Captain in Special Forces (Green Berets). David earned his Bachelor of Science in Engineering from The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina.

Bernie Funck, President, Ranger Construction

Bernie Funck is the owner and President of Ranger Construction Company, a commercial general contractor specializing in industrial, office and healthcare upfits in North and South Carolina. Bernie started Ranger Construction 21 years ago and the company has grown to over 40 employees.  Ranger Construction is a trusted partner for many developers and businesses in the area. Bernie’s career began over 30 years ago in commercial property management at Trammell Crow, where he later became a partner running the Charlotte construction division. Starting his career in real estate development, management and leasing gave Bernie a uniquely qualified understanding of the business needs of Ranger’s clients. His background in the Army gave him the sense of mission he and his team bring to all of Ranger’s jobs. In 2003, Bernie retired from the Army National Guard as a Lt. Colonel, having served as the Commander of the 1/113th Field Artillery Battalion. His active duty years included service at the DMZ in South Korea, in the 82d Airborne Division, the Ranger Brigade, and certification as Jump Master and Air Assault training. Bernie has an MBA from the University of North Carolina Charlotte, and an undergraduate degree from Indiana University. He serves on the Board of the Carolinas Freedom Foundation, which promotes patriotism and supports soldiers and veterans.  Bernie has also had leadership roles in the community as a Boy Scout Scoutmaster and a youth football and rugby coach.  

Arnold B. Evans, Executive VP / Enterprise Ethics Officer, Truist Financial Corp.

Arnold Evans is the Enterprise Ethics Officer for Truist Financial Corp. He is responsible for ensuring that Truist’s operating practices and risk culture are consistent with the Company’s Purpose, Mission and Values. To do so, he and his team own and provide oversight of a series of programs receiving heightened regulatory scrutiny, including: business/sales practices, client complaints, teammate concerns, incentive compensation and reputational risk. Prior to the merger, Mr. Evans served as the first Enterprise Ethics Officer for SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Arnold’s prior financial services experience includes three years as a Division and Region President for SunTrust, and 17 years as an investment banker at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey and J.P. Morgan. He is also a former commissioned officer (Captain) in the US Army.

Arnold earned a BS from The United States Military Academy. He also earned both MBA and JD degrees from The University of Virginia.


Blake Bourne, Executive Director, Veterans Bridge Home

Blake Bourne, a former Army Infantry Officer who is passionate about the opportunity to strengthen local communities by engaging and empowering our veterans.  Blake joined Veterans Bridge Home (VBH) in 2013 and was named the Executive Director in 2016.  Leaving at the rank of Captain, he served from 2006-2012, was Airborne and Ranger qualified with two deployments to Iraq.  Prior to his military service, Blake worked on Capitol Hill. In addition to administrative oversight, strategy, and sustainability, Blake has been directly involved with the design and implementation of VBH’s programs.  In 2019 Blake was recognized as one of Charlotte’s 40 Under 40 by the CLT Business Journal.  Founded in 2011, VBH was a small Charlotte based non-profit organization connecting military & veteran families to community-based resources to assist them in achieving their unique goals.  VBH is now a regional leader in Veteran services, operating across NC & SC, and a model nationally of Veteran Community Integration.  Focused on achieving outcomes which build “A Stronger Community, one Veteran at a time.”  VBH has demonstrated impact, leadership and advocacy on how to empower communities to collectively identify, engage and support Veterans where they live, work and play.   

Demolition portion of Capers Hall Replacement Project is underway at The Citadel Tue, 08 Jun 2021 20:10:17 +0000 The demolition portion of The Citadel’s $67 million Capers Hall Replacement Project is officially underway.]]>

Demolition kick-off marks Class of ’21 construction engineering grad’s first day on the job with firm

The demolition portion of The Citadel’s $67 million Capers Hall Replacement Project is underway. The college’s facilities and engineering team, and representatives from the primary contractor, Thompson Turner, gathered to watch as a “pulverizer” began chewing away at the south wall of the 1970s wing.

It is likely that every cadet passing through The Citadel for the last 69 years took classes in Capers Hall, as that is where many of the General Education courses were provided. The 75,116-square-foot building housed The Citadel School of Humanities and Social Sciences, which includes seven departments.

The Dean for the SHSS, Brian Madison Jones, Ph.D., was at the construction site as demolition got underway.

Dr. Brian Madison Jones, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, watches as the first stage of Capers Hall’s demolition takes place at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

“It’s an extraordinary, important and exciting day not just for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, but for all cadets, students, faculty and staff at The Citadel,” said Jones. “Our new facility will be advancing our mission of educating principled leaders in a larger, technology-packed, contemporary building. It will also serve as a resource for the Charleston community.”

The architectural design, provided by Woolpert, will align with the iconic design elements of other campus structures, incorporating both traditional and transitional elements in a three-story, 107,700-square-foot facility.

Some of the new Capers Hall features will include:

  • Modern, flexible classrooms with advanced teaching technology
  • Two Active Learning classrooms
  • Center for Cyber, Intelligence, and Security Studies, with a Secure Work Area, a Cyber Lab and Cyber Range, and a National Security Classroom
  • Center for Inclusive Excellence
  • Center for International and Special Programs
  • 250-seat performing arts auditorium
  • Digital media lab
  • Art studio
  • Art gallery
  • Designated Legal Studies classroom 
  • Psychology lab interview rooms
  • Oral History interview and listening rooms
  • Collaborative work spaces
  • Computer classrooms
Jeff Lamberson, Vice President for The Citadel Department of Facilities and Engineering, oversees the first stage of Capers Hall’s demolition on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

The plan is to reuse, or recycle as many parts of the old building as possible, according to The Citadel Vice President of Facilities and Engineering, Jeff Lamberson.

“We are having the concrete, masonry and stucco material recovered from the demolition, crushed and recycled so that we can use it to build the new site foundation and parking area,” Lamberson said. “The metal from the old facility will also be recycled. There are also some distinctive lights and ironwork features that will be repurposed.”

Some of the benefits to the neighborhood outside of campus include the burying of utility lines and improvements to address road flooding.

The Departments of Criminal Justice; Intelligence and Security Studies; English, Fine Arts, and Communications; History; Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures; Political Science; and Psychology will all be housed in the new building when it is complete in approximately two years.

The South Carolina General Assembly provided $15 million to assist with the replacement project.

First day on the job for a 2021 grad; three other Citadel men also on the project

New Thompson Turner engineer, and Citadel Class of 2021 Construction Engineering graduate, Keegan Sherman, watches as the first stage of Capers Hall’s demolition takes place on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. He will be working on the project with two other Citadel alumni, and a current senior cadet who is interning with the firm.

Keegan Sherman was all smiles as he met with his new Thompson Turner colleagues to watch the beginning of the Capers Hall Replacement Project.

Sherman took a few classes inside the building known for its mid-century “government green” tile stairwells and hallways. The newly graduated engineer didn’t anticipate being a part of the construction firm that would construct the new one.

“This is a very interesting first day at work,” Sherman said.

(Left to right) Keegan Sherman, Class of 2021, and Rhett Garett Class of 2022 watch as the first stage of Capers Hall’s demolition takes place at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina on Tuesday, June 8, 2021.

Sherman stood next to Cadet Everette “Rhett” Garrett, who is doing his second internship with Thompson Turner and will graduate with a Construction Engineering degree in 2022.

Both men will work on the Thompson Turner, Capers Hall Replacement Project team, with two other Citadel alumni, Todd McElveen, ’05, and Jay Rye, ’14.

Citadel boxing is returning to the ring Mon, 07 Jun 2021 14:44:53 +0000 “I would say this is the new beginning of something that began back in the 1940s. Boxing at The Citadel Military College is alive.”]]>

As seen in Charleston Mercury, by Josh Baxa

Dating back to the 1940s, boxing at The Citadel has always been a cherished tradition that has been used to mold cadets into confident soldiers and citizen leaders. Citadel graduate of 1952 and future Carolina Hall of Famer Harry Hitopoulus was one of the first roughneck champions that the school produced, lettering in the sport for three consecutive years during his tenure at The Citadel. After his graduation, he returned to Rutledge Avenue once again — but this time to coach a team that was, at the time, at best mediocre. To give the boys additional training inside the ring, Coach Hitopoulus recruited Michael Golemis as a sparring partner, a local boxing star who fought for the College of Charleston. Golemis was soon invited to coach alongside Hitopoulus on The Citadel team, solidifying a club that would soon climb the ranks of national recognition.

From 1980 to 2007, Coach Hitopoulus and Golemis created an elite program that routinely won tournaments at the Naval Academy, The University of Kentucky, UNLV, Shippensburg and VMI among many other universities. After Coach Hitopoulus’ passing in 2007, Coach Golemis continued the club’s legacy producing three All Americans — Sam Greenwood, Ronal Clifton and Israel Cordova — until the sport was defunded in 2009 by the school’s sporting administration, citing health reasons. Twelve years later, in the spring semester of 2021, the sport was reintroduced on campus with Coach Golemis once again at the helm — this time completely self-funded through fundraisers and donations.

At the first informational meeting, over 240 cadets attended online and in person. Although this isn’t the first time that the club has attempted to restart on campus since funding was cut in 2009, this writer, also the club’s student president, thinks that this time feels different. The momentum and support that we have found behind this club after just one semester feels surreal. It’s obvious, to me at least, that The Citadel finally wants boxing back on campus — I just hope that the administration in Deas Hall is listening. Deas Hall, the school’s sporting administration office, has yet to recognize the Boxing Club as an official sports club (like rugby or sailing), forcing The Citadel Boxing Club to operate under the status of an “academic club” that receives zero travel funding or coach stipends from the school’s athletic budget. This hasn’t seemed to stop the club from moving forward, however.

In a fundraiser to promote an end-of-semester spring match, the club raised more than $7,000 and went 4-0 on the night of the event. Although boxing at The Citadel certainly has had a storied past, only time will tell whether the future holds as much promise for the sport. Coach Golemis certainly thinks so. “I would say this is the new beginning of something that began back in the 1940s. Boxing at The Citadel Military College is alive. So here we go again.” Visit the club’s website,, for more information on The Citadel Boxing Club or how to get involved.

They met at The Citadel. 35 years later, a Fort Mill teacher gave his ‘brother’ a kidney Thu, 03 Jun 2021 10:00:00 +0000 As seen in the Rock Hill Herald, by Tobie Nell Perkins Rob Settin needed a kidney. A sacrifice by a Citadel classmate who Settin hadn’t spoken to in 35 years]]>

As seen in the Rock Hill Herald, by Tobie Nell Perkins

Rob Settin needed a kidney.

A sacrifice by a Citadel classmate who Settin hadn’t spoken to in 35 years got him the kidney he needed.

After two years of daily dialysis, Settin had almost given up.

“It’s kind of like being in a war every day,” he said. “You look at a machine, and realize that’s why you’re alive every day.”

Settin was diagnosed with stage four kidney failure in March 2019. His kidneys had completely failed following an autoimmune problem — his body had started attacking his kidneys.

Since then he had felt fatigued from even short walks. He slept at night in a recliner to prevent fluid from reaching his lungs — fluid retention is a symptom of kidney failure.

Settin says he was running out of options. None of his family members were a match and a cadaver kidney could take three to five years.

Then he got a phone call. On the other line was Bill White. The two hadn’t talked in almost 35 years.

Both graduated in 1988 from The Citadel, the military college in Charleston, South Carolina.

A universal donor

The Citadel is a brotherhood, Settin says, and graduating in the same class forms a bond for life. But White had not been his friend in school — they had mutual friends, but didn’t travel in the same circles.

“We were brothers, but not friends,” Settin said.

White had seen Settin’s health updates on the Class of ‘88 Facebook group. White’s blood type is type O-negative, called the ‘universal donor’ because it is compatible with all blood types. He knew he might be compatible to donate his kidney to Settin. And both lived in the Fort Mill, S.C., area — White teaches at Banks Trail Middle School.

“I saw a post on Facebook, this fellow Rob who had lost kidney function and had been on dialysis for two years,” White said. “I asked what his blood type was, I asked if I would be a fit.”

“I believe life’s circumstances speak to you,” White said.

White imagined what it must be like to live on dialysis for that long. He said he believes everyone should have a chance at a good life, and he felt compelled to help.

Settin checked with his doctors. They said the two could be a match.

That was December 2020. It was the last time the two would speak for four months.

In January, White went to the Atrium Health Transplant Center in Charlotte. He was a match, but he would have to pass more tests.

White passed the physical exam, but he was told his blood pressure was too high and he weighed too much.

Not wanting to give Settin false hope, White kept this to himself. But he decided he would start an exercise regimen and lose the weight.

White lost 30 pounds. And when he returned to the transplant center, he was approved to donate.

“You’re presented with these choices in life. And you take advantage of them when you’re given the choices to do the right thing. And I think intrinsically, it leads to a better life personally, and a better world for all of us,” he said. “So when I was focused on, ‘I’m going to give up a kidney.’ I was probably as pleasant a husband. As good a teacher. As good a dad that I could ever be. Because I had purpose.”

Having clear vision

In March, he called Settin to tell him the news. Other than their first phone call, the two had not had a conversation in 35 years.

“There was a lot he was doing in the background before I even knew about this,” Settin said. “He said, ‘I hope you’re ready to go.’”

White had set a surgery date for April 28.

“He shows up and takes care of me,” Settin said. He chokes up at the memory.

In April, the two entered the hospital for surgery, at opposite ends of the same hallway.

For years, Settin’s kidney disease had caused clouded vision. When he woke up from his transplant, for the first time in two years, he saw clearly.

It was the first step to getting his life back.

Before, Settin says, “We were brothers, but not friends.” Now, the two share an unbreakable bond.

They talk about each other like brothers too.

While White maintains that he’s “no Moses,” Settin couldn’t speak highly enough of him. White brags about Settin’s daughter’s soccer matches.

Definition of a hero?

Settin chokes up when he remembers the day he found out he was getting a kidney. And White apologizes for his tears when he talks about the purpose Settin gave his life.

When they talk about the surgery, White says his biggest concern was Settin.

Settin says his biggest concern was White. He told people not to pray for him. He wanted them to pray for his donor.

They talk nearly every day and meet up often. Both fondly recall the first couple days after surgery, meeting in the hallway to walk laps around the hospital.

And White’s gift has spread beyond the two of them. Settin says he can’t quantify the number of community members from his church and Bible study who rallied to pray for the man who changed his life.

“I must have had thousands of people praying for Bill,” he says. And as their Citadel class waited for updates and cheered the two on, their classmates grew closer too.

“We ended up bringing our whole class together,” Settin says, “Which is a really cool thing.”

These days, Settin’s life is returning to normal.

“I told my wife, ‘I can come back to the bed now,’” he said.

Each day, he’s relieved that a dialysis machine no longer sits in his bedroom.

Still recovering, Settin is already going on long walks and attending his daughter’s soccer matches. He does not run out of energy.

White is back feeding his chickens and spending time with his family. He’s going back to teaching. And the two meet up all the time, whether for a walk or a match of tennis.

White doesn’t like to be called a hero, and he’ll stop you if you try. He didn’t do this to be a hero, he says.

But Settin sees it differently.

“I’m not gonna argue,” Settin says.

Many of their Citadel classmates have given their lives for their country, and he knows White reserves the word ‘hero’ for that kind of sacrifice. “But he’s a hero to me. And if you asked my wife and my daughter, he’s a hero to them.”