Honoring the Hurt

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John Hojek

Eric Snyder

Ryan Shannon

Zack Crahen

John Hojek served in the USMC from 2005-2009 as an infantryman with 1st Battalion 7th Marines Weapons Company. During his time he served two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. John is a second-year master student of clinical social work. This year he is interning at Rush Medical: Road Home Program for Veterans and their families, as well as, with the San Francisco Veterans Health Administration looking into equitable telehealth care delivery post-Covid-19. John is a member of the Global Social Development Program of study at SSA and a member of the Graduate Program of Health Administration and Policy program. Upon graduation this year, John hopes to gain employment with the Veterans' Health Administration as a clinical social worker in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Eric Snyder grew up in Northwest Suburbs of Chicago in McHenry County. He enlisted in the United States Army on January 08, 2013, following in the footsteps of his great-grandfather—a combat medic in the “Big Red One” during World War II who served in the Tunisia Campaign, Italian Campaign, Operation Overlord, Battle of the Bulge, and the eventual occupation of Berlin.

Eric began his service as a 13B cannon-crewmember as part of the 2-321st Airborne Field Artillery Regiment (AFAR), 4th Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 82nd Airborne Division until its deactivation in March 2014. He then attended Special Forces Assessment and Selection (SFAS) and was accepted into the Special Forces Qualification Course as an 18D Special Forces Medic. He spent four years as a medical sergeant for the Special Operations Resuscitation Team Charlie (SORT-C), 528th Special Troops Battalion (STB), 1st Special Forces Command (1st SFC). He operated as the team armorer, weapons expert, search and rescue expert, and Regional Support Medic amongst other capacities. Eric separated from service March 08, 2020 due to medical disabilities after seven years of service and is now one of 30 undergraduate veteran scholars at the College of University of Chicago.

Some of Eric’s accomplishments include: being the youngest person to complete the Operation of Strategic Warfare (OSW) Regional Support Medic program making him one of less than 30 people to have accomplished the course at the time as well as one of 646 people in the United States to be certified as both a Flight Paramedic and a Critical Care Paramedic, conducting +50 missions in Syria and Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, managing over $500million of military equipment, planning and executing a multi-service brigade-level training exercise, providing medical care to over 1,000 patients in more than five United States hospitals and four different countries, as well as delivering an emergency medicine and triage seminar to medical students in Honduras.

Eric is currently pursuing a dual-major in Economics and Religious Studies with a focus in Behavioral Economics and Middle Eastern religions with a desire to pursue a dual JD/MBA at the University of Chicago in order to pursue work in the non-profit sector. Eric is a life-time member and supporter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, and Wounded Warrior Project. He is also currently volunteering with Veterans Yoga Project, Warriors at Ease, the Institute of Politics, as well as serving on the Board of Advisors for the Chicago Chapter of the Blue Star Families and working with the Office for Military-Affiliated Communities (OMAC) of the University of Chicago.

Ryan Shannon joined the United States Navy on December 17, 2008. Prior to his enlistment, he attended Morris Community High School where he was a member of the student government and played multiple sports, to include track and field as well as cross-country. He still holds the school record for the 800-meter dash with a time of 1:57. His natural ability and drive in track led to his next journey into college at Aurora University where he was a member of the track and field team there. He completed just over a year there before a school shooting at Northern Illinois would change his path forever. He lost a friend in the school shooting and decided college wasn’t the right path for him which is when he joined the military.

One day aboard his submarine, Ryan was awoken by a fire alarm. Rolling out of bed to fight a potential fire, another sailor accidently landed with both feet to the back of Ryan’s neck and head - causing two cracked vertebrae and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Not being allowed to sleep for three days for fear of swelling to the brain, Ryan was evacuated to a nearby VA hospital.  

Fighting through his struggles, learning to walk and run again, Ryan has turned his trials into triumph for veteran advocacy. He has competed in several paralympic events, earning two gold and two silver medals. Three of his medals are for his participation in track events. He also participates in seated volleyball and represented "Team Navy" at the Warrior Games in Chicago, in 2017. He currently works as the Director for Hope for the Day's (HFTD)military division.  

Zackariah Crahen attended the United States Military Academy at West Point where he was a varsity member of the Track & Field team, throwing shotput and discus. He commissioned in 2012 as an Armor 2nd Lieutenant. Prior to attending West Point, he grew up in Shelby, a small farming town in north-central Ohio where he played football and track, served as the student council vice president, and participated in the Junior Statesmen of America.

Zack’s first assignment was to Ft. Benning, Georgia, where he completed the Armor Basic Officer Leadership Course and follow-on Army Reconnaissance Course. Afterwards, he PCS’d to Ft. Bliss, Texas in El Paso where he spent three years in 1-1 Cav, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division. His primary roles were as a scout Platoon Leader for Apache Troop and Executive Officer for Bandit Troop. 2nd Brigade had a unique mission set within the Army where they were responsible for conducting bi-annual, month and a half long field exercises in simulated combat conditions for the purpose of rigorously testing cutting edge communications technology not yet fielded to the Army. These tests lead to many strategic changes in equipment and doctrine for the entire Army.

Following the completion of leadership time, Zack volunteered for a deployment to Jordan where he was stationed at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Center. He worked in the J3 (Future Operations), supporting British, Canadian, and Jordanian forces’ counter ISIS operations in the tri-border region of Jordan, Iraq, and Syria. Upon his return to the US after a mission change shortened his deployment by several months, he once again PCS’d to Ft. Benning, where he spent the remainder of his time in the Army, separating in 2018.

As a first-year masters student at the Harris School of Public Policy, Zack is the President and Founder of the Military Affiliated Students of Harris (MASH) and Creator of Second Service, a podcast in partnership with OMAC and Harris UC3P, focused on highlighting the successful careers of influential veterans across the public and private sector. He is also active in the Harris Consulting Club, Urban Policy Student Association, and the Project on Political Reform. Zack plans to make his policy focus on Urban Planning and Development and hopes to work in municipal or state government upon graduation.