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Introducing the 2016 Top 40 Under 40 Military
by Heidi Lynn Russell, Contributing Editor

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Article Sponsored by: Grantham

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Tenacious grit and a dogged pursuit of dreams define this year’s cadre of Top 40 Under 40 Military winners.

Recognized by CivilianJobs.com and Military Transition News, the Top 40 Under 40 Military is a list of military members and veterans who have shown exceptional resolve and achieved significant career and personal milestones.

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“Eaton is very pleased to sponsor the 2016 Top 40 Under 40 Military. Eaton is grateful to the many veterans who are Eaton employees and offer their outstanding leadership skills, dedication and ethics to further strengthen our core values. We honor the service of all veterans,” said John Spencer, Eaton Vice President and Chief Counsel, and Eaton’s Veteran ERG Executive Sponsor.

The 2016 designees come from five branches of the military, and each individual demonstrates the persistence and selflessness one consistently finds in those populations.

You could say Marine LCpl Adam Klich had to reach for his dreams with one hand tied behind his back after his original dream for a lengthy military career was dashed. He had just returned to Camp Pendleton from a non-combat deployment in which he spent about eight months between Australia, Japan, Thailand and other Asian countries.

And then his world fell apart.

“I simply woke up one day and did not have center vision in my right eye. It took the military doctors a few months to reach a prognosis, but from the start they told me it was not curable, meaning my
vision was gone,” he says.

The Marine Corps decided he was not fit to deploy. “I was placed against a medical board revision. That was the end of my military career,” Klich says.

But Klich didn’t give up.

He received an associate degree in 2013 from Norwalk Community College in Connecticut. “In order to do that within two years, I had to take classes at other local community colleges and transfer the credits to Norwalk,” he says. Klich went on to receive his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering in 2015, and a master’s in technology commercialization and entrepreneurship in 2016, both from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Today, Klich is working full-time as an Innovation Advisor at RTI International in North Carolina.

Army National Guard CPT Karthik Venkatraj followed his parents’ personal example to give back to the country while reaching for the American dream. Ten years after emigrating from India, both of his parents earned their graduate degrees and reminded him that “their narrative could not have happened anywhere else because of the values that define our nation,” he says. Venkatraj originally planned to pursue a science career like they did. But he changed his mind and decided to serve in the Army National Guard because of the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Today, he has two careers - one with the Guard, the other in Colorado state politics. His military and political achievements have garnered accolades from supervisors and colleagues, and he is now a full-time law school student at the University of Colorado (Boulder). He holds leadership positions such as President of the Military Law Society, Managing Editor of the University of Colorado Law Review and, most recently, Student Bar Association President of CU Law School.

He has spent months researching Veterans Trauma Courts, which culminated in his paper that won the 2016 National Law Review Law Student Writing Award and the Gamm Justice Award, an award given for a paper that promotes equity in the judicial system. And he and his fiancé became involved in American Military Family, a nonprofit focused on stopping veteran suicide through combat veteran counselors.

These are just two examples of the honorees’ back stories. Turn to page 10 to review profiles of each
of the Top 40 Under 40 Military and find out how the members of the class of 2016 are impacting their service branches, companies and communities.


The Top 40 Under 40 Military issue would not be possible without the hard work of an extended team at Military Transition News, not the least of which includes the panel of distinguished judges:

William W. Basnett, Brigadier General (Retired), USAFR, Past Commander of the 94th Tactical Airlift Wing (TAW), Past President and Membership Director for the Reserve Officers Association (ROA); he is currently an active real estate agent with Georgia Elite Realty in Kennesaw, GA.

Steve Clarke, Captain (Retired), USN, Strategic Adviser and Business Leader.

Kenneth A. Konstanzer, Lieutenant Colonel (Retired), USAR, Aviation, Chairman, U.S. Service Academy Selection Board for the Office of U.S. Senator David Perdue, Past Commander, U.S. Military Academy Admissions Field Force, State of Georgia.

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Heidi Lynn Russell writes about employment and business issues.

 

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