- The Essential Military-to-Civilian Transition Resource

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

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Article Sponsored by: Midwest Dental

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Brandon K. Alexander

Army, SGT US

Operations Manager, Penspen

In the 11 years since Brandon Alexander exited the Army, he has progressively moved through the ranks of the oil and gas industry. He started as a field technician, doing hands-on work. Today, Alexander is a U.S. Operations Manager at Penspen, an industry provider of engineering and management services. Alexander was a SGT, serving as an Avionics Mechanic from 1999 to 2005. He was awarded two Army Achievement Medals and an Army Commendation Medal. He served in both Iraq and Bosnia.

Colleen S. Balik-Meisner

Air Force, SSgt

Information Systems Security Officer, Seymour Johnson AFB, NC

In late 2014, Air Force SSgt Colleen Susan Balik-Meisner was handpicked to take over her squadron’s Unit Training Manager position. She received a Commendation Medal for managing the training program for 72 active duty Airmen. Balik-Meisner also created the 4th Communications Squadron’s Junior Enlisted Counsel at Seymour Johnson AFB, NC. The Counsel provides “a route for young Airmen (ranks E-1 to E-4) to get their voice to the Commander and other squadron leaders without repercussions,” she says. She also volunteers off base with local schools.

Michael E. Boardman

Navy, PO1

Law school student and Senior Test Engineer, General Dynamics Electric Boat

At age 25, Navy PO1 Michael Boardman was Leading Petty Officer for the Submarine Sonar A School. Currently, Boardman is a senior test engineer for General Dynamics Electric Boat. He is returning to the Navy in fall 2017 as an LTJG JAG officer, after graduating from Quinnipiac University School of Law. Boardman has two Master’s degrees from University of Phoenix and Liberty University. He has a Bachelor’s in Society and Justice from the University of Connecticut and an AAS in Electronics from Thomas Edison State University.

Zachary Branum

Navy, PO1

Inventory Manager, WIS International

Navy PO1 Zachary Branum deployed to Antarctica twice and received the Antarctic Service medal. He also deployed to Afghanistan with Task Group Trident, where he was a gunner for the Quick Reaction Force. Branum received the NATO forces medal, Army Achievement Medal, Navy Achievement Medal and Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two stars. Currently, he’s at WIS International as an Inventory Manager. Previously, he was Director of the Substance Abuse Rehabilitation Program Key West, FL. Branum has a BachelorÕs of Business Administration from Colorado Technical University.

Daniel J. Cain

Air Force, MSgt

Munitions Section Chief

Air Force MSgt Daniel Cain “has had an impeccable track record,” says his Flight Chief, Jacqueline Villanueva. “As a young airman, he was selected for the coveted position of Munitions Inspector, a position routinely held by a staff sergeant,” Villanueva says. He received a Bachelor’s from Ashford University in Business Administration in January 2015 and is expected to graduate from Columbia Southern University in December 2017 with a Master’s in Organizational Management. His military exit date is July 2021.

Ryan Callaway

Army, SSG


Georgia Army National Guard SSG Ryan Callaway has participated in countless humanitarian missions. From 2000 to 2005, he worked monthly with the homeless in Atlanta through Straight Street Ministries. In 2007, Callaway spent six months in Beirut, Lebanon, as a paraprofessional at Beirut Baptist School. In 2012, Callaway graduated from Georgia State University with a B.S. in Nursing. He is currently the Recruiting and Retention NCO for the Georgia Army National Guard in Athens, GA, and is working on an MBA at Brenau University.

Jeremiah B. Carlson

Air Force, Maj

Fighter Pilot, 4-Ship Flight Lead and Flight Commander in the F-15E Strike Eagle

After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2005, Maj Jeremiah Carlson trained as a Weapons Systems Officer in the F-15E Strike Eagle. He deployed to Afghanistan and to locations around the world several times. He attended pilot training in 2012, and returned to the F-15E. He’s a 4-ship flight lead in the F-15E at Mountain Home AFB, ID, and Flight Commander. “His professionalism and talent led directly to saving the lives of many U.S. and coalition troops on the ground,” says former Maj Jake Anderson.

Ryan I. Carlson

Marines, Capt

Tactical Mishap Investigator, office of Commandant of the Marine Corps Safety Division

Capt Ryan Carlson is a tactical mishap investigator for Headquarters Marine Corps Safety Division. He exits service in May 2017. He analyzes significant accidents to determine causing factors. His recommendations for corrective action often impact policy, techniques, tactics and procedures across the Marine Corps, says Jon Natividad, Director, Investigations Division. “There is no doubt that Capt Carlson’s efforts have preserved valuable Marine CorpsÕ resources and saved Marine’s lives,” Natividad says. Carlson has an M.S. in Logistics and Supply Chain Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

David Closson

Army, SGT

Consultant for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

David Closson’s book, “Motivational Interviewing for Campus Police,” published in 2015, is changing how officers interact with students. He was an officer at Eastern Illinois University. The book “elicits and builds students’ own internal motivation to change their high-risk behavior,” he says. Closson is a former Army SGT who deployed to Iraq in 2005. Today, he is a consultant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. He is also a professional speaker with “ForCollegeForLife,” where he focuses on serving student veterans.

Rabindra M. David

Air Force, Capt

Lawyer, Orrick law firm, Sacramento

After serving as a navigator maintenance officer and then becoming a civilian litigator, Capt Rabindra David came full circle and became an Air Force Judge Advocate General. David legally advised over 100 commanders and supervisors from 2014 to 2016, says Lt Col Patrick Schwomeyer, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate. He became Chief of Military Justice, managing over 50 cases and investigations. This September, he started at the Orrick law firm in Sacramento, CA. He received his Juris Doctor from Pepperdine University in May 2010.







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