On Thursday, Aug. 13, the Wounded Warrior Anglers of America board of directors approved three new board members, Keith Campbell, Brad Jessen and Kevin Purdy.
“I am deeply moved to have been selected to this board,” Purdy said. “I am grateful to Dave and Judy (Souders) for their unselfishness and dedication to our veterans. God has blessed me with some experience and abilities and I hope to be very helpful in any way I can.”
The three board members are joining President David Souders, Vice President Judy Souders, Treasurer Tate Hutchinson, Media Director Meghan McCoy and board members Tony Rogers and Kevin Santos.
Wounded Warrior Anglers received its nonprofit status in March 2012 after forming the idea of the organization, which began helping veterans in 2010. Since its inception, the organization has grown with both its chapters across the state of Florida and through the programs it provides for its veterans and their caregivers.
Campbell, owner of Campbell Consulting Inc., moved to Southwest Florida two weeks before Hurricane Charley swept through the area in 2004.
Before starting his consulting business he began in the restaurant industry where he managed a family-owned restaurant for 11 years. From there he ran a popular New England franchise for six years.
Once Campbell arrived in Florida he began working for corporate 7-Eleven for seven years.
“I decided to start my own consulting business where I assist business owners with such things as human resource issues, quality control, front (and) back office operations (and) profitability operations,” he said. “I’ll even assist in finding them new product to bring into their stores. I’ve been successfully growing my business for six years now.”
After having a conversation with one of the owners from Miceli’s Restaurant in Matlacha, Campbell learned about Wounded Warrior Anglers and decided to attend an event to become more familiarized with the organization.
“After meeting Judy and Dave Souders I knew I wanted to be part of it. They are dedicated, humble and have great knowledge about the needs of our vets,” he said.
When the opportunity rose, Campbell knew he wanted to submit his resume to be considered as a new board member of Wounded Warrior Anglers.
“Although I was never in the military, my father and other family members were,” he said. “I have a heart for our veterans and I feel it’s an honor to support our vets anyway I can,” he said.
Becoming a board member is a blessing for Campbell because it provides another way for him to give back to veterans who have done so much for this country.
As a board member, Campbell hopes to assist in fundraising efforts, as well as bring more awareness to the organization.
“I’d love to see new chapters across the country open to continue the ongoing PTSD support these veterans so desperately need,” Campbell said.
Campbell is married to his high school sweetheart of 23 years and has two grown sons.
Jessen moved to Southwest Florida in April 2014 after visiting his entire life due to his grandparents moving to the area in the early 70s.
After 21 years in the service, Jessen retired from the Air Force. He spent three years as a mechanic and the remaining 18 years as a flight engineer on the C-5 Galaxy while serving his country.
Two years ago he began his second career as a financial advisor representing Edward Jones in Matlacha, Florida.
During the fall of 2014, Jessen had the opportunity to learn about the organization after visiting Spa 33 in Matlacha.
“As I got to know Tammey and Nadine (both owners of Spa 33), they encouraged me to get involved after they found out I was a disabled veteran, retired from the Air Force,” he said.
Once he became involved in the organization, Jessen wanted to make a larger impact for veterans, which is why he decided to throw his hat in the ring to be considered as a board member.
“It was important to me to become a board member because I have such a deep belief in the organization’s mission,” he said. “It has been of great benefit to me personally and I intend to be a part of the leadership team to ensure we continue to serve those veterans and their families for years to come. I look forward to growing the organization to serve those we don’t have the pleasure of serving currently.”
While sitting on the board, Jessen looks forward to pursing a greater national presence that has deep seeded relationships serving veterans in need in each community where there are existing chapters, as well as future chapters.
His thoughts are “if we can keep out of our own way, there is no limit to where we might take WWA in the years to come.” Jessen said the possibilities are endless with an open mind while keeping everyone’s interest in mind.
“I am humbled to be a part of the team of leaders and look forward to where we might go as time moves on,” he said.
Jessen has been married to his wife Kelli for 18 years and has two beautiful daughters, Madison, 14, and Riley, 4.
In 2011, Purdy moved to Cape Coral with his wife Heather to help her elderly father remain independent. Although their jobs allowed them to work anywhere in the United States, and the move was supposed to be temporary, they ended up falling in love with the area and decided to make it their permanent home.
Purdy is a United States Army veteran that has 30 percent service disability. He joined the service in 1973 when he was 17 years old after quitting high school. He later received his high school diploma from Frankfurt American High School, Bad Hersfeld, West Germany, while he was stationed on the border of west and east Germany in 1976.
His career afforded him the opportunity to gain extensive international experience as a business executive.
In 2000 and 2001 in China and Brazil, Purdy was responsible for startup development of two assembly plants, as well as assembling a large foundry green sand casting machine to be marketed and sold in Asia and South America. Branch offices were developed in India and Italy by Purdy, as well as expanding the International Sales Agent Network to include 39 countries on six continents.
His work also afforded him the opportunity to oversee and participate in industrial trade shows on five continents. The World Foundry Organization was among one of the industry conference panels he was asked to speak at during his career.
Purdy also served as a board of director for the Safari Club International Wisconsin chapter from 1994 to 2001. While he served as a board member he witnessed four new chapters being established in Wisconsin in four years.
After moving to Southwest Florida, Purdy learned about Wounded Warrior Anglers while the Souders were selling boat raffle tickets for their annual fundraiser at Miceli’s Restaurant. Soon after learning more about the organization, Purdy also wanted to help in a larger way by offering his experience.
“I wanted to be involved as board member with WWA as I feel strongly that many, many veterans and their families are in need of what WWA can provide,” he said. “As a member of the board I can lend my experience to many facets of WWA as they grow and assist not only national direction, but help to mentor individual chapter leaders and individuals.”
Purdy sees great things for the organization’s future, which all begins with assisting in the success and growth of the existing chapters.
“Of course like many things, it’s good to think in terms of growth, but at the same time we need to assist in the success and growth of the existing chapters as well,” he said.
When looking five and ten years down the road, Purdy hopes the organization will reach other regions outside of Florida.
“Hopefully in 10 years, our organization can become part of a synergistic network of veteran groups to see that the needs of all veterans and their families are being met in a timely and effective manner,” he said.
By Meghan McCoy