‘Variety Salute to Service’ Veterans Talk Finding Meaning Post-Service

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“Variety Salute to Service” saw its third consecutive year of airing on the History channel Nov. 11, Veterans Day, featuring stories from veterans on their transition into new and meaningful careers post-service.

The program was hosted by comedian Seth Meyers — host of “Late Night With Seth Meyers” — and offered vignettes of select veterans who “continue to answer the call of duty after their call of service is done,” Meyers said.

“My transition from the military was not perfect,” said Steve Jimenez, a retired Marine captain highlighted in the program. “I was dying inside. I became extremely depressed, and I isolated myself significantly for about three years.”

Eventually, Jimenez found solace in an unlikely vocation: beekeeping. He started the organization Hives for Heroes in 2018 with the tagline “Save Bees — Save Vets” to emphasize the nonprofit’s mission of using bee conservation as a tool for transitioning individuals out of active duty.

“I really attribute bees to saving my life,” Jimenez continued.

The program also honored Kenny Bass, a retired Marine corporal who was hit by an improvised explosive device at age 23 while serving in Iraq. The incident resulted in traumatic brain injury, PTSD and tinnitus — all of which Bass struggled to cope with until he met a German Shepherd named Atlas in late 2012.

Atlas gave the ex-Marine a “new leash on life,” Bass said, prompting him to start the Battle Buddy Foundation six months after Atlas’ adoption. The nonprofit organization fundraises for service-disabled combat veterans to receive a trained service dog at zero cost. Bass said service dogs are typically sold for anywhere between $10,000 and $60,000.

“After nearly eight or nine years of taking anywhere from three to 33 pills a day over that time frame, the prescription that worked the most was the prescription the [U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs] wrote for a service dog,” Bass said.

Other veterans who receive recognition in the program are Justin Matejcek, Dan Filer, Beau Rodriguez, Brooke Jackson Kahn, Cliff Hagan, Muria Nisbett and more. The ways in which these individuals have found renewed motivation post-service ranges from hosting a rock-climbing group to establishing a mental health practice.

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