Aaron Franklin

Wyakin Warrior/Alumni

US Army

MBA Graduate 2023

To The Incredible Wyakin Foundation Donors and Staff:

I’m writing on behalf of myself and my two children to thank you for your immense support during my year-and-a-half graduate school journey. As you may know, I came to the Foundation through an alumnus in 2022. The process was surprisingly easy and straightforward thanks to George and Chelsea. I wasn’t sure what was in store as far as participation requirements but I soon found out that virtual accommodations were offered and it made my membership that much more comfortable.

2022 was a tumultuous year for me and my family. While I was excited to learn as a graduate student, I still had to adjust to mental health-related aspects of my life simultaneously. I managed to attend cognitive processing therapy, which can be a triggering, challenging endeavor in and of itself, while balancing school and family demands. As fate would have it, my family dynamics changed dramatically and I had to transition from a blended family into a single-parent home. Admittedly, this sometimes took a toll on job searching and preparing for job interviews. As most veterans do, I have ingrained in me a “never quit” mentality although that feeling did come about many times during the course of my membership.

I mention my challenges because I want to highlight the value of the Wyakin Foundation. The Wyakin Foundation reminded me of my weekend drills with the Army National Guard although it is only an hour or two of time that we convene. Even on a virtual level, I could almost feel the energy of laughter, humorous sarcasm, and the strong military-like structure I was used to over the zoom camera. Sometimes I think I could hear Cory’s voice all the way over in Missoula 😂. Aside from gleaning knowledge on business acumen, the Professional Development Seminars served as a way for me to feel like I wasn’t alone as much as the civilian world can sometimes make a veteran feel. The monthly check-ins with George were sometimes the only thing that kept me going because the job market is full of hits and misses, and may bring more misses as some veterans, like myself, have sizable employment gaps due to taking time off to figure things out for themselves. Sometimes just having someone to keep me accountable and listen even when I may have nothing much to report is one of the best tangible assets the Wyakin Foundation has given me. The monthly and emergent grants have also been instrumental in moving forward on my path as some days it has made life less stressful and provided one less thing to worry about, even if it was just for the week so that I could continue to focus on school. Of course, there are many more elements to the Foundation that helped me become successful but these few meant the most to me.

It is bittersweet that my departure is imminent to become a Wyakin alumnus. I really didn’t think I’d make it to see this part or get this master’s degree. Along with that, my tentative start date for a federal job is in early June and it is where I wanted to be. I will be using my MBA to assist veterans in the Department of Veterans Affairs and deliver exceptional healthcare. I’m living proof that the mission of the Wyakin Foundation is alive and well. I wish I could stay but I’m sure there are many veterans like myself waiting to become successful so I’ll close with a few notes of gratitude.

Thank you to the Wyakin staff for their tremendous fundraising efforts, for putting together PDS workshops, and for the introduction to my mentor Rudy Soto. I’d also like to thank the generous donors for having a heart for veterans in this country. I will help spread the word about this amazing organization and hopefully, one day soon, give back.

Thank you,

Aaron Franklin