Group gives disabled veterans a new start
Ariz. Sentinels of Freedom ease access to aid, services
Amy Brooks
The Arizona Republic
May. 19, 2008 12:00 AM

Ryan Job, a Navy SEAL, lost his sight in Iraq. Donovan Spieth, in Army Special Forces, came home confined to a wheelchair.

They needed help. They got it.

Job, 27, and Spieth, 28, are the first two disabled veterans accepted by Sentinels of Freedom's Arizona chapter, founded in 2007. advertisement

The Sentinels help give new starts to disabled veterans.

"They're just fast-tracking a lot and making a lot of things happen," Spieth said. "But the great part about the organization is just the pride of doing it yourself."

The Sentinels appreciate the veterans' motivation.

"The whole idea is not to give them a hand out, it's to give them a hand up," said Howard Lein of ReMax Excalibur, which helped raise about $200,000 to bring Job and Spieth to Arizona.

Sentinels gave Spieth a $25,000 pickup truck with a crane that lifts his wheelchair into the truck bed. Job has an office with a special computer for the blind at ReMax, where he goes several times a week with his dog, Trey, to do online course work.

Spieth and Job are working on bachelor's degrees in business through a distance-learning program.

"The only reason I'm in school now is because the Sentinels forced the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) to push the paperwork through," Job said.

Job, who wanted to be a pilot, said he's contemplating working in defense.

Spieth said he's learning as much about entrepreneurship as he can. But he said he would like to help other veterans.

"It would be nice to get into that type of work to change a lot of the dead weight that soldiers have to face when they come back," he said.

Previously career military men, Job and Spieth said they were "jumping through hoops," struggling to cut through the VA's red tape.

Job was shot in the face in Iraq, which severed both optic nerves and damaged his right eye socket.

"I go through countless appointments related to surgeries that I need for my eye," Job said. "I have to pay money to fix combat injuries. I think that's unacceptable."

After serving in Iraq, Spieth was sent to Germany, where he was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. The once-elite soldier can't walk and has limited use of his arms.

Job moved from San Diego to Scottsdale in June with his wife, Kelly, who is a graduate student in nursing.

"The Sentinels program has been great because we would've moved here knowing nobody," Job said. "I would've stayed at my house and worked on my classes for two years. And I would've been a hermit."

Spieth moved to Scottsdale in January.

Lein said the Arizona Sentinels hope to bring in a veteran every two to three months.

While the group has enough mentors, although he said more donors are needed.

Much of the money comes from private donors and corporations that Lein said will ultimately employ the soldiers.

"I think that in the end the real solution is for corporate America to recognize that when these men and women are retrained, they have a probability of being some of the best, most loyal employees," Lein said. ... s0519.html