From Our Board
My name is Ramon Encinas and I am a Combat Veteran and as an FMF Corpsman, I had the privilege to serve among many unsung heroes.
I am originally from Nogales, Arizona. I enlisted in the US Navy immediately after graduating Nogales High School as a Hospital Corpsman.
In March 2008, Marines of Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines arrived to reinforce the British and Estonian forces. The Marines' mission was to "train police", but we were surprised to arrive in a ghost town. The city was in ruins, mined and dangerous. Our mission quickly pivoted to securing the town so that the locals and their police could return, and for the next six months we battled alongside Royal Marines and Estonian forces (Estcoy-6 "Polar Bears" C-company) to regain control of the area immediately surrounding the district center. The 200-strong Marine company soon found themselves embroiled in heavy combat day and night.
Operations were violent and continuous. 19 lost their lives and 62 were wounded. Our unit confirmed over 600 insurgent deaths.
Warriors go to war. We answer the call to take the battle to the enemy. The unfortunate truth for survivors is that, all too often, the war follows us home. To date, our new enemy –PTSD has driven 38 Marines and Sailors of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines to suicide. Our battle persists beyond the battlefield.
Invisible illnesses continue to ravage the ranks of our future leaders. New York Times came to Tucson to interview me and wrote a paper titled Veterans Try to Save One Another. The article also highlights Manny Bojorquez, a Marine native to Arizona. The New York Times has a couple of videos taken while on deployment and interviews of fellow brothers.
After my military time, I graduated from the University of Arizona and immediately after I received a unique opportunity to work for Senator John McCain specializing in Veteran and Military issues until his seat in the Senate was no more. And as I received opportunities to continue growing. I wanted to stay as his Veteran staff member. Loyalty is paramount.
Suicide Prevention was on the top of John McCain’s priority and I had skin in the game as he passed a $10 Billion-dollar bill for mental health for the Nations Veterans with the name of a Sniper that I served with in 2008. Clay Hunt. Clay left behind a wife.
Team Rubicon continuous to honors his memory.
Although all this help is being provided, the statistics are staggering and if you ask me, I believe the number is higher than 22 a day.
In my experience, as a transitional veteran and a former Congressional Veteran Advocate, we are not allocating proper resources where it needed the most… Comradery through physical fitness and peer-to-peer counseling after a good workout session.
This program is where I want to put my efforts to enlist in the war against veteran suicide.
I want to make a difference in Arizona and hopefully in the nation as I have done this before.
My Veteran Passion is it. I want to spearhead the program in Arizona.
Sponsoring this program would bring great aid to veterans not only in a physical aspect but also a greatly needed outlet for mental health.
I want to enlist in the war against Veteran Suicide. Can you enlist with me? Can you help me fight the enemy?
I thank you for your time.
Matthew Dixon spent 12 years in the Marine Corps. Four of those years were active duty with Ramon “Doc” Encinas in India Battery 3rd Battalion 10th Marines as an artillery cannoneer going on the 26th MEU.
During that deployment, he served in the countries of Israel, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, UAE, Malta, Suda Bay, Crete, and Spain.
He then transitioned to the Marine Corps Reserves where he also laterally moved into the infantry as a 0341 Mortarman. During that time, he went on a deployment to the Republic of Georgia to train the Georgian Army in Marine Corps infantry tactics, specializing in Close Quarters Combat and Mobile Operations on Urbanized Terrain.
Matt served for 8 years in the reserves until getting out. While serving in the Marine Reserves, he was a police officer. He served as a patrol officer for 5 years until being promoted to Detective in Narcotic Operations.
Matt served as the lead undercover detective for three years, infiltrating numerous drug organizations and gangs. He worked on a variety of undercover operations including, murder for hire, narcotic buys, narcotic sales, illegal gun manufacturing and sales, multi-jurisdictional drug rings, and criminal organizations. He successfully completed over 250 undercover cases in three years with both Federal and local law enforcement agencies.
Once the cases were complete, Matt left law enforcement to pursue a civilian career in being the DuPont Security Manager of a chemical facility. He has three children with which, in his new career, he is able to spend more time.
Pedro G. VillafanaMedia & Marketing Director
Pedro G. Villafana, is a United States Air Force Veteran from the Will Roger’s Oklahoma Air National Guard 137 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron/137 Special Operations Wing. Pedro prior to enlisting was first in the Air Force ROTC program at Oklahoma State University in plans to become a flight nurse; however, although being in that program, Pedro felt that his calling was instead, for him to join sooner and therefore decided to postpone his studies and dive in as an enlisted Airman 1st Class in June 2011.
Upon enlisting, Pedro, joined the OKANG/USAF 137AES/137SOW as an Aeromedical Flight Technician. During his time of service, he attended NREMT schooling, flight schooling, and survival training of evasion and capture. He trained as a medical technician at the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC), now known as Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), within the joint base located in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. From there he continued his flight school training in Ohio learning to configure medical setups within aircraft models such as the C-130J, C-21, C-17, and KC-135. Pedro, although never deployed, was sent on numerous training missions within the U.S. and ended his service in July 2017 as a Senior Airman.
Pedro then continued to pursue his career in nursing and then achieved his Associates Degree of Nursing Science in Dec. 2018 from Oklahoma City Community College. Furthermore, with this degree he was able to practice multiple nursing professions to include oncology, med-surg, urgent care, travel nursing, precepting and lastly, community internal medicine. Pedro now currently works as a Registered Nurse for the #1 Hospital in the world, Mayo Clinic; along with his beautiful wife, Van Pham DNP, APRN, CNP.