Major Kent Solheim recently spoke to the Rotary Club of Franklin about the Gold Star Teen Adventures, a program that provides adventure camps to surviving children of fallen servicemen and women.
Bill Barr began the program by introducing guests Dan and Cheryl Rogers, owners of DuoTech Services, Inc. located in Franklin. Dan then introduced the program speaker, Major Kent Solheim, founder of Gold Star Teen Adventures. Dan shared how he and Cheryl became dear friends with Major Solheim through their volunteer flight missions with the Veterans Airlift Command.
Major Solheim began his outstanding 20 year U.S. Army career as an enlisted soldier but soon moved up through the ranks to graduate from Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as an Armor Second Lieutenant. He obtained a Master of Education degree from the University of Louisville. Next, he completed the Special Forces Qualification Course and served in command positions through six deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was severely wounded in Iraq in 2007 resulting in the loss of his right leg. From that near death experience and his two year recovery, Major Solheim was inspired to create Gold Star Teen Adventures.
Gold Star Teen Adventures (GSTA) is a 501(c)3 entity that has a mission to provide adventure camps to the surviving youth of Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps special operations personnel that have lost their lives in the line of duty. Its vision is to enable emotional healing, foster relationships, and develop character and leadership skills. GSTA will strive to achieve these goals in 2014 by implementing four major activities consisting of two scuba diving camps, a sailing camp, and an outdoor camp. The outdoor camp will host 15 kids and take place July 18-24 in Franklin under the leadership of Dan and Cheryl. With the help of many volunteers, including Franklin Rotarians, the camp will have a whitewater rafting adventure, a rock climbing/repelling component, and survival training by Special Forces instructors. The estimated cost of this event is $29,000. Logistical support from the community is needed to make this event a success.
Major Solheim’s passion is evident as he talks of these kids who have lost a loved one in battle and the emotional personal loss he feels about his fallen comrades. He and his volunteers hope to create a relationship of mentoring for these young people, an opportunity for healing, and remembrance of just who their fallen loved ones were and their heroism and dedication. The Major shared that 90 percent of the kids in his program go on to college and many have earned scholarships. Major Kent Solheim is a true American hero, and is to be commended for his service to our country and his efforts to make a difference in the lives of these surviving children.
For more information about the Gold Star Teen Adventure Program and how you can be involved, visit www.GSTAventure.org.
Submitted by Tom Coley.