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SIOP HomeProsocial I-O → ODU and Combat Wounded Initiative

SIOP Spotlight on Pro-social and Veterans Initiative: Old Dominion University & Combat Wounded Coalition

Jason “Jay” Redman is a combat wounded Navy Seal veteran, and the founder and CEO of Combat Wounded Coalition. Jay was wounded during combat operations in Iraq, but his story didn’t end there; while receiving treatment at Bethesda Naval Medical Center, he posted a sign which embodied his attitude toward healing. The note rejected sorrow, embraced his love for others, and highlighted his optimism towards his healing journey.

Taking what he had learned from his own healing journey, Jay sought to develop Overcome Academy, a training program designed to facilitate veterans’ transition to civilian focusing on both work-related and life skills.  As an ODU alumnus himself, Jay reached out to Drs. Michelle Kelly and Konstantin Cigularov to assist in the develop of the course curriculum and evaluation using industrial-organizational psychology research.  Dr. Cigularov’s human resource development class took the initiative to collaborate with Jay as a class project, led by Phil Dillulio.

Jay was concerned so many veterans were coming into civilian life without the purpose so clearly defined during their military tenure.  He envisioned a program not exclusively focused on work, but applicable to life generally.  The class first suggested conducting a training needs analysis to identify competencies relevant to the Overcome Academy.  Jay was open to the suggestion. In addition to Jay’s own experiences, the students identified other skills through methodologically rigorous focus groups, interviews, and an online needs assessment survey of nearly 400 combat wounded veterans 

We asked Phil about the strengths and challenges the team faced. Phil mentioned it was challenging to coordinate the logistics and meetings with key stakeholders, given their tight deadline. Additionally, the students had to learn military jargon to better speak the client’s and interviewees language.  These challenges notwithstanding, the students found the work intrinsically motivating, and Jay’s energy infectious, which made the process rewarding.

Dr. Cigularov and his class continued their relationship with Combat Wounded Coalition to develop the training program as well.  As of this writing, the first Overcome Academy class has concluded.  The ODU students are now evaluating the training using their IO methods and providing continued support beyond the course requirements.

During the Toast to the Heroes, the Combat Wounded Coalition's largest annual fundraiser, the ODU psychology department was awarded with the 2018 Organization Hero Within Award for their work on the Overcome Academy.

Although Phil was interviewed as the project lead, he emphasized the success of this project was driven by the collaborative effort of all team members, including fellow students Andrew Collmus, Katelyn Reynoldson, Chad Kenneally, and William P. Jimenez and faculty members Dr. Kelly and Dr. Cigularov.