In February 2011, 24 active-duty Marines on medical hold at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

, Calif., graduated from Wounded Marine Careers Foundation media training. Professor James Egan (standing, left), Kevin Lombard (back row) and Judith Paixao (center, left) made the training possible.

The Wounded Marine Careers Foundation:

Checking In

Story by Allan T. Duffin • Photos courtesy of Wounded Marine Careers Foundation


our years ago a dedicated husbandand-wife team kicked around the innovative idea of helping wounded warriors transition into civilian careers in media. Kevin “Kev” Lombard and Judith Paixao founded the Wounded Marine Careers Foundation to train veterans for the filmmaking process from scripting to cinematography to editing. For Lombard and Paixao it was the toughest assignment of their lives. They were determined to keep the organization a nonprofit entity, host as many classes for as many students as they could and fund the annual operating budget via donations and government grants. Leatherneck first visited with Lombard and Paixao in February 2008 as they launched their film school at the Stu Segall

Studio in San Diego. The studio lot also hosts tactical training for the military. At the end of the 10-week inaugural class, the 19 graduates had their union cards and more than 140 job leads to get a start in the film industry. In January 2009, Lombard and Paixao kicked off their second class, extending it to 14 weeks for nine students—one activeduty and eight medically retired military personnel. The foundation’s emphasis on job training and placement paid off. Upon graduating, one of the students joined the U.S. Border Patrol in San Diego as audiovisual director, and another worked as an assistant cameraman on the ABCTV series “Desperate Housewives.” Other members of the class of 2009 are working in various capacities in the film and television industries. Former Army Staff Sergeant Richard Gooding is a video editor for Phoenix-based TriWest

Healthcare Alliance, which administers the TRICARE program in 21 states. One young Marine, an amputee, started his own photography studio. Another graduate is a freelance camera operator for TV reality shows. Since graduating its second class in San Diego, the foundation has hit the road, offering its classes at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif., and at the Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. The Wounded Warrior Battalion-West, headquartered at Camp Pendleton, which oversees the barracks that houses those who are recovering from injuries, invited Lombard and Paixao to teach their film program on base, making everything more convenient for the wounded Marines on medical hold. Lombard and Paixao are continuing their fundraising efforts and admit that gathering the money to keep the foundation



for example.mca-marines. Paixao. “Brad” Pulliam. “One is a three-time Academy Award winner. professional skills.” explained Cpl Kevin McCall. to put their projects together. and then we’ll go out and work together. The foundation’s students use Apple’s editing software. allow the foundation to fulfill its goals of giving its students “real work.” That outreach resulted in multiple inquiries and contracts hiring the foundation to produce media content. Kevin Lombard. “After we graduated our first AUGUST 2011 LEATHERNECK 37 .” continued Paixao.” explained Paixao. So she and Lombard began advertising the foundation’s services as a media production company. The Wounded Marine Careers Foundation benefits greatly from a staff who works and teaches in the film industry. “They don’t know what their future will be. “I had no clue what I was getting myself into. “We started taking jobs. It wasn’t enough to train the wounded warriors and send them out into the civilian world with new. “allows them to focus on something positive and provides a great confidence and morale builder. camera operation. ‘The foundation will get jobs. but also from their classes that were held in San Diego. “I had never written a story before. we stay with them until they’re comfortable out on their own. “along with a number of defense contracts. The class helps students explore various careers within the media industry— dir ecting. Colo.” said Lombard.’ Instead of just teaching them how to fish.” quipped Lombard. photography and the like— so that the students can see which area interests them the most. “Kev and I realized that the mission was much bigger than we thought it would be.going in the current economy is a tough but reachable goal. Our clients are hiring battle-tested video production fire teams who deliver to the highest creative and professional standards.” said Pulliam.” “We realized that we had to teach our Marines how to survive in the civilian work environment. “We told the men.’s own editing staff from Cupertino. Cpl Kealoha Kuikahi and Sgt Brad Pulliam prepare for Kuikahi’s solo coverage at the Warrior Games held in May at Colorado Springs.” Despite all of their teaching and encouragement. were funded through an earmark grant from the U. “A lot of projects came to us from the Marine Corps. “We now have some 25 or so ‘sons’ of various ages. They can use still photography and cinematography and their writing to create and see a story all the way through to the end and provide for their families in the process. Paixao and Lombard concluded that they had accomplished only “half or even a third of what [they] needed to do. The wounded Marines learn new skills.” said Lombard. The recent four-week classes at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms.” The school. used a video camera aside from From the left. It’s a win-win. scriptwriting. Times of Challenge. a combat engineer. www. Calif. we’ll hire you.” Sergeant Cameron B.” The program also features a USC professor of screenwriting and a member of Apple Inc. the Marine Corps Association and the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation. on-the-job training experience and professional pay. Final Cut Pro. “A lot of times [the students] come to us a little bit lost and not sure what they want to do. graduated from the WMCF training and now is going to school in Southern California to become a teacher specializing in photography. “I developed our curriculum with the assistance of two professors at USC. editing.S. Times of Change Over the past three years. a Marine combat cameraman. These young wounded Marines literally didn’t know how to exist in the civilian workplace. the foundation’s curriculum has shifted from a studio-based offering inside a stationary schoolhouse to a mobile.” said Paixao. Department of Labor. continued Lombard.” Lombard and Paixao have hired crewmembers not only from their students at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms.” These opportunities. was considering his career options when he heard about the foundation’s training course. she added. deployable program that adjusts its focus to the students’ needs and personal interests.

helping Marines and their wives deal with everyday stressors. Additionally. for example. Cpl Kealoha Kuikahi and Cpl Nate Peck work on an editing project in the Wounded Warrior Battalion-West.” The ability to reach a large audience at the tap of a key has proved useful to many small businesses.” This shift in approach also has altered how the foundation hires its teaching staff. “When we got the truck two years ago. He has written a commercial for dstressline. “I saw a great need for people to provide this service and to do it professionally. “Each of our graduates leaves our training capable of producing.” Keeping Up With the Internet By keeping the curriculum flexible. once he has completed that program he’ll return to the foundation and teach Final Cut to inbound students.” said Lombard. 38 LEATHERNECK AUGUST 2011 www. he continued. while another student wanted to become a professional archer.” said Paixao.mca-marines.” Other students. More content is being shot for the Web.” said Paixao.” Paixao continued.” said Paixao. A Marine family donated a Chevy Suburban. Calif. “The Marines themselves give us the parameters of what they want to learn.” Lombard and Paixao now spend most of their time on the road rather than at the home office. “We have seen the media industry tran­ sition to the Web.” said Paixao. One student. Kev and Judith took us under their wings and taught us all of the basics. she said. Instructors from Los Angeles and San Diego.making home videos. want to set up websites for businesses that they’ll open once they’re medically retired. former students are re­ turning to the foundation as instructors: One recent graduate is taking a follow­ on certification course in the Apple editing software Final Cut taught classes at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms.” The two recent courses. solv­ ing the foundation’s problem of how to deploy its classroom gear. “Some simply want to learn how to put together videos that allow them to tell their own story. Sgt Andy Chung. referring to the industry term for a producer­editor. computers and other equipment to the classrooms on base. noted Paixao. classroom. leaner version of the program hires most of its staff locally. The two San Diego classes featured instructors from Hollywood. “When we first started out. “it had 87.” Because the foundation now receives contracts to produce media content. Both would use social networking and develop their own websites.” said Lombard. the students are able to participate in real­world projects as they learn their trade at the school. Having a constant connection to the industry is important. “Ma rines are expeditionary. and the foundation’s media students Above: Cpl Nate Peck was a machine-gunner and had never worked with a computer prior to the Wounded Warriors Careers in Media class he took in February. “such as a feature news story that goes on a corporate web­ site.’ ” said Paixao. Below: From the left. said Lombard. New York. To teach at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms. talked about launching a hunting business in Alaska. and the market is expanding in that area. “A lot of Marines have stepped up and helped us. “websites like YouTube and Facebook weren’t nearly as prevalent as they are now. “That wasn’t in the wounded warrior mindset when we started things four years ago.000 miles. “We want to raise a Marine up from the ranks who has never considered this profession and have him come onto the team to mentor his fellow wounded Marines. Lombard and Paixao are better able to help students before and after graduation. North Carolina and Florida. The new.” Preparing for the “Outside World” Anyone who has left a career in the military can expect a certain amount of shock while adjusting to life in the civilian world.” said Paixao. prefer­ ring to bring in professionals who actually work in the industry. “One hundred percent of what we film now is put on websites. the couple had to transport cameras. “We need to be able to move around. “That’s a huge goal of ours.” “We teach them to be ‘preditors. Camp Pendleton. because those professionals can be more effective in preparing the Marines for a career in the industry. It’s now up to . Lombard is careful to employ instructors who are not full­time academics.. focused on this type of work. shooting and editing stories on video. and we need to be also.” explained Paixao. “Almost anybody who has a website now wants video.000 miles on it. to go where the Marines are. or edited video footage and tried to tell a story through visual images.

“We want them to feel comfortable to flow in and out of the classroom. The classes have become more discussion-oriented with ideas blossoming into student projects. One of the two Marines who produced the video plans to make a career in the film industry.” said Lombard. “It was arguably the most powerful piece on PTSD that we have ever seen. “It becomes infectious.” said Del Fiorentino. two students—one a K-9 handler and the other a sniper— pooled their personal experiences about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) into a short video piece that they put together overnight. this is giving me a form of treatment that hasn’t been tested and used yet. “The program teaches them a professional skill that will help them move forward in their daily lives. appreciated this approach as he recovered from his injuries. “We want to help them generate breadand-butter income.” added Paixao. one more hour.” Lombard and Paixao make sure to accommodate the medical needs of their students. Lombard and Paixao do their best to prepare their graduates for civilian life in a very fickle career field where it can take awhile to move up the ladder. “There were no worries if you had to miss out on a class for a medical www. and Kev said he would help on Saturdays as well if we wanted extra time. a scout sniper and sniper instructor. the cameras and computer editing equipment that they bought for their first class in 2008 rapidly are becoming outdated. are no exception. so they can feed their families while excelling at their craft. Further Down the Road As the foundation continues to finetune its training program. The rough economy and contraction in the film and television industry can make it more difficult to find work. These men stay up sometimes all night in the barracks at our training studio working together on projects. a musician.Sgt Brad Pulliam. When Lombard and Paixao arrived in the classroom the following morning.” said Lombard. is now a leading partner in Command Media.” The video. “because the instructors would make sure to help you catch up when you came back. It made me realize that we don’t have to have a super disciplined class where you have to show up at a certain hour. They start talking to one another about very personal stories.” The flexible format of the foundation’s course wherein students are encouraged to create content and practice their new skills has resulted in a number of very personal projects. artist and father.” Students. Brittney. can then work for local TV stations. In a way. “Very soon we’re going to need to purAUGUST 2011 LEATHERNECK 39 . specializing in editing and special effects.” Lombard told the two Marines. Two weeks into the class at Twentynine Palms. Lombard and Paixao also are trying to keep up with the demands of ever-changing technology in the film industry. “is the essence of what we’re trying to help these young men do. which circulated among other Marines on base and headed up the chain of command as well. plan to work together on both production and post-production projects for Command Media.” said Paixao. Pulliam and his photographer appointment. “If we don’t do this one more day. editing. “This is a job that will flex and bend with my limitations in my medical disabilities. While still serviceable. “I can work safely in my home. “We were both in tears.mca-marines.” Sgt Brandon Del Fiorentino. adds Paixao. you’ve just made the last four years completely worth it. Putting together the brief but very personal video “definitely changed his life’s course as to what he would be doing when he’s medically retired in September. or [when ready] go into the world and film things I’ve never seen or experienced before. as freelancers or work together to open their own businesses developing videos for the Internet. They also made the equipment available after hours.” said Pulliam. the two Marines invited them to watch what they had created.” said Paixao.” “We’re dealing with active-duty guys who are just starting a long process of healing.” said Paixao. “The wounded warriors start having fun and opening up.

chase new equipment. The proximity to D..C.” said Lombard. for example. The couple looks forward to meeting a new group of warriors as they continue to assist and in some cases produce content with current and former students. 12-Oct. Sheriffs.” said Paixao.aduffin. “We know the mission works.” said Lombard.” Lombard and Paixao currently are planning new classes in August and September at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms. made possible by former MCA president Major General Les Palm.” “We’re ready. .” Meanwhile. “They work on projects for a certain number of hours each week. 8-Sept. where approximately 80 personnel are recovering from injuries. the foundation has a permanent California classroom with an ongoing program in the Wounded Warrior Barracks at Camp Pendleton. Lombard and Paixao launched the foundation as a nonprofit because they wanted to ensure that the school would never be about the money. “that they invited us to go to every Wounded Warrior detachment.” published by Kaplan and distributed by Simon & woundedcareers LEATHERNECK AUGUST 2011 40 www. 16 and at Twentynine Palms. This 21. and State Troopers. thanks to the efforts of Wounded Warrior Battalion-West. allows the foundation to work closely with the MCA. Duffin is a freelance writer. who completed WMCF media training in March 2011. Detectives.mca-marines.” said Paixao.” Currently. “We’re staying the course.These 11 are among the 22 active-duty Marines in Co A. Aug. “What I get from doing this is maybe a career change for life.” said Corporal Nate Peck.” said Lombard. Sept.mca-marines. He is the author of “History in Blue: 160 Years of Women Police. television producer and Air Force veteran with service in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. willing and able to help any wounded Marine or soldier with any physical or mental challenge who has a passion to learn a new skill in media. “We have 10 interns who went through the course and have been assigned to us as their duty.” Wounded Warrior Battalion-West. Duffin’s website is www. Wounded Warrior Battalion-West. which relocated in 2009 from San Diego to Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. They require just enough money to run it and fund what the wounded Marines need.” Author’s note: Upcoming course dates are as follows: Camp Pendleton. USMC (Ret). Editor’s note: Allan T. Leatherneck—On the Web See additional photos at www. they say. “and that’s reward enough. Information about the Wounded Marine Careers Foundation and how to apply for upcoming courses is available at the foundation’s website: woundedmarinecareers. also gives the foundation a heightened visibility within the Beltway and has netted many jobs for wounded-warrior graduates.” Recent developments include a crosscountry move for the foundation’s headquarters. the foundation is trying to obtain funding to bring its gear up to date. is talking to the foundation about sponsoring a class at the base in Kaneohe Bay. who wants to be an editor for a large production company. “We’ve been able to run the classes at very reduced costs right now because so far we haven’t had to purchase equipment. and help as many wounded warriors as possible. Camp Pendleton. Hawaii. “The command saw such an increase in morale among the students in the classes. and we bring in additional trainers to continually sharpen their skills. “The course has changed a lot of things in my life.