Maxwell students named as 2017-18 SoldierStrong scholars
Maxwell graduate students Mitch
Forbes and Chris Tonsmeire, both U.S. military veterans, have been named as this year’s SoldierStrong scholars,
under terms of a scholarship the SoldierStrong Foundation provides to veterans at the School. Forbes
is pursuing an Executive MPA, having previously earned from Maxwell a BA in policy
studies, and Tonsmeire is a first-year MA student in international relations.
scholarship program supports U.S. military veterans wishing to pursue higher
education opportunities as civilians upon their return from service abroad. As
part of its larger commitment to improving the lives of armed forces veterans,
the SoldierStrong Foundation funds a SoldierStrong endowment at the Maxwell
School, providing awards to fill tuition gaps the Post-9/11 GI Bill may leave.
Recipients are named by the foundation, based on nominations from the School.
SoldierStrong is the brainchild
of Christopher Meek, a philanthropist and businessman who co-founded the nonprofit
in 2009 as SoldierSocks, whose initial mission was to provide supplemental
clothing and supplies to soldiers serving overseas. Meek is a Maxwell School
graduate, with a BA in economics and political science (1992); and a member of
the Maxwell Advisory Board.
Mitch Forbes is a Texas
native who joined the Army in 2012 and was assigned to the 10th Mountain
Division as an 11B Infantryman. Forbes was deployed to Logar Province in
Afghanistan, where his platoon was ambushed and Forbes was wounded by enemy
small arms fire. After undergoing dozens of surgical procedures while
recovering at Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Forbes was medically retired
from the Army, came to Syracuse University, and earned his BA in policy studies.
Chris Tonsmeire began his
military career after his freshman year of college, enlisting in the U.S. Army
Reserves as a combat engineer assigned to the 841st Combat Engineer
Battalion (Wheeled). Shortly after the events of September 11, 2001, Tonsmeire
received a release from the Reserves in order to join the Army Special Forces,
with which, as a member of the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne),
he served two combat tours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During his second tour, he
was wounded in action and was unable to remain an active member of Special Forces.
In 2009, he separated from the military to continue his education. During his service, he earned
the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and Combat Infantryman’s Badge.
“The SoldierStrong program has allowed a group
of very deserving veteran students at the Maxwell School and other institutions
to pursue high-value degree programs, which will allow them to continue their
public service,” says Robert B. Murrett, professor of practice in public administration
and international affairs who oversees the program at Maxwell. “Mitch Forbes
and Chris Tonsmeire join three prior SoldierStrong Scholars at Maxwell — Jordan
Robinson, Samuel Orlan, and Jesse Campion — all of whom have remarkable records
of service and continued strong dedication to the nation.”