March 7, 2020
Saturday, March 7, 2020
08:00 – 15:30
Heinz History Center
Join us on March 7th for a day of powerful messages and interactive breakouts that will encourage you to explore your higher purpose, connect to your community, and pursue your greatest potential.
ReEngage was conceived by husband and wife team, Adam and Alexandra (Pursglove) Zaffuto as a one-day conference focused on empowering veterans to become the next best version of themselves, while also connecting civilians and veterans to build strong community.
Adam served as a U.S. Army Infantry Sergeant for six years, including combat tours in Iraq in 2009-2010 and Afghanistan in 2013. Post-military, he struggled to adapt to life as a civilian as he lacked purpose and often felt isolated. After engaging with multiple resources within the veteran community and prioritizing his personal growth, he found deeper connections and re-discovered purpose in his life and career. Alexandra is a business & success coach with a background in conference & event planning. Given Adam’s experiences and Alex’s professional background and commitment to personal development, they teamed up together to launch ReEngage.
Not falling within the ideal of what a running back should look like, Bleier had to run harder and play smarter to be able to stand out. Despite his drive and ability to make the big play, the Pittsburgh Steelers only considered him a late round pick. But before the season ended that first year, he was drafted again…this time by the United States Army. At the height of the Vietnam War, Bleier was thrust into combat early and was seriously wounded when his platoon ran into an ambush. Receiving wounds from both rifle fire and grenade fragments in his legs, he was barely able to walk and his professional football career seemed to have ended before it began... For more than two years, he drove himself. Little by little he overcame obstacles and fought his way back. He not only made the Pittsburgh Steelers, but also eventually became a starting running back on a team that won four Super Bowls and became the greatest football team of the 20th century.
The hard lessons Rocky Bleier learned early in his life that helped him overcome adversity and reach his goals, have paid off after football. These lessons are seen between the lines in the popular book on his life, “Fighting Back.
Following high school, Jeremy decided to continue his education at Bakersfield College. While there, he continued to compete as a two-sport athlete. He was a key contributor on the 1994 and 1995 Western State Conference football championship team, which held a combined record of 20-2. In his two seasons under Coach Carl Bowser and Dwayne Damron, Jeremy earned an honorable mention All-Western States Conference and was a recipient of the Matt Poole Award and Bakersfield College coach’s award, amongst other honors. He concluded his time at Bakersfield College by being named the Most Outstanding Male Athlete at Bakersfield College.
At Bakersfield College, Jeremy’s talents were not just confined to the field. He graduated in 1996 with an associate degree in Criminal Justice, and was inducted into the Bakersfield College Hall of Fame. He received a scholarship offer from Arizona State University, which he accepted. As a key member of ASU’s defense, Jeremy helped guide the team to an 11-0 record in 1996. They followed this up with a 1997 Rose Bowl National Championship appearance in-which they were narrowly defeated by the Ohio St. Buckeyes. It was at Arizona St. where Jeremy became good friends with fellow teammate Pat Tillman. Tillman is famously known as a standout athlete who played for the Arizona Cardinals and turned down a multi-million dollar contract to serve in the U.S. Military, where he gave his life for his country. Following another successful season in 1997, in-which Jeremy was a 1st team All-American and Northwest Sun Bowl Defensive Lineman of the game, Jeremy decided to take his talents to the NFL.
In 1998, Jeremy was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 41st pick in the NFL draft. Jeremy spent three seasons with the Steelers and decided to pursue other NFL opportunities. Following a release from the Seattle Seahawks in 2001, Jeremy was at a crossroads in his career. It was during this period in his life that the 9/11 attacks in New York occurred. Jeremy felt called to serve following this moment, but was momentarily persuaded not to by his friend Pat Tillman. Pat encouraged Jeremy to go back into the NFL and earn his fourth season so that he could be a vested player and enjoy retirement benefits. Jeremy earned this fourth season in 2003 with the St. Louis Rams. He had qualified for his pension.
Following the news of the death of his friend Pat Tillman in 2004, Jeremy decided it was time to serve. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and began training in December 2005. At 29 years old, he was 10 years older than the average recruit, but did not let that stop him. He graduated on the same Parade Ground as his grandfather, Herman Francis, did in 1941. Jeremy was stationed with 1/3 Bravo Company of Kaneohe Bay, HI, as an Infantry Machine gunner (0331). In 2007, the 1/3 Battalion was deployed to Haditha, Iraq for a nine-month deployment. Following his deployment, Jeremy dealt with medical issues and was not returned to his infantry unit. In addition to giving advice to his fellow discharged Marines, Jeremy decided to return to school. Jeremy was discharged in August 2009 and earned his degree in liberal studies from Arizona State. He then moved back to Bakersfield, CA and married fiancé Janelle Hamilton. He became engaged in various charities dedicated to uplifting the veteran community. Through this he spoke at over 150 schools between California and Arizona. In 2012, he conducted a 3,468-mile cross country bicycle ride, visiting 78 cities in 16 states, focusing on bringing awareness to veteran suicide and childhood obesity. This campaign began at the Wall of Valor in Bakersfield, CA and ended at the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C. Jeremy averaged 35 to 100 miles a day over the course of 100 days on the trip.
Following his endeavor, Jeremy returned home where he welcomed two sons, Tristen and Gavin, to his growing family. He was named the 2011 Military Order of the Purple Heart Veteran of the Year, the 2013 All Sports United Humanitarian Recipient, the 2013 Beautiful Bakersfield Humanitarian of the Year, and a 2014 Bakersfield High School Football Hall of Fame Inductee. He then worked towards a welding degree and utilized it to become a full-time welding instructor at Bakersfield College. In 2016, he earned his master’s degree in educational leadership from Liberty University. He expects to complete his doctoral degree in education in 2020. In the spring of 2020, Jeremy will be inducted into the Museum of the Marine corps Sports Hall of Fame.
According to Matt, he is so honored to be a part of ReEngage! He says, "For me, this is an an opportunity to support, and hopefully, inspire local heroes whose dedication and sacrifice inspire me."
On the registration form, all attendees will select one morning and one afternoon breakout session to attend during the day.
From Veteran to Elder: Your Changing Roles
by Dr. Roger Brooke, Director, Military Psychology Services at Duquesne University
Dr. Roger Brooke will lead a discussion of what it means to be a veteran in our society and for the next generation. Following the lessons learned from traditional warrior societies, we shall trace the path from veteran to elder in our society in families and dive into what that might mean in really practical terms.
Freedom in Movement
by Jon Kolb, former Pittsburgh Steeler and Founder of Adventures in Training with a Purpose
Emotional stability and growth as well as cognitive behavioral function are tied to movement. The same thing that helps us move, helps us think. Freedom in movement will empower you to build relationships and enjoy the freedom of “moving and doing”.
Finding Faith in the Foxhole
by Sheldon Williams, Pastor of ACAC Homestead Campus
Individuals who have served in the military understand what it means to be prepared for battle, yet may struggle when being faced with a myriad of life challenges. This breakout session highlights the importance of embracing a philosophy of faith that can aid you as you face those challenges.
When Being a Veteran Doesn’t Matter
by Anthony Stough, Founder of Civease
Veterans often hear how their experiences can help companies in areas of leadership, ethics, and grit and this is what companies want from employees. In reality, the data shows that veterans are massively underemployed. You will learn to understand WHEN your veteran status doesn’t matter on the job and how to navigate this challenge.
Leading by Example with Grace and Discipline
Chris Phillips, AVP Military Affairs Liaison at PNC
As a former US Marine with over 20 years of experience in corporate America and now an adjunct faculty member at Duquesne and public speaking coach, Chris Phillips will lead this session on leadership from a veteran’s perspective.
My Vet, My Hero: Healing a War-Torn Relationship
Eric Guy, Chief Victory Officer of Center for Victory
Trauma, especially for Veterans, can leave lasting scars on relationships. Learn how to understand and resolve many of the challenges faced by our returning Veterans through a story of resiliency and triumph.