Matthew “Ski” Wiatrowski (Left) and Omar Curbelo (Right)

Omar had aspirations of becoming a firefighter during his five years of service as a Marine. But during his combat tour in 2011, he was seriously injured in Afghanistan. Omar had to undergo an extensive amount of physical rehabilitation due to his injuries, but his own mental obstacles were even more challenging. He had doubts that he was physically capable of becoming a firefighter.

Leadership Under Fire

Omar’s reservations didn’t last long, however, after attending the Leadership Under Fire Conference with Hope For The Warriors® in Spring 2013. He was one of sixteen wounded service members and veterans that attended the workshop and training session. Omar was able to successfully complete authentic simulations of fire attack and rescue. The conference was the catalyst that changed Omar’s outlook and gave him the tools he needed to face mental and physical challenges.

Each conference participant is also paired with a mentor. Omar’s mentors were Matthew “Ski” Wiatrowski, a Marine Corps disabled veteran and firefighter, and Joseph “Doc” Rimkus, a Navy Corpsman and firefighter Lieutenant. With Ski and Doc’s influence and mentorship, Omar was able to challenge his personal doubts by pursuing a career with the Charlotte Fire Department.

Through our Career Transition & Education Programs, Hope For The Warriors® paid for Omar’s expenses to attend the Leadership Under Fire Conference in 2013, where he gained the confidence and the drive to accomplish his goal of becoming a firefighter.

A Dream Becomes Reality

Omar has since been medically retired from the Marine Corps and accepted into the Charlotte Fire Department Academy. Working together, Hope For The Warriors® and Leadership Under Fire gave Omar the confidence to pursue his goals, as well as the mentorship, guidance, and knowledge to support his transition. As a result, Omar’s dream to become a firefighter is now a reality.