This inspiring
story of Omar demonstrates how programs within Hope For The Warriors® connect
veterans to restore hope to each other and impact their community.
Cuban native Omar Curbelo had aspirations of becoming a
firefighter during his 5 years of service as a Marine. But during his combat
service in 2011, Omar 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. In his mind, Omar’s injuries led
to doubts that he was physically capable of becoming a firefighter.
Leadership Under Fire, Inc.
Omar’s reservations didn’t last long, however, after attending
the Leadership Under Fire Conference with Hope For The Warriors® in Spring
2013. The Leadership Under Fire Program is comprised of accomplished leaders
from varied backgrounds who strive to challenge the status quo of the fire service.
The fire service affords post-9/11 military veterans with a natural transition
from the military to a similar profession rooted in the virtues of service and
sacrifice.
Omar 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 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.
Matthew “Ski” Wiatrowski (Left) &
Omar Curbelo (Right)

A Dream Becomes Reality
Omar has since been medically retired from the Marine Corps and
accepted into the Charlotte Fire Department Academy. Upon completion of the
program, he will have a job as a firefighter, a vision once stalled by his
injuries. Because “Ski” already worked for the Charlotte Fire Department, he
was able to oversee Omar’s year-long application process.  This further established his role as a
lifelong friend and mentor to Omar.
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.

To support service members like Omar, please make a donation to Hope For The Warriors® this holiday season.

“Please support Hope For The Warriors® today by making a contribution that will help us sustain programs like Leadership Under Fire. Your donations give us the resources we need to continue to mentor and guide our heroes in transitioning to the next stage of their lives.”
–Joseph “Doc” Rimkus