Sentinel Stories


“The Sentinels have been an amazing pillar of help and support to my family in the last few months. The financial aspects of the program are great, but the real benefit to being a Sentinel is knowing that if my family needs ANYTHING they are just a phone call (away). That peace of mind is priceless as we transition to our new lives.”

— Justin Avila

Justin Avila

Technical Sergeant, US Air Force
Lipscomb University, BS in Biology and Kinesiology
Belmont University, Masters in PT/Sports Medicine

Justin Avila joined the Navy at age 23, attending Quartermaster “A” school, where he learned the basics of maritime navigation.  During his service he completed deployments to South America, conducting counter-narcotics operations, and the Western Pacific before attending Naval Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewman (SWCC) training. Following training he was assigned to Special Boat Team Twenty. In April 2009 Justin screened for Naval Special Warfare Development Group.

In April 2011, Justin’s troop was conducting well deck operations with a Navy ship off the coast of Virginia. While securing his craft inside the ship, a large wave rolled though the well deck, Justin lost his footing and fell overboard.  The propellers of his boat were still turning; cutting both of his legs and severing the sciatic nerve on his left leg. He was medically retired in 2013 after 2 years of intense rehabilitation. 

Justin graduated from Lipscomb University in 2016 with a Bachelors Degree in Biology and Kinesiology. During his undergraduate studies Sentinels of Freedom introduced him to a team of mentors in Nashville, TN and provided financial assistance towards his housing costs. After completing his undergraduate degree, Justin continued his education at Belmont University with a Masters in Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine. He recently shared the great news with Sentinels of Freedom that he is now a Physical Therapist with DEVGRU at Dam Neck, VA. He resides in Frederick, MD with his wife Odemaris and their daughter, Sofia.

Sentinels Across America

Across our great nation, our Sentinels are building new lives for themselves and their families.