Every Veteran has a story,
here’s mine…


My family has a history of military service. My father started his service at Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, SC in the 1950s. My father-in-law was an E-7 in the US Army during WWII. My uncles served in the US Navy, US Army, USMC and my cousin flew B-52’s during Vietnam for the US Air Force.

I attended Boys State at Ft. Meade, MD in 1982 and was bitten by the bug. After high school, I attended US Army ROTC and received my commission as a second lieutenant. Even though my initial training at Ft. Knox, KY and Ft. Bragg, NC were infantry intensive, I was looking to the future and branched Transportation Corps hoping to have a career on the sea, leading soldiers in the Army’s Watercraft units.

As we all know, life doesn’t work the way we plan. I quickly learned that when you join the military, you enter the “service” and therefore, you are assigned where you are needed, not what you want. This valuable lesson was vital in forming my character as a young officer.

513 TC Desert Storm 1991.jpg

Within the first year of Regular Army service, my unit was deployed from Ft. Lewis, WA to the deserts of Southwest Asia during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. Over that year we moved throughout the theater of operations including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Iraq. A highlight of a unit leader is bringing home all your soldiers in one piece, and I can proudly say that was one of my most significant accomplishments leading as an officer.

The fact that an enemy is actively shooting at you with the intent to kill is a bizarre realization. Experiencing combat first-hand gave me a higher level of appreciation for everything I have in my life.

I finished my time at Ft. Lewis serving as a battalion S2/3 training officer which laid the ground for my future. I served a total of eight years split between active duty and individual ready reserve. Time spent directly leading soldiers and serving on battalion staff were valuable assets to my formation as the man and leader I am today.


Looking back, it was the soldiers, NCOs, and officers who taught me about character, conduct, and competency around unit leadership and team culture. I wouldn’t trade those experiences, despite the many challenges that can arise when serving in the military.

I decided to pursue a Master in Teaching degree after departing from the Army, and I never looked back.

Today, I cross paths with fellow vets across all industries. It may be during formal training, chatting in line at the grocery store or connecting with a vet in a small group at church. I cherish my service to the country and acknowledge the legacy of honor forged by my family members before me.

The “core services” that Challenge Applications teaches are lessons-learned from my direct experience, not only from my time in the military, but also, time serving on school faculties, church leadership teams, special projects and networking with business partners around the country. Our philosophy is not strictly warrior-focused, yet I believe you need to think like a warrior to lead people using multiple methods and strategies based on the situation at hand.

I hope my personal story helps you decide to contact me. Great opportunities await those who choose to start an honest conversation. After all, I now understand the military motto “mission-first, people-always” actually means building better relationships matter even more than we ever realized.

All my best - Dan Ashe