A former U.S. Army Ranger found a way to extend his honor after leaving the uniform behind — thanks to one organization that provides structure, guidance and a winning path forward for America's heroes.
Yuma Barnett of Georgia went through The Honor Foundation's program — and told Fox News Digital in an interview that it would not be "an overstatement to say that it changed my life."
Many thousands of other American veterans with U.S. Special Forces backgrounds have a fighting chance to take their significant military experience and turn it into success on the civilian side with the help of The Honor Foundation (honor.org), headquartered in San Diego, California.
The national nonprofit has multiple locations and a digital presence to serve America's former military all over the country.
Barnett, a husband, father of four and entrepreneur, said he learned about the program through colleagues who were also transitioning out of the service when he was — transitioning specifically out of the Special Ops world.
The Honor Foundation was created exclusively for the U.S. Special Operations community — which numbers some 60,000 individuals in this country.
"We provide a clear process for professional development and a diverse ecosystem of world-class support and technology," the group notes on its website.
"Every step is dedicated to preparing outstanding men and women to continue to realize their maximum potential during and after their service career."
Today, Barnett is owner of Barnett Multimedia, a business that offers photography, videography, custom art and livestreaming for an array of clients.
He said he'd previously transitioned out of the military in 2004, then came back in after a short time away.
"I had such a terrible transition" the first time around, he said — this was prior to The Honor Foundation — "that I knew that the second time, I had to do something more to be successful on the other side of the uniform," he said.
"I wanted to go through The Honor Foundation's program so that I could set myself up for greater success this time," he said.
When he got into the program "and saw what it was all about — it's not an overstatement to say it changed my life," he revealed.
Barnett grew up in New Mexico, "on a cattle ranch, in the middle of nowhere."
He joined the Army "straight out of high school," he said. "So I was used to being part of a team. In high school, I was part of a team, the basketball team. Then, when I joined the military, I was a part of team" for more than 20 years, he said.
On May 1 of last year, when he left the military, "it just ended" — just like that, he said. "I was no longer part of a team anymore," he said.
Instead, like so many others who leave the military at some point, he was suddenly now on his own in the civilian world, essentially by himself.
"When you leave the Special Operations world, they take your badge away, you leave and you walk out the door — you can't even get back in the building anymore."
So, "I went to The Honor Foundation for help with the transition. And while they say it's a transition program — at the end of the day, it's really a life-changing program. It helped me understand who I was without the uniform."
What sets it apart, he said, "is that they hold their co-hort members accountable."
Barnett revealed, "if you don't show up for class, if you don't participate, if you don't do the work — they're not going to let you graduate from the program."
Importantly, said Barnett, for years he'd "been a quiet professional in Special Ops."
And The Honor Foundation "helped me understand that I could share my story, share the stories of my service — and that these stories and experience had value if I knew how to share them with potential civilian employers and apply them to my resume and on job interviews."
Today, as his website about his business, Barnett Multimedia, notes, he has "changed his view from the scope of a rifle to the viewfinder of a camera."
Matt Stevens, CEO of The Honor Foundation and a retired U.S. Navy SEAL, told Fox News Digital in a phone interview, "The one thing I want people to know about The Honor Foundation is that our impact isn’t limited to the program we provide to the service members who are transitioning out of their military posts."
Rather, he said, "we’re strengthening their families, we’re infusing our communities with servant leaders — and we’re enriching the workforce with talented entrepreneurs, executives, creatives and visionaries."
The program, he added, "creates a sequence of positive change all around the people we serve — and it is a direct reflection of their special military service and the hard work they do with THF to find a clear, impactful way forward."
Stevens also told Fox5 in Washington, D.C., in a recent interview, "We help them figure out what makes them tick as humans, and what's going to make them happy when they have true choices again."
Stevens said that often, members of this highly experienced community "don't like talking about themselves — and they go back to what they know vs. what's going to make them happy, when they do truly have choices. We put the tools there so that they can figure it out."
He also noted that there "is a psychological benefit to going through a transition program with your brothers and sisters from the same background."
Stevens served as Navy SEAL for 26 years. He transitioned out in 2017 — and personally saw the benefits that The Honor Foundation offered.
"I believe in its entire enterprise and process so deeply that I wanted to be a part of it and continue to serve those who will make the transition in the future," he said on the group's website.
Said Stevens, "The end of one’s military career is just the beginning of many new opportunities!"
Jason Hunt, U.S. Navy SWCC (Ret.) and an Honor Foundation alumnus, as well as his wife, Jesi Hunt, a U.S. Navy SWCC spouse and director of impact for The Honor Foundation, told Fox News Digital via email, "As a family, transitioning out of the military can be confusing, uncertain and full of anxiety. The Honor Foundation provides not only the resources, but the community that is necessary to navigate the process with confidence and clarity."
The couple also said, "It helped us create a vision for our future and also gave us the means to realize that vision. The connections that we forged during our time with The Honor Foundation will last our whole lives — and have given us a whole new tribe to belong to."
As of December 2022, The Honor Foundation has over 1,800 graduates.
With the somber Memorial Day holiday just up ahead — a time when America remembers all those who have served our nation so selflessly — Kelly McGraw, THF's vice president of impact and a Special Forces spouse, told Fox News Digital, "The Honor Foundation remembers and honors all of the Special Operations Forces warriors who boldly and selflessly heeded the call to serve our nation."
She added, "While our mission is to transition SOF veterans to a fulfilling next mission after the military, we recognize that there are friends and teammates who should be standing alongside us in our classrooms."
She went on, "Memorial Day gives us an opportunity to pause and commemorate their sacrifice and the enduring strength of our Gold Star families. We more passionately pursue our mission in their honor."
Anyone wanting to learn more about the important work of The Honor Foundation — which helps serve others "with honor for life so their next mission is clear and continues to impact the world" — can visit the group's website, honor.org.