November 11 2021

Empowering Veterans Through Autonomous Flight

Mira Marquez

Whether they are family members, colleagues or next door neighbors, veterans are an integral part of every American community—and it is thanks to their selflessness and service that we are able to live in peace and liberty.  But what happens when our veterans return home? What does the next day, next week, or next year look like for those who transition from active duty to civilian life?

Resources for veterans have continued to expand, but there is still a substantial amount of work and research to be done to support men and women in uniform as they transition to civilian life.

Veterans play an incredibly important role in America's workforce but, for many injured veterans undergoing ongoing medical treatment well into civilian life, working a traditional 9-5 desk job can be difficult. Drones offer veterans with disability, injury, and invisible scars the opportunity to create a new professional path where they can work at their own pace and at a cadence conducive to their needs. More than 10% of Skydio's workforce are veterans—bringing an incredible work ethic, sense of duty and commitment to integrity from their time in the service that benefits our products and our customers. For these reasons, Skydio believes strongly in supporting our veterans using the resources at our disposal, which in our case are autonomous drones.

This year, in partnership with Wounded Eagle UAS and Semper Fi & America’s Fund, we're proud to honor our veteran community and announce the recipients of the first Skydio Vehicle Scholarship for disabled and injured veterans.

Wounded Eagle UAS is a consortium of Veterans and supportive civilians dedicated to helping wounded and disabled service members, Veterans and their families find pathways into the commercial drone industry through networking, mentorship and training, offering free eLearning and lectures provided through partnership with Mappix.

Semper Fi & America’s Fund is dedicated to embracing our Combat Wounded, Ill, and Injured active duty and Veteran Communities. The Fund is run by military spouses and former military members who have been in the trenches and know the needs of the families.

“Piloting a drone is more than a skillset, it can be a life enhancing experience. You're free to roam the skies and experience the joy of flight, where work is your play and money is the byproduct.” - Joseph Dorando, CEO, Wounded Eagle UAS

Drones “help to open up the world of aviation, and helped to unlock new careers for our Service Members. Through this scholarship, our Veterans have access to high-tech unmanned vehicles which can be easily operated, even by those who have service-connected injuries.” - Semper Fi & America’s Fund

For the scholarship, applicants submitted a personal essay sharing their story and how they planned to use the vehicle to further their civilian career.  The winning recipients were selected by Skydio’s own veteran community and each received a Skydio 2 Pro Kit complete with a 1-year subscription of our Autonomy Enterprise Foundation, 3D Scan, and 90-day access to our online Skydio Training Academy. Skydio is excited to welcome the following recipients into the Skydio family:

Skydio Vehicle Scholarship Recipients 2021

Ricardo Aguiar (Wounded Eagle UAS)
Sergeant, United States Marine Corp.

Melanie Brown (Wounded Eagle UAS)
E-4, United States Army and National Guard

Richard Hursh (Wounded Eagle UAS)
Sergeant E5 Combat Engineer, Army National Guard

Walter Brown (Semper Fi & America’s Fund)
Staff Sergeant, United States Army

Reuben Burton (Semper Fi & America’s Fund)
Sergeant, United States Marine Corp..

James Ouderkirk (Semper Fi & America’s Fund)
Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corp.

Skydio is honored to be able to support our veterans. Over the coming months, we’ll share each recipient’s story and dive into how these veterans are using the Skydio 2 to pursue new personal and professional opportunities. To all those who have served and currently are serving our country, thank you!