Dan Blakeley is a former U.S. Army Special Operations Ranger, who served with the 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. During his years of service, he deployed six times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Following eight years of service, Dan found himself suppressing his experiences in the military to ‘fit in’ to his new community of friends and coworkers.
After earning a double master’s degree at Appalachian State University, Dan began seeking ways to reconnect with the Veteran community. From personal experience and conversations with fellow Veterans, Dan knows all too well how difficult it is to find the “right” Veteran organization, not to mention finding one that provides purpose to those involved. He knew it wasn’t just coincidence when his friend, Beau Simmons, approached him about starting a project that would benefit Veterans. They had to capitalize on their experiences and create a platform to tell the stories of each Veteran: the good, the bad and the ugly.
Tom Amenta was born in Chicago, Illinois, and grew up in the area before enlisting, against his family’s wishes, in the United States Army on his 18th birthday. Following his five years as a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, including two combat tours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Tom earned his degree in political science from the University of Illinois.
Tom spent the next eight years as the COO of the Veteran lifestyle apparel company, Ranger Up. He pioneered the Veteran lifestyle apparel category and helped grow Ranger Up into the premier company in the space. While at Ranger Up, he passionately advocated for Veterans’ causes in many spaces, including lobbying Senate service committees. Leveraging the success at Ranger Up , Tom helped produce and starred in the only fully Veteran-produced Hollywood movie, “Range 15.” He is a passionate advocate for Veteran entrepreneurship and assisting Veterans in transition.
Beau Simmons is a fine art and documentary photographer who has specialized in Americana and Western lifestyle for over twelve years. His admiration and respect for those who have served all started when he was looking to join the Marine Corps, but his life took him into the field of photography. Dealing with a sense of guilt, he has always wanted to find ways to help support those who have fought for our freedoms.
After establishing his name in the fashion and celebrity industry and reconnecting with his childhood friend Dan, he found a way to focus his passion while supporting Veterans. With starting United Valor, he has dedicated his time to honoring the stories of our brave men and women, while shedding light on the physical and emotional stress of war.