This week’s Ally & Andy American Warrior is Ben Keen. Ben is an information technology professional with skills covering many different disciplines as well as an advocate for Veterans who have served in support of this nation’s latest operations in the war against terrorism. Currently residing in Pittsburgh, PA; Ben grew up with his parents in several towns in Pennsylvania graduating from Pequea Valley High School in 1999.
Upon completion of high school, he enlisted in the United States Army as a communication expert. Completing his basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina and his advance individual training at Fort Gordon, Ben’s tours of duty include Germany, Korea, Fort Campbell, Kentucky and Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Ben has completed multiple combat deployments including being part of the initial invasion in Iraq as a member of the Army’s prestigious and historic 101st Airborne Division in March 2003. Ben served on a small team of communication experts whose mission it was to provide the critical voice and data communications required for a successful mission to the commanders and planning staff.
After receiving his honorable discharge in January 2008, Ben relocated to the Pittsburgh area and started his transition to the corporate IT environment successfully gaining employment first as a contractor with Del Monte Foods at their North Shore location as a Help Desk analyst. Ben continued to development his knowledge by working with such companies as Betchel Bettis Nuclear Research Center as a contractor, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC as a contractor, K&L Gates LLP, Electronics for Imaging, AAA – East Central as a contractor, and he continues to work within the Information Technology field. However, Ben’s transition from military communications expert to civilian information technology expert was not as easy as others.
Ben not only found himself looking for meaningful employment but found himself combating the ghosts of combat after being diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2005 and returning home to several family and personal issues. After combatting a struggle with alcoholism, in 2010 Ben took the lessons he learned and the advice given to him by creating and organizing Steel City Vets (SCV) (steelcityvets.org), a Pittsburgh-based social gathering organization with the objective of finding and connecting with the nearly 50,000 Post 9/11 Veterans that call the Pittsburgh region home. The mission of Steel City Vets has grown from just a social gathering organization to an organization working alongside other non-profits organizations and for-profit companies, including local staffing agencies, to provide employment assistance to returning Veterans including helping Veterans with the critical resume writing, interview preparation and networking all in attempt to connect the highly skilled and motivated with employers within the Pittsburgh area.
Ben is the father of two children, his son Reilly is 10 years old and is active in baseball as well as in social activities such as Cub Scouts of America. Ben’s daughter is 9 years old and is active in softball and dance. In Ben’s limited spare time he serves as the Vice President of the Veterans Support Foundation which is a national foundation that provides housing to homeless Veterans from all conflicts in the New Haven, Connecticut area and enjoys riding his bicycle along all the beautiful trails and hills in the area. Lastly, Ben enjoys capturing special memories as a photographer.
Ben has been featured in such publications as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the Pittsburgh Business Times, as well as on People’s Magazine’s website People.com. He has been invited to join sister station Newsradio 1020 KDKA as a guest expert to discuss several different and important topics that not only impact this area but impact Veterans on the national and global level.
Ben has received multiple awards while in the military and as a civilian. Most recently, he was awarded the 2016 American Staffing Association’s National Staffing Employee of the Year for both is professional accomplishments and his work with Veterans.
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