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New York Film Academy Veterans
Veteran students film and act in an original desert scene


Col. Jack Jacobs speaks as part of the guest lecture series at NYFA

Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair of Veterans Advancement Program
Colonel Jack Jacobs Colonel Jack Jacobs, Chair of the New York Film Academy's Veterans Advancement Program, served in the U.S. military for more than 20 years and is considered a true American hero. Among our nation's most decorated soldiers, Colonel Jacobs was awarded the Medal of Honor — the nation's highest combat honor — as well as two Silver Stars and three Bronze Stars. His many service posts included work as a platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division, an executive officer of an infantry battalion in the 7th Infantry Division, and a commander of the 4th Battalion 10th Infantry in Panama. On two tours of duty in Vietnam, Colonel Jacobs served as an advisor to Vietnamese infantry battalions.

After leaving the military in 1987, Colonel Jacobs embarked on a successful career in the financial industry; he is currently the on-air military strategist for NBC and MSNBC. Jacobs was nominated for Emmys in 2010 and 2011, and received the distinguished Edward R. Murrow Award for his NBC segment "Iraq: The Long Way Out."

Colonel Jacobs holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Rutgers University, and entered the U.S. Army in 1966 as a second lieutenant through the ROTC program. A member of the faculty of the US Military Academy (WestPoint) and the War College, Colonel Jacobs taught international relations and comparative politics for three years.

Colonel Jacobs serves on a number of charitable boards of directors and is vice chairman of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. He holds the McDermott Chair of Humanities and Public Affairs at the US Military Academy. He has authored two books: memoir "If Not Now, When?" with Penguin in 2008, and non-fiction book "Basic" in 2012 with St. Martin's Press.

Los Angeles:

John Powers, Director, Office of Veterans Services
John Powers John T. Powers is a veteran's advocate who currently serves as the Director of Veterans Services at the New York Film Academy's Los Angeles campus. Powers received his bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Rhode Island and his master's degree from Rhode Island College. In his current position, Powers is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the veterans program at the Los Angeles campus. He also provides leadership to the New York Film Academy's Office of Veterans Services, which recruits, retains, and provides support services to veteran students.

Powers previously served as the co-founder and executive director of Student Veterans of America, a national coalition of student veteran organizations from college campuses across the country. He was also an advisory council member to the Military Family Research Institute. Additionally, in 2009, Powers formed the consulting company Operation Vets, working with more than 35 higher education institutions and college systems to develop programs to support veterans on campus. He has contributed to numerous grant review committees, and regularly presents at state and national conferences focusing on veterans' reintegration issues and education.

Eric Brown, Outreach Associate, Office of Veterans Services
Eric Thomas Brown Eric Thomas Brown was born and raised in Miami, Florida, and is a decorated Navy veteran, with deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). He is a graduate of the New York Film Academy in Acting for Film, and is a passionate veterans advocate. In Brown's current position as outreach associate, he is responsible for assisting in the coordination of NYFA's efforts to educate those currently serving in the United States military, veterans, and their family members, about the educational programs offered at the New York Film Academy.

Michael Kunselman, Veterans Coordinator, Office of Veterans Services
Michael Kunselman Michael Kunselman, originally from Mantua, Ohio, served seven years in the U.S. Navy as an air traffic controller. He was stationed onboard the USS Kitty-Hawk and at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. After being honorably discharged, Michael moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. Since arriving in Los Angeles, Kunselman has appeared in numerous indie short films, features, TV shows, plays, and commercials. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA.

New York City:

Christopher Paparis, Veterans Coordinator, Office of Veterans Services
Christopher Paparis After serving his country honorably in the United States Marine Corps, Chris completed an undergraduate degree in Jurisprudence and Economics at Montclair State University. Valuing the importance of the Post 9/11 GI Bill®, Chris takes a special interest in helping other service members and veterans maximize their earned benefits in advancement towards a successful future. He currently serves as the Veterans Coordinator/VA Certifying Official for the New York Film Academy.

South Beach, MIAMI:

Juan J. Duenas, Veterans Coordinator, Office of Veterans Services
Juan J. Duenas Master Sergeant Juan J. Duenas is the veteran coordinator for New York Film Academy, assisting with veteran benefits and services, job application and placement, homeless relief, pension, continuing education, vocational training opportunities, and special events in the city of Miami. Duenas was born on Dec. 28, 1957, in Matanzas, Cuba. From January 1977 to November 1979, he served with the 181 Military Police Company, attending boot camp at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Military Police school at Fort McClellan, Alabama.

Duenas retired as a Master Sergeant after more than 25 years in the United States Air Force Reserves. From November 1979 to May 2007, he served in the 482 Weapons System Security Flight at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida. He also served as a Security Police Member, conducting security protection of resources; was the Supply NCO for nine years; Mobility NCO for six years; and Training & Quality Control Senior NCO for eight years, training over 100 Security Police members in 32 subject areas.

Duenas’ many overseas deployments include Germany, England, South Korea, Turkey, and Brazil. In 1999 he was activated to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait for security and force protection. After 9/11, Duenas was called to active duty for two years to work with Central Command on Homeland Security issues. He has also deployed for humanitarian missions in El Salvador and for the Hurricane Katrina Disaster support efforts.

Since May 2013, Duenas has served as a committee member and was the volunteer coordinator for the First Homeless Veterans Stand Down for the City of Miami and The Florida Veterans Foundation, in partnership with community-based organizations within the Tri-County region; he directed 830 volunteers. He was also the Sergeant Major for Camp Hope.

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government website at

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