Every year, thousands of veterans return to civilian life after years in the military. For many, the transition involves utilizing some of what they learned during their time of service and using it for the betterment of society and themselves. Education is a way to start this transition and it is what ties together the stories shared on this site. This site is a living depository of their stories and we hope to continue adding stories on an annual basis.

About the Creators

Photo of Dr. Joe Swaba

Dr. Joseph Swaba

Dr. Swaba served in the U.S. Army during his youth and has had a special place in his heart for veterans. As a veteran himself, Dr. Swaba understands the challenges that our veterans face. Coming from a humble background, Dr. Swaba was able to see firsthand how education in addition to his experiences in the military can help provide a ticket out of poverty. At GateWay Community College, he currently serves as a communication faculty and was able to recruit the veterans and spouse who’s stories are shared on BattleMarks.

Dr. Swaba worked one on one with the students in this project conducting a storytelling training to help them convey their stories. At GateWay and at the Maricopa Community Colleges, he is known as an advocate for veteran students and is involved in a myriad of initiatives to help provide a safe place for veterans on campus. Dr. Swaba holds a bachelor’s in professional communication from Metropolitan State University as well as a Masters in Education and a Masters in English. He also holds a Doctorate in Education and various academic certificates.

Photo of Carlos Samano

Carlos Samano, M.B.A.

Carlos served as the main creative force behind BattleMarks. He served as the video director capturing and editing the stories, as well as photographed the students for the project. Additionally, he worked with Colen Wilson, the web developer, to ensure the site provided an engaging experience that matched the depth of the stories shared by the students. He also worked with Dr. Swaba to interview the students whose stories are shared in BattleMarks.

Prior to starting his career in education, Carlos worked in the nonprofit field for six years where he learned firsthand the importance of storytelling. He holds a bachelor’s of Business Administration from Tec de Monterrey and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and has received various regional and national awards for his efforts in digital marketing.

Creative Team

Photo of Cindy Cooper Cindy Cooper
Operational Support
Photo of Elizabeth Curran Elizabeth Curran
Creative Support
Photo of Kaitlin Dickson-Powell Kaitlin Dickson-Powell
Second Camera Operator, Copywriter & Researcher
Photo of Zintia Gonzales Zintia Gonzales
Second Camera Operator
Photo of Tom Kaczor Tom Kaczor
Graphic Design
Photo of Chris Lambrakis Chris Lambrakis
Editing Support
Photo of Marissa Meza Marissa Meza
Graphic Design Support

Project Champions

Photo of Christine Kilbridge Christine Kilbridge
Library Faculty
Photo of Beth Malapanes Beth Malapanes
Library Faculty
Photo of Sharon Zygowicz Dr. Sharon Zygowicz

About the Supporters


This project was made possible with support from the Maricopa County Community Colleges Public Affairs Division and the Center for Civic Participation.

GateWay Library

The GateWay Community College Library currently provides a space for those interested in learning more about BattleMarks as well as a multitude of books regarding PTSD and other issues relative to veterans.

Contact Us

Have some feedback or questions about BattleMarks? We would love to hear from you.
Reach us at battlemarks@gatewaycc.edu