John Paluska is a retired Army Green Beret, Purple Heart recipient, and served multiple combat deployments across the globe. He has formally studied four foreign languages including Russian and Arabic. Post military he co-founded two non-profits, one bridging the gap of the post-9/11 generation to remember and honor the events of September 11th, and the Special Operations Foundation, where his organization has helped rescue Afghan military members, fund demining & MEDEVAC operations across the Ukrainian/Russian war, and the org supports many other undertakings focused on camaraderie of the American spirit.
John was the youngest rescue & recovery volunteer at Ground Zero, when on September 11th, the 18-year-old freshman watched the second tower fall from his Fordham University dorm. John then boarded an empty subway southbound towards the pile, and immediately went to help where he found himself recovering the remains of multiple victims.
John shares his story of how that day changed the trajectory of his life, and led him towards enlisting in the military, earning his Green Beret with military deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other locations, and ultimately co-founding his non-profit organizations. Subsequently, John has flown back to the Middle East and Ukraine to fulfill many endeavors which his organizations support. He’s testified before congress advocating for Gold Star families’ and wounded military members’ benefits.
John medically retired from the military after serving nearly 15 years as both enlisted and officer. After his military Stryker vehicle struck an IED (EFP), he was peppered with over 160 pieces of shrapnel and left unable to talk for nearly three weeks. Through his recoveries, he continues to be an advocate for wounded military members and those who suffer from PTSD. He currently works at a publicly-traded leisure & hospitality company where he works in finance and leads the firm’s capital markets team. He is heavily involved with the company’s military veteran hiring and team member resource group where he serves as the executive sponsor.
John, a rural Iowa native, earned his BA from Fordham University and an MBA from Columbia Business School, where he was active in their Nonprofit Board Leadership Program. A former State Department intern and joint fellow with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation via U.S Special Operations Command. He also supports the Night Stalker Foundation as a fundraiser, is an ambassador to the Green Beret Foundation, and is a Founding Member of Special Forces Association - Chapter 58.