Top Influencers

The individuals listed below represent the most impactful influencers from 2019. These individuals are making positive changes and having a significant impact in the veteran and military space through their actions.

Dr. Nick Armstrong, Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University

Dr. Nick Armstrong is the Senior Director for Research and Evaluation at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University. In his 16 years at Syracuse University, Dr. Armstrong has provided program leadership, applied research, and evaluation experience in a broad portfolio of projects with IVMF partners on a variety of topics that are important to the veteran population, such as  higher education, employment, entrepreneurship, service delivery, and public policy. Not only is Dr. Armstrong overseeing high-quality academic research aimed at empowering and improving the lives of veterans and military families, but he is a thought leader and convener who has proven success in synthesizing research and resources to create and deliver veteran services and programs. Most recently, Dr. Armstrong led the development and co-directed the new Veterans Program on Politics and Civic Engagement, a partnership between, IVMF, the Maxwell School and JP Morgan Chase. Dr. Armstrong is considered a subject matter expert in the field of veteran research.  

Dr. Armstrong is a U.S. Army veteran who served as a Ranger-qualified artillery officer with deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia. He held several leadership and staff positions at the platoon, battery, and battalion levels throughout his service including serving as speechwriter to the 10th Mountain Division’s commanding general and aide-de-camp to a division deputy commanding general. He received his Ph.D. and M.P.A. degrees from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and his B.S. in Engineering Management from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.


Jason Beardsley, Senior Advisor and Veterans Service Organization Liaison, Office of the Secretary and Deputy, Department of Veterans Affairs

Jason Beardsley joined the United States Navy in 1990, the Army Special Operations Forces in 1994 and the Joint Special Operations in 2005. He has been deployed to Iraq, Africa, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He is an expert in military intelligence, diplomatic security, foreign internal defense, unconventional warfare, and counterterrorism. He served as a special operations adviser for Concerned Veterans of America, whose goal it to advocate for policies that will preserve the freedom and prosperity that veterans and their families have proudly fought and sacrificed to defend. Currently, he serves as a Senior Advisor and Veterans Service Organization Liaison, of the Office of the Secretary and Deputy at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Additionally, Beardlsey is the CEO of the Underground Movement, an apparel company that sells patriotic t-shirts featuring icons of American history like George Washington and Paul Revere. Beardsley currently resides in Ohio with his wife and three kids and is often found on news networks like Fox News and CNN, as a commentator.


Mike Quinn, 2x LinkedIn Top Voice

After completing his over twenty-year Army career, Mike Quinn found himself in the same position as many transitioning service members, struggling to translate his diverse and exceptional skillsets to civilian employers. He overcame that challenge and emerged from that experience dedicated to being a tireless advocate for his fellow transitioning veterans. He founded HireMilitary to help military members take advantage of the DOD Skills Bridge program, an opportunity for military members within 180 days of separation to gain private sector experience. Mike’s prolific use of Linkedin to connect veterans led to the platform naming him a LinkedIn Top Voice in 2018 and 2019. He generously gives his time to share his expertise and help teach service members across the United States establish a brand and then use LinkedIn as a tool to build a network to find employment. Additionally, he has been working within his current employer, EY, on expanding their Veterans program to not only open more opportunities but also ease the transition into the company. His efforts have directly and indirectly assisted innumerable Veterans find post-service employment.


Kristin Beck, author and advocate

Kristin Beck served in the United States Navy from 1990 to 2011, when she retired as a Senior Chief Petty Officer and Navy SEAL. Over the course of two decades of service, she fought in the Balkan civil war, the first Gulf War, the Horn of Africa, in advance of the 2003 invasion into Iraq, and she spent a cumulative several years in various small outposts in Afghanistan while also executing solo missions along the Pakistan border. She’s earned the Bronze Star with Valor, the Purple Heart, the Meritorious Service Medal, and numerous other medals, ribbons, and devices commensurate with a lifetime of selfless sacrifice in service to our great Nation and the ideals for which it stands. She has since gone on to become an author, writing a book entitled Warrior Princess which details her memoirs, struggles, and journey as a Navy SEAL coming out as transgender. Without question she has set a courageous and visible example for countless others who may be feeling and struggling similarly while at the same time being a staunch advocate at the national level in these issues. She is the founder and president of the Mindful Valor Foundation, created to educate and promote the recognition of traumatic events affecting personal development, well-being, adjustment and the fulfillment of a well-balanced, rewarding life. She is also part of Left of Bang: The Gun Violence Prevention Working Group, and she serves as a National Veterans Advocacy Officer at Military Order of the Purple Heart.


Ashlynne Haycock, TAPS

Ashlynne Haycock was instrumental to the effort to axe the widows tax, marshaling the efforts of dozens of others across multiple organizations. She stormed the Hill, met personally with countless members of congress and/or their staff representatives, and participated in numerous media outreach/press conference efforts to bring attention to this issue. After decades of little to no progress, Ashlynne took charge and achieved definitive results, to the benefit of innumerable Gold Star families both current and future. The impacts of her efforts will be felt for decades to come.