Mark A. George, Founder and CEO H3 Heroes Helping Heroes 4LIFE ~ 4 Heroes 4 Life
Mark George is a former USS Midway sailor and San Diego City Firefighter and Deputy Fire Marshal. As BOTH a Veteran and 1st Responder, Mr. George has experienced many challenges that have allowed him to fully embrace the needs and struggles of the Veteran community in his military town of San Diego. His father, Sr. Chief Gene I. George, was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Viet Nam. Mr. George grew up in military housing with his parents and three sisters in Moffatt Field, CA, Alameda, CA, and in the culturally diverse community of Linda Vista in San Diego, California, where he forged the bonds in his community of life-long friends.
A graduate of Stephen Watts Kearny High School, San Diego, California, Mr. George entered the United States Navy in 1978 and was stationed for 3 years in Yokosuka, Japan, aboard the USS MIDWAY (CV-41). USN AD2 George, M.A., earned several meritorious awards during his tour of service:
Navy Unit Commendation JAN 78~JUN 79 Meritorious Unit Commendation 13 NOV 79~08 FEB 80 Battle Efficiency Award 01 JUL 80~31 DEC 81 Navy Expeditionary Medals: APR~JUN 79, NOV 79~FEB 80, AUG~NOV 80, MAR~MAY 81
It was during this time as a young man, Mr. George experienced his first tragedy when in 1980, the Panamanian merchant ship, Cactus, collided with the boat, killing and injuring several sailors, damaging aircraft, and threatening an explosion on board from liquid oxygen tanks. Mr. George was the first to run to the scene and pick up a firehose, thereby effectively saving the boat and preventing many lives from being lost. This was a trauma of the first order, and one Mr. George did not perceive as such until many years later.
After his military service, Mr. George was trained and served the City of San Diego as a Firefighter and Deputy Fire Marshal for 23 years. Through his career, he was witness to many life-threatening scenarios, the most significant being the San Ysidro McDonald’s Massacre in 1984, one of his first calls as a rookie firefighter. It was the largest mass shooting in the country at the time; 21 people lost their lives, including children, babies, and a pregnant woman. These images remain forever etched in Mr. George’s mind. Many recent public tragedies of fires and mass shootings continue to be a trigger.
With the accumulation of tragedies and numerous on-the-job injuries resulting in 18 surgeries, Mr. George was forced into ending his career, as he unknowingly suffered from continuous trauma from PTSD, on top of chronic physical pain.
Through his journey, the sacrifices of behavioral and physical health took a toll on him emotionally and spiritually. He became indigent and homeless. He went through two failed marriages and the loss of his 5 children and several grandchildren. The pain became great enough to cause him to consider ending it all, as so many Veterans and 1st Responders have tragically succeeded in doing.
[WATCH INTERVIEW with MARK GEORGE on Suicide Risk]
Yet through the pain and tremendous struggle, Mr. George has prevailed by seeing himself not as a victim, but as a Hero. On his healing journey, Mr. George has been blessed to successfully complete a 4 month inpatient PTSD program at Menlo Park VA and Stanford University, a 2 year aftercare program with Veterans Housing San Jose, CA, and various PTSD research programs at Stanford University. His most recent program at University of Utah has completely healed his PTSD. He no longer suffers from PTSD but resides in PTG ~ Post-Traumatic Growth.
Mr. George is steadfastly dedicated to the mission to NOT allow another Hero and his or her family go through what he and his family have been through. He has dedicated his life to helping Homeless Veterans and Families and 1st Responders and Families achieve “Wellness on the Front Line” and overcome the challenges of 1st hand and 2nd hand PTSD and Suicide Risk. He is dedicated to helping homeless veterans and those in
distress seek and receive assistance with treatment, housing, and employment training. He is a strong advocate of Peer Support Training programs for all 1st Responders.
His Social Enterprise and nonprofit organization, H3 Heroes Helping Heroes 4LIFE, raises funds to support education and awareness, Peer Support Training, Homeless Outreach programs, and behavioral health studies, through community events and reaching out to businesses and the community with programs such as Recycle 4 Our Heroes.
Plans for Mr. George’s nonprofit include family bonding through building International Orphanages, publishing books and film documentaries, establishing charter schools for Social Justice and Social Enterprise, and the establishment of a Heroes Incubator for Veteran entrepreneurs.
Mr. George has fulfilled many roles as a community activist, social entrepreneur, and special events coordinator. He attended San Diego State University and was awarded a Certificate of Completion in Project Management where he studied models and worked to develop a complete “social enterprise” business plan before it even had a name. As a Social Entrepreneur, has developed and implemented several projects for social impact and managed eco-friendly projects, including Green Up California.
Mr. George is an honored member of SEA Alliance (Social Enterprise Alliance) Pave-A-Path program and completed the SEA Alliance Business Model Validation Impact Lab professional development course in Nashville in June, 2018. He continues to further his education as a subject matter expert in Social Enterprise through certificate courses such as Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp Certification, 2019, with the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Center for Social Innovation, and at Bunker Labs.
As a Deputy Fire Marshal in the City of San Diego, Mr. George coordinated the top Special Events in the City of San Diego. He worked directly with the NFL and the Super Bowl staff, the Republican National Convention and its staff, and directly with the Secret Service staff for two presidents. Mr. George worked directly with two World Police and Fire Games events, in both San Diego and Adelaide, Australia. He worked in conjunction with Junior Seau and Ladainian Tomlinson on events supporting their foundations and sat on the board of Terrell Davis’ Foundation. He has helped coordinate large-scale local events such as the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon, Comic-Con, ShamRock festival, Pacific Islanders Festival (PIFA), the OB (Ocean Beach) Street fair and several popular Street Scene events, as well as working directly with officials from the San Diego Zoo and Anheuser Busch Sea World.
Mr. George has served as a Little League coach in the community for several years and as a community organizer for many events through his church, coordinating high school reunion committees, for the San Diego State Alumni Association, and the San Diego Fire Department. He currently serves as Director of Mercy Worldwide at the Greater San Diego International Christian Church.
Years after his military service, Mr. George served on the board and was selected as one of 3 individuals to speak before the San Diego Coastal Commission to bring his beloved USS Midway to his hometown of San Diego as a museum after a 12 year fight. Mr. George is a lifetime member of the USS Midway Association, the American Legion, and the Veterans to Veterans Organization. In 2019, Mr. George humbly accepted the honor of being selected Veteran of the Year in the 79th Congressional Assembly District, Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D.
Through his life’s journey, Mr. George has risen to give back to his community ~ only because of faith, hope, and love ~ in a tireless effort to bring hope and healing to as many Veterans, 1st Responders, and Families as he possibly can. His life’s work is guided by the belief that we as human beings are more alike than different and we should treat each other as such.
“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” — Helen Keller
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