Mark Franklin, Junior
President, U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University
Mark was a junior in high school on September 11, 2001, and watched the attacks unfold live on television during his computer science class. His teacher, a senior non-commissioned officer in the Delaware Air National Guard, began composing his resignation letter as the second tower collapsed. The next day, Mark visited a local recruiting station, and attempted to enlist in the United States Army.
He was informed that he would have to wait until his 17th birthday, and even then, would need parental permission to enlist at that age. Determined to enter the military as quickly as possible, Mark attended the summer college program for high school students at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Following that program, and on the heels of his 17th birthday, Mark attended basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, having signed a contract to become an administrative specialist with an Army Reserve unit based in Delaware.
Upon returning to school to complete his senior year, Mark found himself disillusioned with the academic environment, and dropped out in October of 2002, returning to his Reserve unit. He received orders to go active Army and attend One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Ft. Knox, Kentucky to become a Cavalry Scout. He would later complete his high school education in 2005 by completing an adult education program.
Upon completion of OSUT, Mark deployed with 2-7 Cav, 1st Cavalry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF-II) in 2004, participating in operations in Baghdad, Najaf, and Fallujah. During that deployment, Mark was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
Mark's second deployment was to Afghanistan in 2006 with 10th Mountain Division. Shortly after his participation in Operation Mountain Thrust, Mark was again injured when the CH-47 he was traveling in went down on the border of Helmand and Kandahar provinces. Mark was evacuated by medevac to Germany, ultimately being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
After multiple surgeries and several months of physical therapy, Mark was given the option to re-class to an administrative position in the Army or to be medically separated from the military. He declined the administrative position and exited the Army on March 25, 2007.
Again finding himself at a point of disillusion, Mark embarked upon a month-long cross-country trip in his pickup truck, eventually settling in the coastal community of Coos Bay, Oregon, and later moving to Portland, where he used the Post-9/11 GI Bill® to become a certified paramedic. As a paramedic, he spent three years participating in mountain rescue operations throughout the Pacific Northwest. During this time, he also owned and operated a bar in Northeast Portland.
January of 2011 would see Mark returning to the East Coast, where he organized the largest domestic rally in support of the Egyptian Revolution, which took place in front of the United Nations on January 29. Ultimately, he decided to remain in New York, where he pursued his undergraduate degree, first at LaGuardia Community College, and later at Nassau Community College.
In the fall of 2013, Mark transferred from community college to the Columbia University School of General Studies to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in sustainable development. His primary focus is on green infrastructure and urban development. He currently sits on the Executive Board of the U.S. Military Veterans of Columbia University, serving as the organization’s President. His wife, Daria (Korol) Franklin, is a School of General Studies alumna and Executive Assistant to Jonathan Cole, the Columbia John Mitchell Mason Professor of the University, Provost Emeritus of the University, and Dean Emeritus of the Faculties. Upon graduation, Mark will assume a full-time position in New York City working for a profession services consulting firm.