The Stronghold Freedom Foundation was founded to address the toxic exposures of military veterans who were deployed to Karshi-Khanabad, Uzbekistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. The Foundation's mission is to bring awareness to the long-term effects of exposure to toxins that were unknown at the time. We do this by raising awareness of the dangers our veterans were exposed to in their daily lives. The Foundation then utilizes strategic partnerships to help veterans deal with the effects of those exposures.
Terrorists attack the US
US Forces arrive at K2
The last US Troops Leave K2
Mike West and PJ Widener form the Facebook group
Mike West dies from K2 related cancer
Tara Copp writes her first article on K2
HR 5957 is introduced by Rep Mark Green and Rep Stephen Lynch
Stronghold Freedom Foundation becomes a 501(c)3
Additional legislation is introduced
Abby is a K2 Veteran and a member of our legislative team.
Special Projects/Family Care Team
Natalie is the surviving spouse of Clayton White, who died of a K2 related illness. She heads up our special projects and is on our Family Care Team.
Family Care Team
Samantha is the wife of K2 veteran Brian Fausett and is part of our Family Care Team.
Omar Hamada, LTC,MD, MBA, USA
Dr. Hamada is a K2 Veteran and our Medical Advisor.
Founder, Executive Director
PJ Widener s a retired US Air Force Master Sergeant. He is one of the founders of our Facebook group and serves on our Board of Directors.
PJ is a K2 veteran who was among the first 'boots on the ground' at K2 and spent almost two years at the base in Uzbekistan, He has been concerned about the conditions there since day one.
PJ's work with K2 veterans dates back to 2012 when he and Mike West started the Facebook group. It is through his leadership that the organization has grown in order to keep the promise made to Mike and other veterans.
Board Chair, Deputy Director
Sarah Puerner is an Army Veteran and former First Responder. She was one of the first spouses admitted to the Facebook group to help with research.
Sarah's husband was an aircrew member who spent a considerable amount of time at K2 and who has some effects from his time there.
Sarah joined the Stronghold Freedom Foundation Team to help build the organization from the ground up, and help us become a nonprofit. With the help of an amazing team, she gets the job done for the veterans of K2.
Board Member, Legislative Director
Mark T.Jackson is an Army K2 Veteran and currently serves as a Federal Agent. He spent about ten months at K2 from July 2003 through April 2004.
In the years since he has endured a variety of rare diseases unique to K2 deployers. Mark thought he was alone until a friend invited him to the Facebook page in December 2019.
Mark holds a master’s degree from Boston University and has served with the Department of defense for nearly 25 years.
Mark joined the Stronghold Freedom Foundation out of a strong desire to serve those with whom he served. With the help of a talented and growing group of volunteers, Mark leads the SFF Legislative Team.
Board Member, Family Team/Surviving Spouses Director
Kim Brooks is an educator and advocate of veterans. The surviving spouse of Lieutenant Colonel Timothy P. Brooks, US Army, d. May 29, 2004, and the mother of four children, Kim advocated before members of Congress on behalf of K2 veterans and their families on February 27, 2020.
She joined the board of Stronghold Freedom Foundation in June 2020 as the Family Care Team and Gold Star Families liaison.
A proud member of this team, she shares in the commitment to get recognition and benefits for K2 veterans and their families.
Board Member, Membership Director
David Puerner is a retired US Air Force Loadmaster. As an aircrew member, he spent almost two years flying through K2.
David, who flew with Mike West, has been working to help K2 veterans in the Facebook group since 2012.
He joined the staff of the Stronghold Freedom Foundation as the Membership Director in August of 2020 to reach out to individual members to help determine their needs.