To help illustrate Joe Klein’s August 29, 2011, story on how young war heroes are shaping the next generation of leaders in politics, business, and the non-profit sphere, TIME chose five veterans to feature on its cover. One of them, Paul Rieckhoff, first from right on the cover and CEO and founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), actually helped us find several veterans to highlight for this #TIMEVets project. Here, we catch up with the others:
Elizabeth Young McNally, 36 (center)
Then: After serving two tours in Iraq and writing speeches for General Petraeus, the Army veteran and Rhodes Scholar was working at McKinsey & Company in New York, serving clients in health care and the U.S. Government.
Now: She’s still at McKinsey, but is also on the Board of Visitors at her alma mater West Point.
“People were excited that this positive story was being told about veterans, and I was honored to be a part of telling this story on behalf of so many of my generation who have served and continue to serve.”
John Gallina, 35 (second from right) and Dale Beatty, 36 (first from left)
Then: The best friends who joined the North Carolina National Guard after high school and survived an attack on their humvee in Iraq—Beatty’s left leg had to be amputated below the knee—founded Purple Heart Homes two years prior to build accessible houses for disabled veterans.
Now: The organization is completing about two projects a month and has started Boots to Backyard, which pairs veterans with people who can mentor them about home ownership and life planning.
“Being on the cover of TIME gave us credibility. Before, Purple Heart Homes had produced 7 projects in 2 years. Since then, we have completed more than 40.” —Gallina
“The TIME cover brought our organization to the attention of veterans from wars other than Iraq and Afghanistan—Vietnam, Korea, and World War II. More veterans and their caregivers, family members, and neighbors started reaching out to us and saying, ‘Hey, there’s a vet who I know, Purple Hearts Homes can help him.’” —Beatty
Wes Moore, 36 (second from left)
Then: The Rhodes Scholar-turned-Army captain who served a combat tour in Afghanistan worked at Citibank, started a mentoring program for first-time criminals in Baltimore, and was developing educational-technology products for Oprah Winfrey. He also wrote a bestseller about a convicted murderer with the same name who grew up near him in Baltimore.
Now: He has produced a three-part PBS series following veterans’ reintegration into civilian life, has another book coming out in January, and is the CEO of BridgeEdU, a new approach to freshman year of college for not only veterans, but also students who are first generation and come from low-income backgrounds.
“One of my soldier friends called me up and said that he thought the cover photo was a fair portrait of who our military veterans are. Often times, when you see images of vets, you don’t see people of color, and you don’t see women.”