JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A Tri-Cities veteran is using his skills honed during military service to launch a business, help other veterans and volunteer on hallowed ground for veterans all around our region.
“In 2003, I started my career as a teacher,” Ed Sheffey said. “Then in 2004, I went running for the front lines.”
Sheffey said war in the Middle East was a turning point in his life.
“The Iraq surge was picking up, and I saw it as a generational event,” he said. “And I thought to myself – if I didn’t participate and see what was going on first hand and contribute, I would regret it later. And that was my reason for joining.”
Sheffey joined the Army and deployed to Afghanistan from 2007 to 2008 where he worked as an engineer to clear roads of improvised explosive devices.
“Every day when you went out on patrol, you couldn’t be having a bad day,” he said. “You had to be on your toes and situationally aware all the time.”
Sheffey says the work taught him to lead and to value the power of a team, especially in the face of danger.
“We found dozens of IED’s, and a few of them did find us,” he said. I remember vividly three events when vehicles in our patrol were hit by IED’s.”
After 13 years of military service, Sheffey started his own business called Rowan Tree Service. When he’s not trimming trees, he’s helping veterans start their own businesses through an organization he founded called Veteran Business Leaders of the Appalachian Highlands.
“The mission is to connect veteran business owners with support and training to make their business successful,” he said.
Sheffey is using his skills through programs like “Saluting Branches” in which professional arborists donate their time to care for trees on veteran properties. Recently, he and others teamed up to donate services at the Mountain Home Veterans Cemetery in Johnson City.
For Sheffy, working with fellow veterans in a job that’s not for the untrained or uncareful and is just like old times.
“When you were having a bad day, we counted on each other and even though it was a dangerous job it was mitigated by the bond of soldiers I was patrolling with,” said Sheffey.