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CFK married student veterans, Airman Hope Kincaid and Marine Brandon Kincaid, are recognized for their service. “This Veterans Day, I encourage all to take a moment to reflect on the sacrifices that our service members bear for all Americans and for the principles of democracy.  Our heroes continue to serve in a variety of ways that benefit our communities.  I salute all of our veterans as well as current servicemen and women.  I express my sincerest thanks to them and their families for their dedication and commitment, and for their continued service to protect our freedom.

The Florida Keys and the College have indeed benefitted from the contributions of many veterans over the years.  Each one deserves special recognition.  Today, I salute two student veterans in particular, a married couple who are well-known on our campus for their academic involvement and achievement: Air Force Veteran Hope Kincaid and Marine Corps Veteran Brandon Kincaid.

The two met at an air show in 2009.  Hope, a Senior Airman Flight Medic, and Brandon, a Marine Corps Aircraft Loadmaster, were showing off their respective aircrafts.  As their story goes, Brandon was the only Marine brave enough to ask Hope to dinner and Hope put aside her “no Marines rule” and said “yes.”  It was love at first sight.  They married soon thereafter and made a home in North Carolina.  However, much of their newlywed life was spent apart as each continued to answer their numerous calls to duty.  They each spent months at a time in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Their deployments often took them to the same base camps, but never at the same time.

Their hard work was well recognized. Hope earned an Air Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, an Operation Enduring Freedom Medal, a NATO Medal, and a Basic Training Honor Ribbon.  While Brandon earned an Air Medal with Strike/Flight Ninth Award, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, three Presidential Unit Citations, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Global War on Terrorism Medal, a NATO Medal, and a Meritorious Mast Award for being the Academic Leader in Marine Combat Training.

Hope completed her six years of service in 2012.  Two years later, Brandon’s eight years of service came to a sudden end when a shoulder injury revealed a heart condition.  Following Brandon’s medical discharge, the two had to enter civilian life quickly.  They downsized all of their belongings and collection of rescue dogs into a tiny house, which they built themselves.  Then downsized further to a travel trailer, which took them down to the “end of the road”: their new home in Key West.

They chose The College of the Florida Keys to prepare for their next chapter in life, utilizing their G.I. Bills to support their educational expenses.  Hope is continuing her passion in the medical field by studying to become a nurse.  She has worked as a lab technician in CFK’s Nursing Department and is the president of the Student Nurses Association.  Hope is also a recipient of the VFW Post 3911’s Ed Moran Memorial Scholarship.  Brandon is pursuing a career on and in the water.  He is earning degrees in Marine Engineering, Management, and Seamanship as well as Diving Business and Technology and will begin the Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management in January.  He also works on campus as a Marine Engineering Lab Technician and is building a research vessel to test alternative energy equipment.  Both maintain 4.0 grade point averages and credit each other’s support and competitive nature for their high academic achievement.

This Veterans Day, Brandon will be supporting Hope as she leads CFK’s Student Nursing Association in sharing refreshments and gratitude with local veterans at the Veterans Day ceremony at Bayview Park.

It is with great honor that on this Veterans Day 2019, The College of the Florida Keys and I salute Air Force Airman Hope Kincaid and Marine Corps Sergeant Brandon Kincaid.  Hope and Brandon beautifully exemplify the determination, resilience, and grace of U.S. military families.  Thank you for your continuous service to our country, state, and community.  May such sacrifice, achievements, and generosity serve as an inspiration for all.”