Kyle Evans planned on a long career in the military, until a few sticks of dynamite put an end to that dream. The explosives, Evans remembered, “blew up directly under my feet” as he traveled by Humvee through Mosul, Iraq, in 2007.
The Army staff sergeant survived but sustained a traumatic brain injury that put an abrupt end to his deployment. He left Iraq and in 2010 retired from the military. Evans, a Virginia native, returned to civilian life with a purple heart medal—and grim career prospects. He took a low-paying job in Orlando working for the Department of Veterans Affairs, but he knew he wanted more. It was time for a new dream, one that meant going to college.