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Veterans Ben And Cresta Bateman Continue To Serve

on August 3, 2017 - 11:48am
Veterans Ben and Cresta Bateman of Los Alamos continue serving fellow warriors. Courtesy photo
 
Ben Bateman, left, with his forward observer on patrol in Iraq. Courtesy photo
 
Ben Bateman at a memorial for two of his comrades during his deployment in Ramadi, Iraq in 2007. Courtesy photo
 
By MAIRE O'NEILL
Los Alamos Daily Post
 

He served his country for eight and a half years as a commissioned officer in the U. S. Army, including three years as a Special Forces officer and a Green Beret. She spent seven and a half years in the Army as a Logistics Officer. So you would think that when Los Alamos couple Ben and Cresta Bateman finally got out of the service in 2013, they would have wanted to kick back a little, however, together they founded a non-profit organization called Sportsmen for Warriors, which has raised more than $3.5 million to help military and first responders – the “Warrior Community”.

The Batemans met at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Cresta was recruited from Los Alamos High School to play her beloved game of volleyball. After a significant injury, she had to step away from volleyball and joined the prestigious four-person Army Muleriders team. Mules have served as the mascots for not only the Academy but for the Army as a whole. Ben was one of her fellow team members and the rest is history.

During her Army career, Cresta deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She was commissioned from the Academy in 2006 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering Management and went on to obtain her Master’s Degree in Engineering Management from Missouri University of Science and Technology. Among the many Army awards she earned are the Parachutist Badge and the Pathfinder Badge.

Ben holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics from West Point. He received the Army's Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal with "Valor" device and the Army Achievement Medal for his service. Ben also earned the Special Forces tab, Ranger tab and Combat Infantryman Badge, as well as several other badges, medals and foreign devices.

After graduating from West Point in 2005, Ben initially served as an Infantry Officer after training at Fort Benning. Cresta, on the other hand went into airborne school.

Ben deployed during both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He was the first to be deployed when he left for Iraq on Cresta’s birthday in 2006. He was sent to Ramadi in Western Iraq before the Surge, during a “really bad time” when Al Qaeda was pushing the Sunni insurgence and forcing the sheiks into attacking the United States - or face punishment.

Cresta also was deployed during Operation Iraqi Freedom but was in Baghdad south of Sadr City. Ben got to see her twice – once when she was promoted to First Lieutenant and again on his birthday. It took three days to get from Ramadi to Baghdad.

The Batemans spent five and a half years out of their first seven and a half years apart, “high-fiving” each other as the Army sent them to different locations. The couple never complains about the hardship of being separated.

“We didn’t know anything different. We were used to it and it mattered to us to make it work. It never seemed like a struggle,” Cresta said.

When they got out in 2013, the couple said they missed the Army culture, fellowship and camaraderie as well as being a part of “something bigger than yourself”. After leaving the military, Ben endured many of the hardships faced by veterans leaving the service including finding employment despite his extensive leadership and combat experience. After eight months of job-searching he and Cresta joined Goldman Sachs in Salt Lake City, Utah.

While working there, Ben came to realize that the Warrior community needed an organization committed to tackling their problems. He and Cresta established Sportsmen for Warriors in 2014 and continue to dedicate their lives to honoring and serving veterans while expanding the capabilities and capacities of their organization.

“I had been doing stuff with non-profits for veterans and I realized I could do it better,” Ben said. “I believed in the saying, ‘It takes a Warrior to heal a Warrior.’

Sportsmen for Warriors uses the outdoors as their forum. The organization has taken veterans on what it calls enrichments such as pheasant hunting in Nebraska, a photography trip to Lake Tahoe, a great white shark dive at Guadalupe Island in Mexico and king salmon fishing in Alaska.

“We connect veterans with their own tribe – other Warriors – and help them to connect with their own individual issue. We help them to find out who they are now, find a level of responsibility in civilian life. We encourage them to find something they love and do it, to find the next mission and to set an example in their community. We also encourage them to get involved in veteran’s organizations and pay it forward,” Ben said.

The Batemans relocated to Los Alamos in September 2016 when Ben accepted a job at Los Alamos National Laboratory doing Construction Project Management. He and Cresta missed working in the National Security space and are looking forward to being a positive impact on the future of the Laboratory. They are still involved with Sportsmen for Warriors and Cresta is working at home while raising their four children.

Cresta’s family has been in Los Alamos since 1956 when her grandparents Mahlon and Ginny Wilson moved here. Her parents, Bruce and Stacy LeBrun live just down the road from them in White Rock. 

 

Cresta Bateman on a visit to West Point in 2010. Courtesy photo

Green Beret Ben Bateman in 2009 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Courtesy photo

Ben Bateman, right, and Cresta Batemen, center. at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey in 2004. Courtesy photo

Cresta and Ben Bateman with country musician and veteran Craig Morgan, far left, and Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha, far right, at a Sportsmen for Warriors event. Courtesy photo

Ben and Cresta at their White Rock home. Photo by Maire O'Neill/ladailypost.com


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