Member Spotlight: Aaron Ellingson

Aaron Ellingson - Member Since 2023

Veteran, U.S. Navy  (2008 - 2012)

 “I want to be that connection for someone. I want to extend my hand and invite someone to join in.”

Aaron Ellingson served as a Gunner’s Mate in the U.S. Navy until September 2012. Even though the Navy describes the job as overseeing all weaponry–”if it shoots, it’s your responsibility”--to Ellingson, one of the most significant jobs he performed was as a humanitarian servant. On March 11, 2011, an earthquake registering a 9.0 on the Richter scale–one of the most powerful earthquakes ever recorded–struck under the water about 80 miles east of Sendai in Japan. This caused a series of destructive tsunami waves that struck all along the Pacific Coast of Japan. “We were right there,” Ellingson says. The U.S. Navy immediately went in to assist as needed. It was both tough and rewarding for Ellingson. “I still think about some things during that time.” But to Ellingson, doing hard things, proving to himself that he can do more than he might have thought he could do, is good for his overall health.

He met Health4Heroes members at an event he was running at. “I got a pamphlet, but I didn’t talk to anyone there.” Yet, after he had signed up,  Health4Heroes CEO, NIck Dunagan contacted him. “We missed you at the event today,” he said. That was the connection that inspired Ellingson to join. “I want to be that connection for someone. I want to extend my hand and invite someone to join in.” After all, he contributes his successes in life to community and mentorship. “When you get out of the military, you are immediately isolated.” He says he imagines First Responders have the same feelings. But Ellingson wants to help Military, Veterans, and First Responders bridge that gap into a supportive community. To prove his commitment, Aaron Ellingson just became one of Health4Heroes first Chapter Captains.

A Chapter Captain basically takes the mission of Health4Heroes–“Building connections for those who serve our country”--and brings it home to the most local community. For Ellingson, that community is Windsor. His personal goal for the Windsor chapter is for the team to “meet you at your level.” If you have children, bring them along. If you can walk when others ruck, then do that. Ellingson wants to encourage members to do something different and connect. “‘Like iron sharpens iron’,” he says. “Being active, healthy and doing hard things together is good for our mental health.” He says he is 100% on board with the Health4Heroes focus. “Ultimately it’s on the person to go after their problem, but I'm standing ready to support and empower them along the way.”