Our Staff

Our Staff

Our team is made up of a diverse group of professionals with a wide range of expertise in nonprofit management, fund development, program development and evaluation, financial management, technology solutions, communications strategies, and event management, and more.

John W. Turner : Founder and Senior Advisor

John W. Turner

Founder and Senior Advisor

John Turner served in both the U.S. Coast Guard (1992-1996) and the U.S. Army (2003-2007), where he deployed to Mosul, Iraq with the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, which was extended and reassigned to Baghdad in 2006.  He rose to the rank of Captain, was awarded the Bronze Star for exceptionally meritorious service, and was recognized by best-selling author/journalist Robert Kaplan (Imperial Grunts) in two published articles as a future leader in America.

In between his Coast Guard and Army service, he attended IUPUI and graduated from Purdue University with a business degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, perhaps the perfect training for overseeing the development of a residential facility with food service, recreational and other complex components.

Born and raised in Indiana, Turner settled here in North Carolina following his military service.  He saw a desperate need, put together a small group of like-minded young vets, and began work on solving the terrible problems so many 21st Century war veterans were having coping with traumatic stress and other service-related disabilities.  His vision was clear: a self-reliance program built around temporary housing combined with a battery of services to restore, re-educate and reintegrate the heroes who had stood in harm’s way for America, and now needed help in finding a constructive and personally-satisfying role in civil society.  He quit his job and dedicated himself full-time to pursuing his vision.

He and his group worked tirelessly to build the bi-partisan political and community support that would be needed to make their plan a reality.  John’s persistent and tenacious advocacy won over converts and wore down opponents.  Starting with no money and no political contacts, he earned the confidence of governmental leaders and institutional donors and won the support of concerned people wherever he encountered them.

Now these efforts are nearing the climactic moment when the Veterans Life Center will become a reality, and assume its role as the largest and most comprehensive program in North Carolina dedicated to serving at-risk 21st Century era veterans.

On March 28, 2019, John received the Daughters of the American Revolution Medal of Honor, the highest award offered by that national patriotic organization.

Thomas Gorry : Executive Director

Thomas Gorry

Executive Director

Thomas Gorry earned his Bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a collegiate wrestler. He went on to receive multiple advanced degrees, including a PhD from Walden University. In May 2013, Gorry was inducted into the NCAA National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

A 32-year veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Gorry served as a strategic planner at the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany, and as Commanding Officer of the Multi-function Logistics Organization in Okinawa, Japan. He deployed to Afghanistan in 2009, managing Title X responsibilities for US Forces in Operation Enduring Freedom. Returning to the US, he became Director of Marine Corps Command and Staff at Quantico, VA.

He was then named Commanding General of all Marine Corps Installations on the East Coast. Based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, he served as the Base Commander of Camp Lejeune, and as the Chair of the North Carolina Commanders Council, engaging with the North Carolina General Assembly on military family and readiness issues. Gorry was admitted by the Governor of North Carolina into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine for his extraordinary service to the state.

Brigadier General Gorry then became Commandant of the Dwight D. Eisenhower School, a Washington, DC area executive level college that awards a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy.

General Gorry’s final assignment in the Marine Corps was as President of the Marine Corps University, an academic institution that provides professional military education and training through resident and distance learning programs to 72,000 students annually across campuses worldwide.

Jay Bryant : Communications Director

Jay Bryant

Communications Director

Jay Bryant served as assistant to the late Illinois Governor Richard Ogilvie, and worked as a speechwriter and ghostwriter on both sides of Capitol Hill. He was President of Bishop, Bryant and Associates, a Washington, DC advertising firm prior to merging it into Research/Strategy/Management (RSM). He came out of his retirement in North Carolina to serve as communications director of the Veterans Life Center.

He attended Northwestern University on a full academic scholarship from General Motors. Under the personal sponsorship of Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, he received an H.B. Earhart fellowship for graduate study.

He has been a commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. His articles and commentaries have also been featured in numerous magazines and newspapers and on many leading websites including TownHall.com and RealClearPolitics.com. He has taught courses in communications at American University and the University of Maine, served as moderator of the Capitol Hill Workshop, and lectured throughout the country and on cruise ships. He is the author of two novels, The Sugar Rat, with Gregory H. Bohlen, and Earth and Water.

Joyce Kohn : Development Consultant

Joyce Kohn

Development Consultant

Joyce is a strategic communications consultant with over twenty years of executive-level experience. She has specialized expertise in the areas fundraising, sales, marketing and public relations, leadership development and special events. Joyce has also served as a volunteer in a leadership capacity on various nonprofit initiatives.
Kohn Associates has an established footprint in North Carolina, where it has managed numerous fundraising and public relations projects for its clients in both the for-profit and not-for-profit sectors.
Joyce has a B.S. from East Carolina University.

David Robinson : General Counsel

David Robinson

General Counsel

David Robinson acts as general and legal counsel for the Veterans Life Center.  An attorney with Nexsen Pruet in Raleigh, he is also the current Honorary Consul for Japan in NC, an adjunct member of the Campbell University Law School faculty, chairs the Consular Corps in North Carolina, chairs or serves on a half dozen non-profit boards, provides pro bono assistance to a number of charitable groups, and is the Chief Legal Officer for Investor Services Company of America, a Raleigh-based FINtech company.

David’s undergraduate degree in Foreign Service is from Georgetown University and his JD degree is from the George Washington National Law Center. He has traveled to 54 countries and has served clients in cross-border transactions around the world. He has received North Carolina’s highest honor for the practice of International Law and has twice chaired the International Law Section of the NC Bar Association.He is currently serving on the Haiti Committee, responsible for assisting with the re-drafting of that country’s business and commercial laws.

He is a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, a Fellow of the NC Institute for Political Leadership, and a Trustee of Wake Technical Community College.  He is a member of an award-winning race car team and is an active triathlete. He competed for Team USA at the World Triathlon Championships in Beijing and Edmonton, and recently qualified for the 2018 Team USA aquathlon competition in Denmark.


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