United States Army
Patrick Nelson from Eden Prairie, Minn., has so many honors it is impossible to list them all. The former paratrooper logged 39 months of combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan while serving nearly seven years of active duty in the Army. After being wounded in June 2005 by a rocket near the Pakistani border, Patrick returned to Afghanistan to continue fighting. For his service he was awarded Bronze Star Medal in 2008. Patrick was the first-ever recipient of the NFL-Tillman Scholarship, which, honors an individual who exemplifies Pat Tillman's legacy of service. He graduated magna cum laude from Minnesota State University in 2012. Since leaving the Army, Patrick started Real Combat Life, a nonprofit that offers vets an online forum to share their stories from combat. Patrick has volunteered for the Greater Mankato Tee It Up for the Troops golf event raising money for wounded veterans and their families, and recently started working with Minnesota businesses to help end veteran unemployment.