Bellevue University’s Wade Jensen: Adversity Toughens Manhood
By Dan Sheridan
“Adversity toughens manhood, and the characteristic of the good or the great man is not that he has been exempt from the evils of life, but that he has surmounted them.” Patrick Henry
The battle was hot. Bullets were flying everywhere, whizzing over their heads, and ricocheting off the desert rocks. An enemy round struck the Marine in the right shoulder, it exited out the left side of his neck, and he fell to the ground. A few moments later, he got up, fought on, and led his men away alive. Within 24 hours, still in pain and his wounds barely beginning to heal, the Marine checked out of the hospital, reunited with his men, and then proceeded to lead the unit through more engagements.
Jensen was born in a small farming community about 100 miles west of Bellevue, Nebraska. At the age of 13, he was involved in a horrible motorcycle accident which nearly cost him his leg and was told that he’d never be physically the same again. Jensen, who isn’t the type to be told he can’t, rehabbed himself becoming even stronger than he was before.
In 1990, Jensen joined the United States Marines. The same naysayers who said he’d never recover from his accident now tried to discourage him warning him that he’d never survive boot camp. Instead, Jensen served in the Marines for 21 years, and the naysayers were silenced again.
During his military career, Jensen led many service men into battle, especially post 9/11, and earned the Purple Heart medal. After serving honorably, he retired as a First Sergeant in 2011.
“I was born to do this,” says Jensen summing up his military career, “every decision I made, and everything I did was because I believed it was the right thing to do.” Jensen still keeps in touch with his military colleagues. “I believe it’s still part of my job to keep an eye on them, and they know if they ever need anything, if they shoot up a red star cluster - which means emergency, I will drop whatever I am doing to be there for them.”
Jensen retired from the U.S. military on a Friday and started a new job as a federal police officer at Offutt Airforce Base the following Monday. While serving as a police officer, Jensen went to Bellevue University to pursue his bachelor’s degree.
“One day while I was at Bellevue University,” explained Jensen, “I saw a friend of mine who filled me in about a guy on campus who kept talking about a veterans’ center. Having led and taken care of my unit in battle, I was skeptical and tired of businesses rolling out the carpet for veterans and pretending they were ‘veteran friendly.’ So I decided to go visit this center, but I went with a big chip on my shoulder thinking it was another sham.”
“It was an April day, 2013, when I walked into the center,” Jensen continued. “I heard someone in an office talking on a phone, but there was nobody else there. I smelled coffee, so I helped myself, and then sat down to read a paper. Then the guy steps out of his office, points his finger at me, and says, ‘Hey, I’ve been waiting for six months for this to happen. I’ve been waiting for a veteran to come in here, drink my coffee, sit in my chair, and read my paper. My name is JR, how are you?’”
JR was Jerome Richardson, Director of the MVSC. Richardson, after sharing his vision for the Military Veteran Service Center, convinced Jensen the center was sincere in its mission and unique. Richardson recognized something special in Jensen, and believing he’d be a perfect fit to help get the new MVSC off the ground, offered him a job on the spot. Jensen accepted immediately. “It was the most spur of the moment thing I ever did,” says Jensen, “especially since my wife Heather and I now had a newborn, but I took the position because it was the right thing.”
Jensen helped Richardson with the grand opening, assisted in many other ways, and then, on March 1, 2016, became the Manager of the MVSC. “This is where I am,” says Jensen, “and this is where I’ll be until the right thing is to do something else.”
Meanwhile, Jensen continued his education at Bellevue University earning his Bachelor of Science in Management of Human Resources and then a Master of Science in Organizational Performance. “When I started going to school there were the same naysayers once again,” says Jensen. “They told me I was too old to go to school and that I should just get a part-time job instead. Their objections fueled me to prove them wrong – again! That’s what warriors do. The warrior sees the threat, seeks it out, destroys it, and moves on.”
If Wade had listened to the naysayers at any point in his life, he would not be where he is today. Countless veterans who shot up a red star cluster would have gone un-rescued, left behind on their transitional battlefield in their hour of need. Those years of overcoming adversity only toughened Wade, made him a better person, more understanding and compassionate.
“I am here at the MVSC,” says Jensen, “to help a student or transitioning military member surmount whatever barriers are before them so that he or she can create their own path.” Spoken like a compassionate man who has surmounted barriers of his own.
Stop on in at the MVSC and see Wade. Piece of advice - never tell him he can’t do something – he’ll prove you wrong.
For more information about the Military Veteran Service Center: http://www.bellevue.edu/prospective-students/military/military-services-center