The Defenders

Mark Stephens served his country for 21+ years in Army Special Operations. He now serves his fellow Nation’s Special Operations members and their families through Task Force Dagger Foundation, which is there for them when the government, the VA or other insurance isn’t.
Text by Sandy Lindsey | January 31, 2019 | People

“The sacrifice that my mates made for all of us reminds me daily to honor them by being the best version of myself I can be.”

The support that Task Force Dagger provides literally saves lives. “I’ve been in Special Operations from the very beginning of my career in the military,” says Mark Stephens, Executive Board Member. “In my line of work, you are constantly in positions and situations where your decisions directly impact our national policies and people’s lives. It’s a contrast when you separate from the military. It’s like going 150 mph for years and slamming on the breaks to a near stop. The transition back into civilian life can be challenging. We all need a mission, purpose and focus.” Stephens was also wounded numerous times. “I was lucky and recovered or was able to compensate each time,” he says. “Many others were not so lucky; it’s my therapy in a way. It’s doing something bigger than yourself.” Among their many initiatives, they hold signature events — such an upcoming dive event in the Florida Keys — that put families in a safe environment to reconnect and heal from deployments, effects from visible and invisible injuries and other challenges. Recently, instead of ending the event with a keynote speaker, they passed the microphone around. “You have a group of people who live a life of quiet professionalism and never ask for help,” he says. “We’ve heard emotional and moving testimonials from husbands, wives and kids; proof of the powerful and positive impact the foundation is having with these families.”;