'This is my safe haven': war veteran turned business owner thrives behind barber's chair

ABC7 News | Jay Korff | June 28, 2021 | Link to Article

“Everything that walks through that door I got to know how to cut," says Jordan from his chair in the back of his business, Up North Kutz.

Marines, regardless of their rank or retirement status, also take pride in knowing how to improvise, adapt and overcome. For this former Marine sergeant, overcoming the horrors of war and loss brought him to the barber's chair.

Jordan says, “Another beautiful day waking up, coming and doing what you love to do and giving it everything you have every day.”

Jordan’s gratitude stems from eluding death on the front lines and on the home front.

“My job in the military was driving trucks," says Jordan.

Jordan first learned how to cut hair early on in his military career, eventually serving in three combat tours in Iraq. It remains hard to talk about the specifics of those missions.

“I got blown up in 2005. I rolled over a mine, a bomb, an IED," says Jordan.

He healed from the physical injuries sustained on the battlefield. But the invisible wounds of living constantly in survival mode, witnessing lives ripped apart and having no control over any of it, sent him into a tailspin.

Jordan says, “Losing one of my good friends back in 2007. His name was Jeffrey Walker. He was from Georgia. He died out in Iraq. It was a hard time. I felt like a piece of me was missing.”

Jeffrey Walker’s portrait is among those hanging in honor in his barber shop.

“Actually, this is what calms me down the most, cutting hair. This is my safe haven. This is my place when I feel I need to go and start cutting hair. Put all my time and focus better and make my craft better," adds Jordan.

Jordan, like so many returning from war, struggled to fill the voids of brotherhood and purpose. He slipped into a dark space he feared he’d never escape.

“There were times where I felt like shouldn’t even be alive," says Jordan.

Then, the hand he needed reached out in the form of staff members at the Semper Fi & America’s Fund.

“Semper Fi & America’s Fund is an organization built purely off of that need to help our wounded, ill, and injured get to a better place," says The Fund spokesperson John Schofield.

Schofield says The Fund, as it’s called, raised 40-million dollars in 2020 through donations to guide and support nearly 20-thousand service members on their individualized healing journies.

“It will take a servicemember in need, someone who wants to learn a particular craft or trade and what we’ll do is evaluate what they need in order to get there like Jason and his barber shop in Quantico," adds Schofield.

In Jordan's case, The Semper Fi & America’s Fund helped pay for an apprentice program allowing this now 38-year-old to hone his trade. And they invested in his now thriving business.

Schofield says, “In the end what The Fund does is they wrap their arms around these servicemembers with their love, with their effort in order to take them from their current to an ideal state, whatever that ideal state is for them.”

“In life, no matter how hard it gets, how many times you fall down, wherever you are going, it’s not about the fight. It’s about how many times are you willing to get up to fight," says Jordan.

Jordan now takes every opportunity he can from is barber's chair to inspire other servicemembers, through his example, to apply for and accept support. He knows full well you can’t completely erase the residues of war. But with help, instead of praying to survive each day, he's in a place where he can savor each day.

Jordan concludes, “I hope I’m able to provide some proof for veterans who have been through so much in life that there’s a way out, there’s a hope, that there’s a way to make a difference.”