From his earliest days on the elementary school playground, Jay Kopelman has championed for – and taken pride in defending – those who could not necessarily stand up for themselves. He continues to champion for the underdog, and has dedicated his adult life to helping others: first, as an officer of Marines for 21 years; then later as the executive director of a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting wounded service members and their families; and, finally, as a health care innovation leader seeking improved patient outcomes. Though he has performed combat operations in Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Kopelman (U.S. Marine Corps, retired) has continually managed to demonstrate compassion for those who have suffered at the hands of tyrants.
Today, Kopelman serves as a contractor with Janssen Healthcare Innovation (JHI) – a part of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies – in the role of Global Trial Manager. At JHI, he helps lead innovative and novel approaches to improving patient outcomes by leveraging new technologies that encourage and assist health care providers and patients alike to play a more active role in their health and post-event outcomes. Specifically, Kopelman is leading the implementation of a novel approach to cardiac rehabilitation at the VA Medical Center in San Francisco, and the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La Jolla, CA. By developing new technologies that deliver and enhance education, individual exercise programs, and patient-facing interactive web solutions, JHI can deliver improved patient outcomes, thereby significantly reducing re-hospitalization rates.
Kopelman began his military career in the US Navy in 1985, training to become a Naval Aviator, and then transferred to the Marine Corps in 1992, where he continued to fly before becoming a forward air controller and earning his gold naval parachutist wings. His last assignment was as the Deputy Director for advisor training at Camp Pendleton.
In 2004, as the Special Operations Forces Liaison Officer for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), Kopelman was deployed to Iraq to train the Iraqi Special Forces (SSF). In October, he was assigned as the liaison officer to an Iraqi Army battalion, and they entered the city of Fallujah (at the time, considered the most dangerous place on Earth) in November to battle insurgents for control of the city. Subsequently, Kopelman served as the I MEF liaison officer to a joint special operations task force and as a liaison officer to the Iraqi border forces – the Desert Wolves – at the Syrian and Jordanian borders.
Kopelman has appeared frequently on both network (Fox) and local television news to discuss breaking stories, events, and issues of importance to the military and veterans. He has authored two books, the New York Times and international bestselling memoir, From Baghdad, With Love: A Marine, the War, and a Dog Named Lava; and From Baghdad to America: Life After War for a Marine and His Rescued Dog. He serves on the Advisory Board of the Virtual Reality Medical Center, a San Diego-based company with offices in Los Angeles and Palo Alto, CA, that has been using simulation technologies to treat returning combat veterans suffering from PTSD via graded exposure therapy. Kopelman also serves as a member of the board of directors of Freedom Is Not Free, and is a supporter of San Diego-based Challenged Athletes Foundation. He raises funds for their Operation Rebound program, the penultimate program of its type, dedicated to bringing sports and exercise to permanently disabled veterans and first responders.
Speaking to audiences about his experiences in Iraq, he also addresses his journey of leadership, and his perspectives on current world events, terrorism, and how politics will affect Iraq and the world. Additionally, Kopelman is well versed on the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the resultant casualties of this debilitating and insidious disease. He speaks to these issues, as well as the increasing rates of suicide, substance abuse, and homelessness among our veterans and what can be done to help them.
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