BLAINE, Minn. (KMSP) - A former Navy SEAL from Blaine, Minnesota is using his unique military training to help fellow veterans returning home from war.
Isaiah Maring served on the elite Navy parachute team known as the Leap Frogs for three of his 10 years of service. When he retired in 2012, he saw an opportunity to turn his military training into a business.
"You get to be around the guys that you risked your life with, trained with, and who you know have your back,” said Maring about starting the Patriot Parachute Team with fellow veteran Justin Gonzales. “We get a little bit of adrenaline and risk factor by jumping into stadiums and other events and that's really what military members need and miss.”
Last year, the Patriot Parachute Team performed around 50 jumps across the country, including one in the Bahamas. The team was also hired by Hollywood, appearing in the film “Act of Valor”.
Gonzales says it’s not only his day job, but a form of therapy.
“It’s still challenging every day,” said Gonzales who served 12 years in the Navy. "I miss what I used to do a lot. I miss my friends. I miss being in a position where I could do more for our country and I’m just doing the best I can now to try and make up for that."
The group is not only made up of veterans, but they focus on educating their audience and clients about the struggles veterans face when returning to civilian life.
"We do our best to relate that information to people and we also work with nonprofits and companies such as the SEAL Future Fund that help place veterans in new roles …and help them find a new purpose when they transition out,” said Gonzales.
Maring says working with fellow veterans can be critical to someone’s success.
“They understand what you're thinking and what you're going through and so keeping those people around you is very important,” said Maring.
The Patriot Parachute Team is already booked to perform at the University of Minnesota football season opener in August. They’ve previously jumped into Twins games and even a Tim McGraw concert on Lake Minnetonka.