Todd Vance, a PLNU social work student and Iraq War veteran, was recently awarded the 10News Leadership Award. The award is given to those who provide “leadership by making San Diego a better place to live, by standing up for those who need help, and improving the quality of life for all San Diegans.”

Vance, who is experienced in Muay Thai kickboxing, was given the honor for teaching mixed martial arts (MMA) classes in an effort to help local veterans suffering from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition he deals with in his own life.

“Being involved with veteran care, more specifically veteran care involving mixed martial arts is the first thing I have been truly passionate about since being in the military,” said Vance. “Being a leader, working for a higher cause, and servicing an important need motivates me to dig deep and keep persistent. As a combat veteran, I believe it gives me an edge in assisting veterans with their needs. I have gone down the negative, dangerous roads of poor coping skills, I know what it took for me to climb out of the dark and I hope to continue leading by example to empower more men to do the same.”

Vance’s program, POW (Pugilistic Offensive Warrior), is a therapy session of sorts, one where veterans can channel feelings of aggression and frustration in a positive, controlled environment.

Todd believes this type of therapy is vital to veterans and his efforts are continually growing.

“I plan on continuing my POW program and making it a full time career one way or another, hitting the ground running by the time I graduate with my degree in social services,” said Vance. “The paperwork for non-profit status for the program has been filed, so I hope to receive federal or state grants to fund the program or get a Department of Defense-type contract. Either way POW will continue rain or shine far into the future. I have big plans for the group, myself, and my men.

Leadership awardees are nominated for their work in the categories of volunteerism, environment, diversity, and/or community action.

Watch the video on 10 News: http://www.10news.com/video/30199948/index.html.

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