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The Patriot Empowerment Institute is a veteran non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that prepares current military service members for their most challenging period, THE JOURNEY BACK TO CIVILIAN LIFE.

Our 4 PILLAR program seeks to PREPARE, EMPOWER, and SUPPORT military service members placing them on a path toward positive personal and professional development and a successful post-military life.

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James, Steve, and Ben, the three co-founders of the Patriot Empowerment Institute, were driven by a profound sense of duty and loss when they embarked on their mission to support veterans. The motivation for their endeavor came after attending the funerals of several former Marine Corps teammates who had tragically succumbed to suicide or fell into the grips of substance abuse.

As they grappled with the grief of losing comrades, they were struck by the realization that they themselves fell into the same statistical envelope and decided to act. Recognizing the critical gap in support systems for transitioning veterans, particularly the absence of a comprehensive long-term plan beyond the military's brief five-day program, they united their efforts to establish the Patriot Empowerment Institute.

Committed to making a tangible difference, they designed a robust two-year transition program aimed at providing holistic support, mentorship, and guidance to veterans, ensuring they have the tools and resources necessary for a successful reintegration into civilian life. Through their dedication and vision, PEI is forging a path toward healing by PREPARING, EMPOWERING, and SUPPORTING those who have served their country as they return to civilian life.



To PREPARE, EMPOWER, and SUPPORT military service members placing them on a path toward positive personal and professional development and a successful post-military life.


PEI PREPARES our military for post service success by offering a game plan long before they are due to discharge. By reaching out well in advance, PEI looks to PREVENT the downward spirals that are all to common among transitioning vets.


PEI EMPOWERS transitioning service members by providing them with the tools and guidance necessary to enact their own comprehensive, long-term strategy aimed at making a smooth transition


PEI SUPPORTS service members by implementing a long-term, two-year planning program. This helps them realistically and seamlessly transition to either an institution of higher learning or professional employment.



Founded by veterans to support those Patriots who came after.

Chief Executive Officer - Co-Founder


Prior to co-founding Patriot Empowerment Institute, James served 23 years in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Force Reconnaissance Marine deploying globally, directly supporting special operation units, intelligence organizations and the U.S. Department of State.

Upon leaving active duty, he transitioned to the corporate sector and is currently Director of Strategic and Latin American accounts at ClearspeedTM. In that position he helps cultivate business relationships across multiple government and Latin America networks to further the company’s vision and achieve maximum impact in their mission to build a safer world through Trust.

James holds a BA in Political Science from Columbia University in the City of New York, a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, and an MBA from the University of San Francisco’s School of Management.

Chief Financial Officer - Co-Founder


Steve Garcia served honorably in the United States Marine Corps for ten years, during which time he moved up through the enlisted ranks, ultimately completing his career as a Staff Sergeant. Throughout his military career, he moved through greater levels of responsibility and demonstrated a record of superior performance in his progression from recruit training to Force Recon. Notably, Steve completed two combat deployments to Iraq where he fought in the invasion of Baghdad as a Recon Battalion Assistant Team Leader and the Battle of Fallujah as a Team Leader. In Iraq, he served in various leadership positions under the most challenging and complex situations imaginable. Because of his training and experience, he is very familiar with the essential aspects of direction and mission success, including preparation, training, and communication. Steve received a Combat Action ribbon as well as the Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with “V” combat distinguishing device representing valor. In addition to co-founding PEI, he established and helped Patriot General Engineering grow to a multi-million dollar organization while representing the company as the President.

Chief Operating Officer - Co-Founder


Benjamin Garcia is a multifaceted individual with a passion for service, leadership, and community empowerment. As a Co-Founding Member of the Patriot Empowerment Institute, a distinguished non-profit organization committed to fostering positive change and empowerment within the Veteran communities, Ben has demonstrated his unwavering dedication to making a difference.

Prior to his involvement in the non-profit sector, Benjamin served with honor and distinction in the United States Marine Corps. Over the course of four and a half years, he exemplified the core values of the Marine Corps as a Reconnaissance Marine with the elite 1st Reconnaissance Battalion and supported the U.S. Department of State with 2 operational deployments. Through his service, he developed invaluable skills in leadership, teamwork, and adaptability that continue to guide him in his endeavors today.

In his civilian career, Benjamin holds Executive positions at both Patriot General Engineering and Cal West Engineering, where he plays a pivotal role in driving strategic initiatives and ensuring operational excellence. His keen business acumen and strong leadership abilities have been instrumental in the success and growth of these companies. Ben has also been involved in the start and development of many other companies in various industries throughout San Diego.

Ben is a lifelong learner and holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, laying a solid foundation for his career in business management. Building upon this foundation, he pursued further education and earned an MBA with a specialization in Marketing, equipping him with the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in today's dynamic business environment.

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Benjamin remains deeply committed to giving back to his community and supporting causes close to his heart. Whether it's through his work with the Patriot Empowerment Institute or his involvement in various charitable initiatives, he continues to inspire positive change and make a lasting impact wherever he goes.

With his unique blend of military experience, business expertise, and passion for philanthropy, Benjamin Garcia is a true leader and role model, dedicated to making the world a better place for all.

Director of Marketing & Events


A seasoned marketing professional, Doug serves as the Director of Marketing and Events for Patriot Empowerment. With experience working in the marketing departments of the San Diego Chargers and the San Diego Gulls Hockey Club, Doug honed his skills in a high-pressure sports environment, gaining invaluable insights into fan engagement and brand promotion.

Additionally, his tenure as the Director of Operations for Integrated Sports involved managing events for the foundations of numerous professional athletes, including legends like Drew Brees, Stephen Strasburg, Philip Rivers, LaDainian Tomlinson, Junior Seau, Darren Sproles, and Marshall Faulk, among many others. He also created, developed, and executed legacy events for the San Diego County Office of Health and Human Services, San Diego Blood Bank, 211 San Diego, San Diego SuperYacht Association, and SDSU Alumni Association. Doug's extensive experience and expertise in event management and marketing make him a valuable asset in driving Patriot Empowerment's mission and success. Doug has a B.S. in Marketing from San Diego State University and an M.S. in Sports Administration

Director of Academic Success


Bio coming soon...



Frank Passiglia

Frank Passiglia

Matt Passiglia

Matt Passiglia

Carl Passiglia



  • San Diego, CA
  • Camp Pendleton, CA
  • Camp Lejeune, NC
  • New York, NY
  • East Coast
  • West Coast

Communicating and supporting individuals that have already transitioned by connecting them with the appropriate services that can best support their specific needs.