Jose Belen is a decorated United States Army Combat veteran and co-founder of Florida Mission Zero, a nonprofit organization dedicated to combating the PTSD and suicide epidemic plaguing U.S. veterans. A native of Amsterdam in Upstate New York, Jose enlisted in the Army at age 19. He deployed to Iraq in 2003 during the initial Operation Iraqi Freedom invasion and spent 14 consecutive months in combat. After his honorable discharge in 2005, Jose eventually moved to Florida, where he began raising a family and launched a successful corporate career in the real estate and insurance industries. Meanwhile, he was silently battling the debilitating effects post-traumatic stress disorder, with medical and veterans-support systems he had access to offering little help. Jose’s struggles came to a head in 2016, when the war within his own mind almost robbed him of everything: His career, his family, nearly his own life.
Ultimately, however, Jose was able to overcome his personal demons. Inspired by his triumph, in 2017 Jose and his wife Danielle founded Florida Mission Zero, an organization dedicated to proving PTSD isn’t a death sentence or the end of the line for U.S. veterans and their families. To that end, the nonprofit develops targeted education and advocacy campaigns, spearheads suicide prevention efforts, and organizes family support initiatives. Jose and Danielle also help business owners expand their veterans outreach and hiring programs, as well as run veterans coaching initiatives.
An inspiring public speaker, Jose has shared his story at major conferences nationally and internationally and has graced the stage with the likes of Montel Williams and former NFL star Marvin Washington. Based on his own experiences, Jose is also an outspoken advocate for compassionate access to medical cannabis for veterans and non-veterans alike. He is one of six individuals and organizations who are currently suing the federal government to remove cannabis from its list of Schedule I drugs.