Keith Cochran, a retired U.S. Army veteran, works as a universal home technician for Cox Communications in Rhode Island. Learn more about him and how he helps other veterans by making and selling bracelets made of parachute cords and bullet casings in this quick Q&A.
What prompted you to join the Army?
I joined the Army in 1988 during the Cold War. My father and grandfathers were all career soldiers so that motivated me to join. I wanted to get into culinary arts and decided to make food service my job in the military. I did that for nine years before becoming a military police officer for 16 years.
How many deployments did you do?
I did four deployments overseas which included Bosnia, Iraq twice and Afghanistan, with six months of homeland security right after Sept 11th. I reached the rank of E-7 Sergeant first class.
Has your military experience impacted your world view?
My time in the military gave me the ability to visit many countries. It made me gain a perspective on the world in ways that others may not have. By being a visitor in a country, you learn their views on the world and take part in their customs.
Did you meet any special people during your time in the service?
There have been times where people have said “you are a hero.” I tell them that I’m not a hero, but I have spent time in the presence of heroes. Joseph Camara is my hero. He was my mentor, my squad leader and I’m proud to have called him my friend. He was killed in Iraq in 2003 when the vehicle he was riding in hit an IED. His sacrifice propelled me to be a better person, a better leader. It also motivated me to not only train soldiers for war, but to mentor them to become better individuals.
What advice might you share with someone who is interested in enlisting?
The advice I would give someone is to decide on a career that you will want to merge into as a civilian. The military skills you learn will greatly help in preparing you for the rest of your life.
What was your favorite care package while deployed?
My favorite care packages were obviously always the ones coming from my mom (LOL). That’s true because they always had homemade fudge!
Aside from your families what did you miss most while deployed?
One thing I really missed besides family and friends when overseas was my dog, “Scout.” He’s a 120-pound yellow lab.
You make special bracelets to help support veterans. Can you describe them and how they are designed?
I started making a version of the parachute cord bracelet in 2006. Today they are a copper core bracelet with thousands of colors and combinations to choose from. What’s nice about them is every color or design means something different to everyone, from school colors you represent to a cause you stand behind.
They are handmade from start to finish, with a portion of my proceeds going to #22KILL, an organization that brings awareness to suicide prevention for veterans. It’s a cause and organization that I hold near and dear to my heart. “One soldier's life cut short is one too many.”
Click here to see a recent TV news interview with Keith about his philanthropy.