“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
It’s a question most of us recall being asked at least once during our childhood. President, ballerina or even a bashful shrug are among some of the more common answers, but for Los Angeles City Leader Jon Reed, there was never any doubt. By two-years-old, Reed already knew he wanted to join the military. Now, after a nine-year career as a special forces medic and two tours in Afghanistan, it’s safe to say he’s made good on his dream.
Reed grew up in Berkley, California before heading south to LA for college. He attended UCLA and received his B.A. in history. While attending school, he began to prepare physically and mentally for enlistment and began to work as an EMT.
“I thought becoming an EMT in Los Angeles would expose me to high-stress operations and provide me with a relevant skill set for combat. Coincidentally, my EMT experience contributed to me becoming a Special Forces Medic (18D)”
Reed spent much of 2012 in the Zabul Province in southern Afghanistan and would later return in 2016 to serve in the Kunduz province. As a medical specialist, his responsibilities were numerous. One of the biggest was training others in tactical emergency trauma care while simultaneously serving as the sole medical provider for a large amount of personnel. Reed also gained difficult experience in treating injuries caused by improved explosive devices (IED’s), enemy ambushes and vehicle roll overs. At one point, he was responsible for training a group of Afghani police officers in emergency first response, something that would serve as foreshadowing for his later career.
Following his first deployment and after five years on active duty, Reed returned home to California and transitioned to a National Guard Special Forces unit near Long Beach, CA. Wanting to become a physician, he went back to school to complete the necessary post-baccalaureate studies and co-founded a critical care training company named IA MED. Although originally an attempt to strengthen his med-school application, Reed quickly realized that IA MED was meant to be his next step. After he postponed his MCAT, the rest was history.
IA MED is an EMS education company that provides instruction and educational materials for paramedic professional development through specialized courses and certifications. Reed now runs the company and credits the military for preparing him for business in a number of ways. Some important lessons were learning how to navigate difficult work flows and mastering the art of being comfortable while uncomfortable but his biggest lesson came while coordinating between multiple groups.
“Coordinating between the Provincial Governor, various Afghan military Units, US air units, and USAID in a microcosm led to my realization that the ’status quo’ is entirely malleable if you can organize and coordinate key stakeholders.”
Reed now resides in L.A. and works closely with Bunker Labs. He became involved with the Veterans in Residence Program after a WeWork community manager suggested it as an option for his transition from combat to CEO.
“Bunker was the absolute perfect fit for me. It gave me an outlet for both parts of my life and I continue to get tremendous fulfillment from seeing other veterans find a community and pursue their dreams.”