Justin Matejcek is the President and Founder of Veterans Adventure Group. He served 5 years as an infantryman with the elite 101st Pathfinder Company. During his time in the military, he attended numerous schools, earned his Ranger tab, and distinguished himself as an exceptional soldier. He completed 2 combat deployments with this unit. While tending to the wounds of a fellow comrade in Afghanistan, he made a commitment to empowering veterans to accomplish amazing feats in hopes of changing the negative stigmas that surround veterans. Justin and the wounded soldier made a promise that day that they would climb Mt. Rainier together when they returned from overseas. The deal came to completion when he and the wounded soldier, along with 8 other veterans, climbed Mt. Rainier on the 2017 Rainier climb.
However, it was in February of 2016 that he began organizing the group's first climb up Mt. Rainier and officially founded Veterans Adventure Group. Since that trip, the organization's mentality has spread like wildfire and we now serve veterans across the United States. He leads by example, and can consistently be found on the mountains, in the caves, and even jumping out of planes with the veterans we serve. Currently, Justin lives in Bend, OR, and is frequently found in the nearby mountains skiing, rock climbing, and making summit pushes.
While this is far from his Minnesota roots, Justin has found his calling to serve is bolstered when immersed in our beautiful nation.
Austin McCall, born and raised in Texas, joined the Army in 2005 where he served 11 years. During this time he had 13 consecutive deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan with 2nd Ranger Battalion. Stationed in WA, he fell in love with mountaineering and honed his skills and leadership through various military mountaineering schools as an instructor and program director.
Since 2016, Austin has continued his passion for mountaineering, building small teams of capable veterans while planning, resources, and leading several successful climbs on Mount Rainier (WA), Mount Hood (OR), and Denali (AK). When not actively planning future expeditions with Veterans Adventure Group, he's improving his ski mountaineering skills taking on solo summits of big mountains.
Jocelyn Brackney is a born and raised Washingtonian living in Seattle. After graduating high school, she enlisted in the US Air Force as a Command Post and Airlift Operations Controller, spending the duration of her enlistment overseas with the 728th Air Mobility Squadron in Turkey and the 313th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron in Germany.
Upon separating from the Air Force, Jocelyn moved back to her home state of Washington and found refuge amongst the mountains in her own backyard, falling in love with the mental and physical challenges that mountaineering entails. Jocelyn can be found on the trail, climbing rocks, kayaking the nearby lake, or catching the next flight in search of another mountain to cross off her ever-growing list.
Dustin Wintczak is a native Washingtonian raised in the Pacific Northwest. His love for the outdoors started with family camping trips and fishing, which evolved into hiking and climbing later in his life.
Since 2017, Dustin has served as a volunteer mountaineering school instructor for the Intermountain Alpine Club. In 2018, he was fortunate enough to partner with Veterans Adventure Group through a high school classmate and veteran who was invited to climb Mount Rainier. After a successful summit in 2018, he's returned each year to help the mountaineering program lead climbers up Mount Rainier and Mount Hood.
When he's not climbing, Dustin stays busy with his family; his partner Molly and their three children, Shaelyn, Hunter, and Thatcher.
Dustin can be found on Instagram: @sunny16_rule
Ross Erickson was raised in the Pacific Northwest. Less than a week out of high school, he joined the Marines and spent the entirety of his time stationed at 29 Palms, CA in the 3rd Battalion 7th Marine Division as a rifleman. He was deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Ross found his passion for the mountains while training to climb Denali. He spent several years training and taking courses to learn more about the sport of mountaineering and alpinism before he achieved his goal of summiting Denali with the Veterans Adventure Group in 2023. He loves the methodical nature of training programs, and spending time on the trails to prepare for his next big adventure.
Ross can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
April Martinez is a first-generation Filipina-American residing in Southern California. She enlisted in the Army as a Radiology Specialist and worked with wounded warriors in Texas. After spending time at West Point, she commissioned as a Logistics Officer, serving with the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.
When stationed in Washington in 2021, she swiftly developed a passion for solo hiking and backpacking in the Pacific Northwest and realized she was a Type-2 Fun enthusiast. It wasn't until the fall of 2022 that she summited Koma Kulshan (Mount Baker) and found herself captivated by mountaineering. In less than a year, she conquered all five Cascade volcanoes, most recently achieving the summit of Tahoma (Mount Rainier).
April can be found on Instagram: @april_onthego
Steve Polovick is a Midwesterner and former Marine and 2d MARDIV infantryman, living and working in suburban Central Ohio with his wife and daughter.
Steve Graduated from Ohio Dominican College with his BA in Social Work, and Franklin University with a MS in Human Services and has enjoyed being a social worker for the last 30 years, serving low-income children and families.
Steve fell in love with the mountains of the Sierra Madre, while living in Mexico after the Marines. Steve has climbed volcanos and peaks throughout Mexico and Central America and seen summits on Mt. Hood, Mt. Rainier, and Denali.
At the age of 56, Steve is the oldest active climber with Veterans Adventure Group, and encourages other older veterans and outdoor enthusiasts to keep climbing towards their dreams.
Steve can be reached by email at email@example.com
Born and raised in the mountains of Puerto Rico in a city called Caguas, Frances is a left-leg amputee, an Army veteran, and a PASA (Professional Air Sports Association) Level 3 kiteboarding instructor.
Frances has enjoyed giving many kiteboarding lessons to her fellow veterans. She loves seeing a fellow veteran deal with, and overcome the challenges of service and sacrifice, and the trauma that often goes with that.
She shares a common bond with the men and women that she has served with. Whether she knows them personally or not, she is committed to helping. Kiteboarding has become the vehicle through which Frances has chosen to offer that help.
Born and raised in southern Alabama, Whitman never had a thought about climbing growing up. It wasn't until deploying to the Pech and Korengal Valley of Afghanistan in 2010 that he discovered his love of the mountains. After serving as an Infantryman in many different roles including Scout Sniper with the 101st Airborne Division, Whitman began looking for his next adventure.
Whitman now lives and works as a climbing guide in the New River Gorge and continues to support other veterans by hosting rock climbing events near his home in West Virginia.
Whitman is a AMGA certified Single Pitch Instructor and pursuing certifications in multiple disciplines to one day become a fully certified mountain guide through the American Mountain Guide Association.