Passion, Experience and Dedication to Service Drive US Navy Veteran Jeff Bartom in Daily Commitment to Pay It Forward

by OSD Staff Writer, Ann Green

Jeff Bartrom, Southwest Regional Director for OSD (Operation Supply Drop), served in the U.S. Navy from 2007 to 2015.  He was posted to Okinawa, mainland Japan, Korea, Iraq and Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California.  In Iraq Bartrom served as a Navy Fleet Marine Force Hospital Corpsman, helping injured Marines.

Since completing his service, Bartrom has combined his compassion, focus, technical genius and high energy with a drive to develop whatever skills he needs to help others.  

After his service, eager to help his fellows, Bartrom began, on his own, sending care packages of XBOX systems and video games to soldiers, fellow veterans, as well as those recuperating from injuries in hospitals.  His good deeds caught the attention of OSD’s Scott Morrison, Director of Global Community Operations, who found Bartrom on Twitter in 2015 and asked him to join forces with OSD.

Jeff Bartom Senior Picture prior to joining the US Navy

“I believe that my life’s mission is to help people,” says Bartrom.  “I love being able to lend a hand wherever it’s needed.” In his hometown of San Diego, Bartrom volunteered over 1400 hours in 2016 and more than 2000 in 2017, offering his services and skills in addition to recruiting 45 volunteers to assist in a variety of programs.  In 2017 he was named Outstanding Veteran Volunteer by the City of San Diego   In their tribute to Bartrom, OSD commended “Jeff’s efforts and contributions to the city of San Diego, which have created an impact for veterans, homeless veterans and our OSD community.”   “I couldn’t have done any of this without my amazing team of volunteers of OSD San Diego and the mentorship of OSD executive leaders and my mentors at the University of San Diego,” Bartrom said at the time.

From 2011 to 2015 Bartrom brought his technical expertise to his role as assistant clinic supervisor for the IT project manager at the new Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton.  He supervised 15 employees while managing IT assets valued over $400,000.  His team was able to reduce waste by $2.3 million every year of the project, utilizing Lean Six Sigma practices.  Lean Six is a managerial concept designed to eliminate waste and improve efficiency.  Bartrom’s team oversaw a 21% increase in productivity. The new facility is a 42-bed teaching hospital which provides inpatient and outpatient care for active-duty service members and their families as well as retirees and others who are eligible.  “I’m pleased to have helped build and implement the technical infrastructure for this brand new facility,” says Bartrom.

Bartrom also employs his gifts as a motivational speaker in a variety of settings.   “I especially enjoy speaking to wounded warriors wherever I can,” says Bartrom. “I think more needs to be done for veterans; especially helping them transition to civilian life.”

Bartrom during deployed to Iraq

Bartrom always goes the extra mile for the veteran’s community which he loves.  While in the Navy he got a dental technician certification, FEMA Management Certified, EMT Trained, Surgical Tech Trained and, since 2011, has served as a dental assistant for Veterans Safety Stand Down, a national coalition which helps homeless veterans.  He is part of the team which provides treatment to homeless veterans in need of dental care and dental resources. “It’s important that these veterans understand we are here for them,” says Bartrom

Bartrom has also been involved in beach clean-ups in San Diego, food drives for the homeless in conjunction with various parishes, as well as efforts to provide supplies to shelters for battered women.  He also organized a festive Thanksgiving party for the Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 at the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar in California.  

Bartrom acknowledges that a lot of his compassion for those in need stems from his experience as a foster child.  That compassion manifests itself not only in his work for veterans and the military but also for people at risk in all corners of society.  While stationed in Okinawa, Bartrom worked with the Marine Corp Community Services Children, Youth, and Teen Programs, working with children of servicemen and women from 2007 – 2011.  He provided tutoring services and child care, coordinated public events and inspired the young people whom he mentored.

Bartrom also mentors young people at Boys & Girls Clubs and speaks at juvenile detention centers.   He volunteers at the Coastal Academy High School in Oceanside, CA, where his wife is the school principal.  Coastal Academy is a tuition-free public charter school serving grades K-8. He is planning to launch an ROTC program there.  He is also advisor to the Video Games Club.

Bartrom partnered with the Microsoft Global Disability and Inclusion program to supply Xbox game controllers to help children on the autism spectrum.   He has also worked with local companies to donate gaming equipment to those suffering from spinal cord injuries in the San Diego and Long Beach VA hospitals.

Bartom enjoys many activities including traveling in his post-service life

Bartrom’s many interests include a passion for film, which led to an exciting two weeks at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Utah.  The festival was founded by actor Robert Redford as a nonprofit organization that advances the work of independent storytellers in film and theater.  While there Bartrom met Danny DeVito, Ben Foster and Redford.  As part of his degree program at the University of San Diego he plans to do a senior project involving a documentary about veterans.  

The multi-talented veteran is also a host at Digital Hoarders, a gaming-centric podcast which, says Bartrom, “focuses on bringing positivity to everyday life.  The podcast features guests every week. A recent show featured Chris Thompson, running back for the Washington Redskins, who talked about the challenges of recovering from a broken back.”  Digital Hoarders can be found on YouTube and iTunes and appears live on YouTube and Mixer Wednesdays at 6:30 pm EST.

Bartrom will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in communications and media studies from the University of San Diego in December of 2018.  He previously earned his associates degree with a 4.0 average from American Military University while working full time in the military. As vice president of the Student Veterans Organization, he keeps veterans up to speed on the benefits and resources available at USD.   He visits community colleges to inform prospective students of USD admissions requirements and represents USD at college fairs. He was also involved in the school’s veteran’s group.

Originally from Indiana, Bartrom lives in San Diego County with his wife and three mini-dachshunds.  

“I love OSD,” says Bartrom.  “It gives me the opportunity to help people in need, to give back. OSD gives me a sense of community.   I can still enjoy my military connections. It’s been very rewarding.”