Veterans Assembled electronics is an electronics modernization and training company with a commitment to provide military veterans the training, certification, and workforce preparation needed to pursue careers in the electronics industry. Learn about the VAe team.
Founder and CEO
John Shepard has over 30 years’ experience in sales and management in the computer industry. Prior to starting VAe in 2009, Mr. Shepard co-founded two breakthrough technology companies involved with firewalls and biometric identification.
He started his career with IBM and has performed every aspect of business from finance and acquisition to operations and executive management. Mr. Shepard is a Vietnam combat veteran and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from the University of Rhode Island.
Chief Operating Officer
Matt Vargas works as the chief of operations for VAe and works directly with the teams at each location to ensure that the training and employment opportunities available to each veteran are maximized.
Matt has a diverse background in military leadership, consulting, and finance. He is a combat veteran of the war in Afghanistan and fluent in Spanish, Portuguese, and Afghan Farsi. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in Human Geography and a minor in Environmental Engineering.
Marisol Garcia brings an extensive management and administrative background to VAe. She has close to 20 years of experience working in constituent services and communications at both the state and federal level. Marisol was most recently the Executive Director of the Matty Fund, raising awareness for children and families affected by epilepsy. She graduated from Rhode Island College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications, with a minor in Business Administration, and has served on multiple boards throughout the state.
Julie Frisone is our Veteran Advocate in New England and has an extraordinary background working with veteran service organizations. Julie has operated in support of veteran initiatives in Southern New England for more than 3 years and possesses an unparalleled wealth of knowledge on veteran service programs available to current and former service members. Julie’s experience is pivotal in implementing our advocacy model and she is well versed in providing both tactical and strategic career solutions to the veterans in our program. She is a graduate of Bryant University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration.
Caitlin Taylor is partnering with Julie Frisone, as a Veteran Advocate in Rhode Island. With an extensive background of cultivating corporate and community partnerships, Caitlin brings a new approach to enhance the employment aspect of the veteran advocate role. As a veteran enters the employment phase of the program, Caitlin will be assisting in every aspect from resume writing to interview preparation to ensure each graduate secures the most optimal opportunity available.
Lab Engineer, CETsr
Zach Barrett works as the lead Engineer in lab development and improvement for VAe. He works with all of VAe’s instructors and potential student employers to determine and meet the hands on training needs of various electromechanical fields. Zach has a background in many electromechanical fields beginning with his Mechanical engineering degree from the University of Rhode Island. He was also the lead engineer and subject matter expert for the modernization of two MK-48 torpedo electromechanical components. In addition, Zach has designed and manufactured multiple test sets for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center. Upon completion of the Naval contract, Zach moved into the lab development field for VAe’s electromechanical curriculum, which is what he focuses primarily on today.
Tony Ruoti retired from the U.S. Navy in 2005 and worked in the Defense Industry before joining Vae. A former Naval Aviator, Tony served as a communications officer onboard the USS Forrestal and on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff where he help develop the information requirements today’s Services implement enabling them to work as a team. He is a Senior, Certified Electronics Technician (CETsr), as well as, a Certified IPC Instructor for J-STD-001, IPC/WHMA-A-620, and IPC-A-610.
Bob Lisi served as a Design Technician at Raytheon Submarine Signal for 13 years, where he assembled experimental circuitry and completed prototype models. Bob also worked as a Production Test Engineer for Independent Energy, an alternative energy company where he initiated and adapted engineering change requests and change orders. In this role, he also provided product development and research and designed new test equipment among other things. After Independent Energy, Bob worked for Honeywell Inc. as an HVAC Systems Engineer for 8 years. Bob also served for four years in the United States Navy where he served as a qualified aircrew. For 16 years Bob has volunteered at the Quonset Air Museum to help in the process of restoration of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War era aircraft.
Rachel works as a Veteran Advocate for the VAe Florida locations and manages each veteran for the entire lifecycle of the program. Whether from initial engagement and entry into the program to interview prep and job placement into the civilian marketplace, she will ensure each veteran is prepared and job ready upon graduation. Rachel has an extensive background in full cycle Technical Recruitment and staffing management as well as Human Resource management.
Veteran Advocate Jr.
Julie Gaudio is partnering with Rachel Santos as a Junior Advocate for the VAe location in Melbourne, Florida. She has previous staffing experience with the recruitment and placement of new hires for many diverse industries as well as general office administration. Julie obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Central Florida.
Director of Manufacturing Curriculum Orlando, FL
Frank has over 40 years’ experience in the military and in the electronics manufacturing service (EMS) industry. Since starting his post-military career with Texas Instruments, Frank has held various management and engineering positions with aerospace, semiconductor material, semiconductor equipment and telecommunications companies. He has been an American Society for Quality (ASQ) certified Quality Engineer and is an expert in developing and implementing ISO-9000 quality systems. He is an ETA Senior Certified Electronics Technician (CETsr) and a Master IPC Trainer (MIT). Frank holds a Bachelor of Science Degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. Frank served as an Infantry Officer in United States Army and in the Army Reserves.
Robert has 30 years of electrical engineering experience in the military, commercial, industrial, aerospace, and semiconductor technical support markets. Bob has experience in embedded hardware design, PCB design, components engineering, documentation control, field application engineering for semi-conductor products, RF, microwave, and antenna design. He holds a BSEE from Florida Atlantic University at Boca Raton, FL. Bob served six years in the Navy as an Aviation Hydraulics and Airframes technician.
Nate served in the 75th Ranger Regiment from 2006-2010. Nate’s military background laid the groundwork for his support of veterans. In addition to his time in the military, Nate has a strong counseling background as he completed his graduate degrees at the University of Connecticut with an M.A. in Educational Psychology and an M.S. in Sport Management. Nate’s combination of Special Operations service and counseling experience allows him to support and advocate for veterans at VAe.
Fort Bragg, NC
Gretta served 20 years on active duty in the United States Army. She served at the Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB), Ft Bragg, North Carolina from 2008-2011. Gretta coordinated with various Veteran Service Organizations ensuring assistance to Service Members and Veterans before, during, and after their transition. She assisted wounded, injured, and ill Service Members and their families with employment, education, and internships while assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion. Gretta’s assistance is paramount in advocating for Veterans. She looks forward to providing optimal service to Veterans and transitioning Service Members.
Gretta retired from Ft Lewis, Washington in 2014. She relocated back to North Carolina with her husband.
Director of Base Operations
Alvin Brown works as the Director of Base Operations at VAe. He is a proven leader with over 29 years of United States Army experience in Leadership, Leader Development, Team Building, Logistics, Recruiting, Strategic Planning, Training, Project Management and Wounded, Ill and Injured Soldier’s care and Transition. He served as a Command Sergeant Major his last 8 years in the Army in multiple organizations assisting and preparing the Army’s Wounded, Ill and Injured Soldiers for transition by working with many Veteran Service Organizations. He is a graduate of Columbia Southern University with a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership. He is a proud member of VAe and looks forward to assisting ALL veterans and transitioning service members who are interested and qualify for this program!
Fort Bragg, NC
Thomas Burns is a retired combat veteran with over 16 years of dedicated service. He served and deployed with the 82nd Airborne Division and Special Operations Command. While stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, his focus was maintenance and troubleshooting procedures. Additionally, he focused on reading wiring diagrams of the Launcher-Loader Module (LLM) portion of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) and the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS). He has worked with field representatives of Lockheed Martin to test and maintain circuitry and electronic components of the HIMARS and MLRS.
Mr. Burns retired from Fort Lee, Virginia in 2016. He moved back to North Carolina where he lives with his wife and four daughters. Mr. Burns is furthering his education towards an electrical engineering degree.
Fort Bragg, NC
Aubrey Shackleford is an Army Veteran from Hampton, VA. He was trained at Ft. Gordon, GA as a Radio Electronics Technician (29E), and Communication Security Device Repairer, (29S). He was later trained in Special Operations Electronics Device repair at 3rd Special Forces Group. Upon exiting the service, he became an Electronic Technician at the Materiel Maintenance Division at Ft. Bragg, NC where he remained for 10 years. He then was recruited by Tobyhanna Army Depot, (the Army Communications and Electronics Command) to be a Forward Support Representative for Surveillance Systems in Afghanistan. He was trained by Raytheon, the Army Research Lab, Motorola, and Tobyhanna Army Depot. Mr. Shackleford has been an Electronic Technician for more than 20 years.
Mr. Shackleford is married and enjoys spending time with his wife and kids.
Samuel Watson Colonel, US Army Retired
Samuel Watson is a combat-wounded, service-disabled veteran from the Vietnam War where he served two years in the 101st Airborne Division. During 30 years in the Army he was an infantry airborne-Ranger leader, negotiated with the Soviets on arms control, served at the CIA, and as a deputy national security advisor in the White House. In Iraq for over two years he was an advisor on public diplomacy and governance to the Provincial Council and Governor in Diwaniyah Province. He has been an associate professor at a major research university, been a consultant on homeland security issues, public affairs, and a consultant to VAe for over 10 years. Samuel Watson and John Shepard have worked together for over 25 years.
Dr. Judith A. Brissette
Judith A. Brissette, Ph.D. is a Senior Consultant for the higher education practice of R. H. Perry & Associates. Based in Rhode Island, Judy brings 30 years experience in higher education and an in-depth perspective on a broad range of institutional issues and challenges that enhances her work in conducting presidential and senior administrative searches.
Since coming to R. H. Perry & Associates in 2002, Dr. Brissette has conducted searches for Presidents, Provosts, Vice Presidents for Academic Affairs, Institutional Advancement, Finance and Administration, Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. She has also conducted searches for Deans of Business, Education, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Nursing Health Care Administration and Continuing Education.
From 2002 to 2005, Dr. Brissette served as President of the Rhode Island Independent Higher Education Association. Prior to that, Judy was at Western New England College (WNEC) where her positions included Vice President for Administration and Planning, 1989-1999; Secretary to the Board of Trustees, 1989-1996; and Director of Institutional Coordination, 1982-1989. During her time at WNEC, Judy was involved in negotiating articulation agreements with Community Colleges to enhance the ability of graduates to transfer to four year institutions. She has also served as a consultant to the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) and the Rhode Island Board of Governor’s for Higher Education. In 1993, she was also given responsibility for the Student Affairs area that included Enrollment Management and Admissions. From 1979-1982, she was an Academic Advisor at the University of Toledo.
While at Western New England College, Dr. Brissette and a colleague devised, prepared, and implemented a complete reorganization of central college administrative services, including financial aid, registrar, and bursar’s office into a unique unit called Student Administrative Services. Teams have come from colleges and universities nationwide to observe and study this unique and successful operation, which has received acclaim and commendation for its innovative contribution to higher education.
A native of Providence, R.I., she received a B.A. in sociology from Salve Regina University, a M.Ed. in counselor education from Rhode Island College, and her Ph.D. in higher education from The University of Toledo.
Hon. Allen Boyd
From 1997 to 2011, Allen Boyd represented the 2nd Congressional District of Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1999, he was appointed to the exclusive Appropriations Committee of the House of Representatives where he worked to bring funding to the priorities of North Florida, including its military community, agriculture industry, and transportation systems. Boyd served on a number of sub-committees of the House Appropriations Committee, including Financial Services, Agriculture and Rural Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Defense. In his role on the Committee, he oversaw the budgets of multiple agencies, including the Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Pentagon, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Boyd focused much of his effort on ensuring that America maintained a strong military and continued to have a world-class agriculture production industry.
During his tenure, Boyd also served on the House Armed Services and Budget Committees. He became known as a leading voice on fiscal responsibility, joining the Budget Committee in 2007. As a member of the Budget Committee, he was actively involved in every aspect of the nation’s fiscal policy.
Throughout his tenure in Congress, Boyd was a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democratic members in the House who advocate for fiscal responsibility in the federal budgeting process. He was instrumental in the successful efforts by Congress to reach the historic 1997 balanced budget agreement. Additionally, as the Blue Dog Co-Chair for the Administration in the 110th Congress, Boyd led the charge for the return to pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules in the House.
Prior to being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives Boyd served in the Florida House of Representatives from 1989-1996. While in the State House, he was known as an articulate voice for consensus building and reasonable compromise. As Chairman of the Florida House Democratic Conservative Caucus, he helped build bridges between diverse interests on such difficult issues as public education, healthcare, and welfare reform. He served as Chairman of the Governmental Operations Committee, and later chaired the powerful House Rules and Calendar Committee in his last term.
After serving 14 years in the United States House of Representatives, Boyd served as a Senior Advisor to Twenty-First Century Group from 2011 to 2014. During his tenure at Twenty First Century Group, Boyd offered strategic advice and planning to various clients in telecommunications, energy, transportation, agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare fields, among others.
A fifth generation farmer, Boyd graduated from Florida State University in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting, then served his country in Vietnam as a rifle platoon leader with the 101st Airborne Division, where he served alongside John Shepard. To this day, he continues to oversee the family farm operations on land that has been in his family since 1835.