DJ Skelton grew up in Elk Point, SD. He briefly attended the University of South Dakota before embarking upon an unorthodox path of serving our Nation over the past two decades. His energy, leadership, sense of adventure and inspiration has gained him National and Global recognition.
DJ enlisted in the United States Army in 1996 as an interrogator and is a graduate of the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC). In 1999 he was nominated to attend the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY, and commissioned in 2003 as a 2LT. After graduating from Infantry Officer Basic Course and Airborne school, DJ was severely wounded in November, 2004, while leading a rifle infantry platoon in Charlie Company, 1-5 IN BN, 1st BDE of the 25th ID in close combat in Fallujah, Iraq.
Since his recovery at Walter Reed, DJ dedicated himself to advancing the causes of wounded vets, authoring Our Hero Handbook, a comprehensive guide to assist wounded service members and their families in their recovery and rehabilitation. DJ also served as a military advisor to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England on veterans’ affairs and care for wounded service members. DJ returned to Monterey, CA in 2008 to command Echo Company of the 229th MI BN at DLIFLC. He was also the Associate Dean for the Middle East School. He returned to the Pentagon in 2010 to serve as a Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff ADM Mike Mullen, advising on veteran transition issues, wounded warrior policy and improving services to military families. DJ also served as a Non-Resident Military Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, leading the “silent wounds” project on post-traumatic growth for the center.
After six years of continual surgeries, rehab and recovery, DJ returned to the Infantry, completed the Infantry Captains Career Course at Ft. Benning, GA, was assigned to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (CR) in Vilseck, Germany, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 as the Commander of Comanche Troop, 1st Squadron, 2nd CR in Panjway, Afghanistan. Upon redeployment, DJ was selected to serve as a China Foreign Area Officer (FAO). He completed Command and General Staff College and spent a year in Beijing, China conducting in-region training as a FAO.
DJ is fluent in Chinese, is one of the youngest graduates of Harvard’s Senior Executive Fellowship program, and is the Co-Founder of Paradox Sports, a non-profit organization that provides inspiration, opportunities, and adaptive equipment to the disabled community, empowering their pursuit of a life of excellence.
DJ currently serves on active duty and is attending the Naval Postgraduate School pursuing a Master’s in International Relations. He lives in Monterey, CA with his wife Tucker and son Dakota.