107th Member and Canisius Alum Named to 'Griffs Under 40' List
By Staff Sgt. Ryan Campbell, 107th Attack Wing
/ Published May 25, 2017
NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Jason Masker, the wing director of psychological health at the 107th Attack Wing here, was named to the “Griffs Under 40” list to be released by Canisius College, Buffalo, in July, 2017.
The list is featured every year in an issue of Canisius Magazine to recognize select alumni for accomplishments they have made. The criteria to be featured focuses on alumni that are all under the age of 40.
“It’s a pretty big honor,” said Masker. “Canisius has a pretty sizable alumni corps and to be recognized as somebody doing important things in their profession is humbling.”
As a student, he graduated in 2013 with a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling. The decision to take on this profession stems from what Masker experienced in his career in the Army.
“After I returned from a combat deployment in Iraq, I went home and started a business and pretty well for a number of years,” said Masker. “But then I noticed a lot of my friends I deployed with, and myself, had some adjustment issues coming back and with really thriving in the civilian world.”
With that, the decision was made to serve again.
“I feel it’s really important,” said Masker. “These wars have been taxing on the troops to say the least, over the last 17 years. People who have military experience and combat experience really need to step into these roles to help our service members keep up the fight.”
For Masker, that experience comes from enlisting in the Army in 1999 as a combat engineer, serving until 2005. During that time is when he saw action when deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 and 2, from 2003 to 2004.
“So then I got my degree and became a licensed mental health counselor with the intention of serving military service members,” said Masker. “As soon as I saw a position open in the military I jumped on it, and it turned out to be with the 107th.”
The work so far has been a great and humbling experience, said Masker. The hope is to continue this work with the 107th for as long as possible, said Masker.
It’s this idea of selfless service that ultimately got Masker selected for the “Griffs Under 40” list.
“Jason’s military service alone might have resulted in him being selected,” said Audrey Browka, the associate director of college communications. “But Jason stood out because of his decision to do something with purpose after his military career.”
A call for nominations is put out through Canisius Magazine and alumni newsletters to generate submissions for the list. Afterwards, a committee that was formed to compile the list go through the nominations.
“We asked readers to help us identify ‘innovative and inspiring young gradates’,” said Browka, “using their Canisius education ‘to make a difference in their chosen professions, their fields of academic research, in their communities, or all of the above’.”
For 2017, a total of 150 submissions were received, said Browka. The committee had a challenge in reviewing the submissions and out of the 150, identifying the 40 best and brightest, said Browka.
“Everyday at Canisius we receive calls or emails from people who want to share stories about young alumni making a name for themselves,” said Audrey Browka, the associate director of college communications. “That’s when the editors of Canisius Magazine, in collaboration with the college’s Alumni Engagement Office, decided to dedicate an entire issue of the magazine to young alumni doing great things.”
Wanting to give back, and embodying the values of giving back to their communities and the world, were just a few of ultimately several qualities that got Masker selected, said Browka.
“He wanted to help his fellow veterans struggling with mental health issues,” said Browka. “He’s now using his education to give back to the veteran community, of which he is a member.”
Masker always stresses the importance of talking about things when situations get tough without the fear of doing so impacting their military career.
“I’ve got your six,” said Masker.