A Marine Raider’s Story of Recovery and Path to MedTech Entrepreneurship (Part II)

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“I’m no different than anyone else. When we go through transition, we go through these cycles of grief, self-pity, doubt, confusion, and all these emotions that are normal – that's human. The challenge is understanding them, embodying them, and rapidly turning them into action. How do I devise a plan to act and move forward?”

Hit by a sniper’s bullet at the pinnacle of his military career, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Derek Herrera turned misfortune into his life’s work when he was paralyzed from the chest down.

His military career came to a halt, but his life did not. He decided to leverage his experience with paralysis in the business world, getting a Master of Business Administration and then launching a medical technology business.

In this two-part series, Derek joins FourBlock Podcast hosts Lindsey Pollak and Mike Abrams for an inspiring and candid conversation about his service as a Marine Raider, his injury, recovery, and his journey to starting his own medical technology company. We encourage every transitioning service member to listen to Derek’s story to understand how he overcame the incredible challenges he faced in his transition and how his positive outlook translated to success.

In the second of two episodes, Derek recounts how he came to start his own medical technology business and shares actionable advice for any veterans who are considering starting their own company. He also discusses his work with MedTechVets, a nonprofit to help transitioning service members and military veterans find meaningful employment in medical device and life science companies.

Derek is the Founder and CTO of UroDev Medical (formerly Spinal Singularity), an early-stage medical device company that designs devices to improve the quality of life for people living with Spinal Injury. He created Spinal Singularity after he was injured while serving as a Marine Raider in Afghanistan. After medically retiring from the Marine Corps, Derek graduated from the Executive MBA program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Derek serves as President & Chairman of MedTechVets (formerly MVPvets), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assists and prepares transitioning service members and military veterans for meaningful employment in medical device and life science companies. MedTechVets’ network has grown to nearly 100 life science and medical device companies, hundreds of mentors, and thousands of veterans. The organization’s programming is offered at no cost to its participants. He is also the Founder of Habit Camera™, the first low-cost, wireless camera purpose-built for skin inspection and telehealth.

Derek currently serves as the Board President of the Marine Raider Foundation and Board Member of the American Technion Society – Western Region. He resides in San Clemente, CA with his wife Maura and their sons Hudson and Hunter.


Welcome to the FourBlock Podcast, a show that examines veteran career transition and the military-civilian divide in the workplace. General Charles Krulak coined the term “Three Block War” to describe the nature of 21st-century military service defined by peace-keeping, humanitarian aid, and full combat. But what happens next? Veterans are often unprepared to return home and begin new careers. We call this the Fourth Block.

FourBlock is a national non-profit that has supported thousands of transitioning service members across the nation in beginning new and meaningful careers.

Mike Abrams (@fourblock) is an Afghanistan veteran, FourBlock founder, and author of two military transition books. He’ll be representing the military transition perspective. Lindsey Pollak (@lindsaypollak) is a career and workplace expert and New York Times bestselling author of three career advice books. Lindsey will be representing the civilian perspective of this issue.

Veterans, explore new industries and make the right connections. Find a career that fits your calling. Join us at fourblock.org. Sponsor our program or host a class to equip more of our veterans at fourblock.org/donate.

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