Regis faculty mentored co-leader of Invictus Project

November 07, 2019

three men sitting at a table at regis university

A nonprofit that serves military veterans and launched at Regis University has received a $100,000 cash infusion from a veteran injured by a roadside bomb.

Eric Stoneking, an Air Force bomb technician who was physically injured in Iraq by a roadside bomb in 2006, has donated $100,000 to help the Invictus Project further its research into innovative mental health treatments, such as hyperbaric oxygen therapy. He was the company’s second test subject and now its first stock investor.

The Invictus Project, dedicated to treating veterans and first responders who have traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and mental health disorders such as post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, was conceived by Sam Peterson, a veteran in an undergraduate class at Regis.

Peterson, who graduated in 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, worked with Ken Sagendorf, director of Regis’ Anderson College of Business Innovation Center, in his undergraduate capstone course to develop a business model to provide better mental health care for veterans. Peterson returned to Regis last fall to earn his MBA.

“Invictus is the Anderson stewardship vision in action,” said Sagendorf.

The undergraduate classwork, run in the Gronowski Innovation Incubator, supported Peterson to co-found the nonprofit Invictus Project and an entrepreneurial arm, Invictus Health Inc., with fellow U.S. Army bomb technician Jeff Haugland.

Last year the duo entered the Anderson College of Business’ second Innovation Challenge, a “Shark Tank”-style competition spanning six months in which teams compete for startup funds, entrepreneurial assistance and work space. They won the contest’s $1,000 third-place award but netted a $10,000 donation from a contest spectator. They also earned access to Regis’ extended accelerator, The Magis Factory, where they were introduced to an ecosystem of support. 

Prior to the recent announcement, the team had raised nearly $100,000 from the Innovation Challenge and entrepreneurial contacts made by participating in The Magis Factory accelerator.

Stoneking’s financial contribution grows out of his desire to help other veterans.

“While I appreciate civilians helping us, it’s important for veterans to step up to help veterans,” Stoneking said.

Stoneking said the treatments he received through the Invictus Project helped him regulate his emotions — he’s less reactive and verbally aggressive — and improve his sleep.

“This started out as a way to help ourselves. It then became, ‘How do we help our brothers?’” said Haugland, noting that at least one of his own military friends had died by suicide. “Later, we realized how big TBI really is. It’s a prevalent issue in multiple populations.”

Established in 1877, Regis University is a premier, globally engaged institution of higher learning in the Jesuit Catholic tradition that prepares leaders to live productive lives of faith, meaning and service. One of 27 Jesuit universities in the nation, Regis has four campus locations in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs and extensive online program offerings with more than 11,000 enrolled students. For more information, visit www.regis.edu.