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Military Veterans in Journalism Announces Top Ten Vets in Journalism for 2022

By October 10, 2022February 27th, 2023Resources

Military Veterans in Journalism is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Top Ten Vets in Journalism contest. This annual contest, started in 2021, is aimed at recognizing and honoring journalists who have made significant contributions to the field of journalism and who have served in the armed forces. It is a testament to the incredible talent and dedication of these journalists, and we are proud to have them as part of the MVJ community.

Please meet 2022’s Top Ten Veterans in Journalism:

Ben Kesling, a former Marine Corps infantry officer, is a Midwest correspondent with The Wall Street Journal in the Chicago bureau where he also focuses on domestic security and veterans issues. He was previously a national security and veterans issues reporter at the Journal’s bureau in Washington. He also has experience as a foreign and combat correspondent. Ben graduated from Wabash College and has a Master of Divinity degree from the Harvard Divinity School. He attended Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University.


Anthony Vazquez is a Marine Corps veteran and photojournalist for the Chicago Sun-Times where he concentrates on the city’s south and west sides. Previously, Vazquez was based out of Iowa, where he focused on the effects of Medicaid privatization, and Mexico, where he reported on rural life in the United States and Mexico. In the Marine Corps, Vazquez supervised flight line operations of multiple airfield control groups as well as aided in medical evacuations of injured personnel by securing and designating landing zones for helicopters. His experience in the Marine Corps confirmed the importance of documenting and sharing stories. After the military, Vazquez pursued journalism at the University of Iowa, where he served as photo editor of The Daily Iowan. He moved to Mexico post-graduation to continue documenting illegal immigration. While in Mexico, he was a stringer for The Associated Press and AP Images.


Ron Nixon is an American journalist. He was the homeland security correspondent for The New York Times, and the author of Selling Apartheid: South Africa’s Global Propaganda War. He joined the Associated Press as international investigations editor in early 2019, and was promoted to global investigations editor in March of that year


Dustin Jones is a news desk reporter at NPR, where he covers national and international issues like politics and COVID-19. He holds a Master’s in Documentary Production from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and has was MVJ’s first intern with NPR in 2020. He is a veteran Marine Corps sniper with multiple combat deployments. 

He produced a beautiful and moving documentary about veteran suicide while at Columbia. He specializes in breaking news and long-form narrative pieces on issues across the spectrum.


Kenny Holston is a staff photographer for the New York Times. Most recently Kenny has contributed to the NYT coverage of Voting Rights, Afghan Refugees fleeing Afghanistan, politics, the COVID-19 pandemic, the insurrection of the US Capitol, the 2021 Presidential Inauguration, Black Lives Matter movement and the 2020 presidential campaign. Kenny is a former USAF photojournalist who served for 14 years and was awarded the DoD Military Photographer of the Year award in 2015, and is a graduate of both the photojournalism program at Syracuse University and the Eddie Adams XXVII workshop.


Noelle is an award-winning journalist from Cincinnati, Ohio, who came to Coffee or Die Magazine following a fellowship from Military Veterans in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and interned with the US Army Cadet Command in college. She worked as a civilian journalist covering several units, including the 75th Ranger Regiment on Fort Benning, before she joined the military and served as a public affairs specialist attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. She deployed once as a media analyst for the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve in Kuwait.


Thomas Brennan is the founder of The War Horse, an award-winning nonprofit newsroom. He’s the author of Shooting Ghosts with bylines in the Center for Investigative Reporting, Vanity Fair, and on the front page of The New York Times. Brennan has received the prestigious Edward R. Murrow and Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Journalism Awards.


Paul Szoldra served as an active duty Marine from 2002 until 2010. In 2012, he founded the satirical publication The Duffel Blog. For the past 4 years he has been the Editor in Chief for Task & Purpose. This year he has launched a new publication, The Ruck, with a focus on the future of national security. 


Drew Lawrence is an Army veteran, reporter, and producer of’s Fire Watch podcast. He is a graduate of The George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, where he studied journalism. He hails from Massachusetts and is a proud New England sports fan.


Sara Samora is a Marine Corps veteran and the veterans reporter for Stars and Stripes. A native Texan, she previously worked at the Houston Business Journal and the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung. She also serves on the boards of Military Veterans in Journalism and the Houston Association of Hispanic Media Professionals.


These awardees were honored at the MVJ2022 convention, where they were recognized for their achievements and contributions to journalism. They have shown exceptional skills in storytelling and reporting and have used their experiences to bring attention to important issues facing veterans and military families.

About Military Veterans in Journalism:

Military Veterans in Journalism is a professional association that builds community for vets, supports their career growth, and advocates for diversifying newsrooms through hiring and promoting more vets. Learn more at