USAF, WWE, MMA: The many acronym passions of Clear Path’s Jon Wanglund

Jon Wanglund wears two very distinctive hats.

As a fully commissioned non-denominational minister, he has provided religious services across the United States.

His national podcast “Wrestling With Reality” is a weekly show in which he and a co-host interview wrestling stars of the past, present and the future.

But those two passions are just a small part of Clear Path’s peer support coordinator.

Wanglund was born and raised in Endwell before departing the Southern Tier for the U.S. Air Force in 2002. After 11 years of active duty service, his career was cut short due to multiple serious knee injuries. (Most of his family has served in the military: his father served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, his grandfather served in the U.S. Navy during WWII, his uncle also served in the Navy, and his other grandfather – who served during WWII and the Korean War – retired as an officer in the U.S. Army.)

He returned to Endwell and purchased his childhood home from his parents. He resides there with his wife, Letty; their two children, James Levi and Cadance Virginia; two dogs, Simon and Sawyer; and four cats, Hoss, Benji, Abram and Thea. “I’m blessed to now raise my kids in the same home I lived in my whole childhood,” Wanglund said.

Wanglund’s wife is originally from the Philippines and her family still resides there. The residents of the Philippines are quite economically disadvantages compared to the U.S., Wanglund said. For comparison, the average family income in the Philippines is just $102.86 per week. In 2006, Jon and Letty bought a home in the Philippines for Letty’s sister, her husband, her seven children, and another sister who has various developmental disabilities and is cared for in this home. Seven years later, the archipelagic country was decimated by Typhoon Haiyan, which is tied with Typhoon Meranti for being the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone on record. At least 6,300 people in the Philippines alone were killed, and Wanglund’s sister-in-law’s home was destroyed.

“I started a fundraiser and campaign, and with the help of so many friends, family members, and strangers across the country we raised enough money to rebuild the home and give our family their home back again. It was a very humbling and beautiful thing that so many people were willing to contribute to help our family in their time of need,” Wanglund said.

His desire to help people has also manifested itself stateside.

“Several years ago, I was offered the privilege to go through nine months of in-depth and advanced education in religious studies,” he said. He was commissioned as a non-denominational minister, and in 2017 he started JC Ministry Services, which provides spiritual guidance and services to those seeking assistance currently free of charge. “I can proudly say I have provided (weddings, baptisms and funeral) services all across the United States in the past year and been able to assist hundreds of people through JC Ministry Services,” Wanglund added.

Wanglund holds multiple degrees, including two Associate’s degrees from the Community College of the Air Force, a Bachelor’s degree from Ashford University, and a Master’s degree from the University of Oklahoma.

Professional wrestling doesn’t often get mentioned in the same breath as rigorous academic pursuits, but Wanglund’s health and human services degrees play a role in his weekly podcast on the subject.

Wanglund is a self-described fan of pro wrestling and MMA (mixed martial arts), and he has “followed them in my free time for as long as I can remember. I love the entertainment and skill of both sports and have followed them religiously since I was 5 years old for pro wrestling and since I was 20 years old for MMA.”

He has outwardly expressed that passion by launching a national podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, Google Play and Podbean, titled “Wrestling With Reality.” His co-host is his best friend, who resides in Colorado, and together the pair air two weekly shows featuring interviews with wrestling’s heels and faces, from superstars of the past to those ready to emerge. Once per week they record a second episode which focuses “on current events, our opinions on what we are seeing throughout the world, and we do some fun and entertaining comedic stuff on various memes and celebrities. The show is not only entertaining with our guests we interview, but an outlet we provide to others with comedy, humor and positivity on topics that so many people need encouragement to battle though, such as addiction, loss, grief, and so many other topics. It’s why we call it ‘Wrestling With Reality,’” Wanglund said.

Recently, he has been studying video editing and sound board mixing to improve the show; a future purchase of better equipment will also increase the show’s potential. “It’s been a lot of fun and … its sound (is getting) better and better each time,” he added.

Wanglund was first introduced to Clear Path in 2017, when its plans for expansion in Broome County were announced.

“I saw a job posting at the end of 2017 for the position I hold now, and the rest is history,” he said. “I love to help people and I was so excited to work for an organization that wants to help Veterans and continue to grow the services they offer each year.

“It excited me to be a part of such an awesome organization and team. I can’t wait to see what the future holds and how much good we all can do for those men and women in need of our services.”

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