A great way to get me motivated to do something, is to explain how and why I won't be able to accomplish it. I was the scrawniest kid who had never played football before. I had family start a pool where they choose a day when I would drop out. The participation was high. I was told if I made it I would get the money. While I looked forward to receiving the money, I was most interested in proving them wrong in doubting me. I made it.
Years later, I began to think about joining the Navy SEALS. I looked into the process and began talking about the option. Again, family and friends were doubting me. But I made it to the program. I was unable to finish and the accident after made a second try impossible. But few try to even start, and few make it to the actual training. Yet I did.
Fast forward to now. I'm exploring options on how to reach my goal. One option is to fund-raise the money to build a boat by hand and take vet's out on it after. Unsurprisingly, I am being doubted again, by some friends, family, and other disabled vets. I almost am beginning to doubt myself. And that clinched it. I will prove to everyone and myself that just because I am a disabled vet, it doesn't mean I am unable to accomplish big things. Hopefully that will inspire others like me to not stop dreaming big.
In the short time after I decided to make this my goal I have already done so much. I am coming up with a plan to make this work and will follow through to completion. Just watch.
One of the hardest parts about my TBI is the age at which it happened. I was not yet at a point where I had been able to accomplish much of anything. After the disability I was unable to find a career, finish school, or find a life goal beyond surviving.
I tried so many different things to become more than a survivor. It wasn't until I found the freedom of boats that I found a goal that I could actually reach. One where I could give back to those that have given me so much and also help those not unlike myself.
I hit a road block and now that goal is also in doubt. Funding is a difficult thing for us disabled vets. We are unable to work and so are unable to earn more money by just working harder. It is frustrating. But I am trying to find a way to prove that I and those like me are more than just survivors. That we can do something big. We may just need a little help along the way. For we are more than merely survivors.
It's been almost a month since I've been out on the water. With no end in sight to the issues between my brother and I, my return to the water for this fishing season is questionable. It's quite heartbreaking as I had so many goals set.
But I can't let that stop me from pressing on with my goals. It may mean that it will take longer. The route to my return is unknown. But I am working on it. And it will happen.
I want to prove to other disabled veterans that no matter the obstacle, or how bleak things may look, to always fight. Never give up. You'll have bad days where you want to. You'll have people doubting whether you can succeed. You may even start doubting yourself. But remember, you're living with something few can understand and are still here! You're still in the fight! That proves the determination you have. Use that and find a way. I know I will.
Today marks the 16th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Anyone who was alive and old enough remembers where they were at on the morning of September 11, 2001. I was starting my senior year of high school wondering if I wanted to go in the military or continue on to college.
I was getting ready for school that morning. I was up a little earlier then normal to finish some homework. I had just got dressed and walked into the living room. My mom had the tv on the news while she watched from the kitchen and ate breakfast. I sat down on the couch to put my shoes on and saw a live shot from New York.
The anchor was talking about an accident where a plane crashed into one of the towers. It was unknown at that point what kind of plane and how on earth a plane did not see the tower as it was a clear day. Suddenly, a new plane entered the camera frame. It travelled behind the building previously struck and flew into the adjacent tower. It was now obvious That we are watching a terrorist attack live on air.
I sat with my mom and watched as smoke and flames began billowing out of the towers. Debris falling to the ground below. People hanging out Windows, trapped. Occasionally the debris falling looked to much like falling bodies, it wasn't until after that I found out it was indeed bodies and they were alive. After what seemed like an eternity the towers fell.
I made it to school shortly after. It was a strange solemn day. No work was done, Just lots of talking and processing. Towards the end of the day I had made up my mind. I was going to join the military, college could wait.
As I sit here reflecting on the attacks and all the people lost that day, it reminds me to live life to our fullest. Try not to put off something or someone important today, because there is no guarantee of tomorrow. And to always tell those important to you that you love them even if your angry at something they did.
In June of 2016 I attended a basic sailing camp for disabled veterans in San Diego, CA. It was put on by the Warrior Sailing Program with generous support from the yacht club it was held at, San Diego Yacht Club, and another local club, Southwestern Yacht Club. Everyone with the warrior sailing program(coaches and staff) and both yacht clubs were extremely friendly and inviting. They went out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable and a part of the group. Just an amazing group of people.
We started with classroom instruction. We learned a lot thanks to Ben's drawings and the input from the rest of the coaches. We also hit the water in j-22 sailboats provided by SDYC. My crew was all Navy with Guy Mossman as our coach. We kicked butt and led most of the races. However, the final race was a poker run. While we did finish first, we did not have the winning hand. But we had a great time nonetheless.
This was my introduction to sailing. I had been on a few small boats prior to this, but mainly ski boats on a lake. I thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong. This was a transformative camp for me. My love for the ocean, through surfing and going to the beach growing up, was magnified by the freedom I felt while in command. I found a mode of transportation that did not leave me with debilitating pain. It was wonderful.
But it was also a lot of work managing jib or main sail. It intensified my pain more than if I had just worked the tiller. It was still very much worth it, but if I work the lines instead of just drive I'm left in pain which means I can only do this activity sparingly. Unfortunately that sort of makes joining someone's crew difficult. But I've had a few opportunities that were set up with Warrior Sailing Program help and the one I could make it to was awesome. (Thanks again Brian and the crew of Ruckus, a 10m Flying Tiger out of Dana Point, for taking me along. It was an excellent time!)
I strongly encourage other veterans to give this program a shot and everyone else to consider donating to this wonderful organization. You won't regret it!