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America’s Military Heroes Are Serving Today on Battlefields Much Closer to Home

America’s Military Heroes Are Serving Today on Battlefields Much Closer to Home

A triple whammy of pandemic, civil unrest and

political turmoil is motivating many veterans


By Chrisanne Gordon, MD


As a rehabilitation physician focused on healing the physical and emotional wounds of military veterans, especially those still struggling with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) suffered in their service to America, I am very aware of new challenges facing so many of them today.  Nearly 750,000 American heroes, injured in Iraq and Afghanistan, still struggle daily with these issues.  But now a harsh new reality is making health care, education and employment even more challenging than ever.


I call this the Triple Whammy of 2020, a perfect storm of disruption that’s brought us a deadly pandemic and economic shutdown, followed by civil unrest and protests in our streets – all made worse by loud and divisive political debate. Yet in the face of these challenges virtually all of the returned servicemen and women I know are revealing a common strength.  Described in one word, that strength is “service,” our veterans’ commitment to serving their families, their local communities, and their nation.  It’s a commitment that doesn’t end when these men and women leave the military.


It’s revealing that so many of the healthcare workers, first responders, law enforcement and other front-line workers today are veterans who were led to those professions by their passion for service.  Joining with active-duty military and National Guard called in to assist, they are serving their nation today on a very different kind of battlefield.


Thousands of other veterans are also stepping up to offer voluntary but equally important supports, such as delivering meals, working in food banks or assisting the elderly and others in need. For the injured veterans I know, these opportunities to serve – to make a difference – are important steps in their rehabilitation.


The combined impact of pandemic, recession, civil unrest and political turmoil has produced a new wave of confusion, anxiety, depression and hopelessness  to all of us.  But to veterans already faced with lingering symptoms of their service-related injuries, it adds an entirely different level of confusion, a burden you and I can never truly fathom, but one we need to begin to understand.


All of this has increased my commitment to the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, a non-profit organization I founded with a goal of seeing that combat veterans TBI and PTSD  receive expert medical care, rehabilitation and community support services they need for a successful return to civilian life.  Our goal is to keep our former military service members in “service” to their families and communities by collaborating for their brain health.  In these days of Triple Whammy, that’s never been more important.


As Americans, we proudly bear allegiance to our “land of the free and home of brave.”  But we must never forget that we are privileged to live in the land of the free because of the brave – those men and women who put their lives of the line for our freedom who continue to serve us long after they’ve returned home.


Today’s members of the military, our  veterans, their families – the most diverse, the most united and the most determined American resource.  Triple Whammy? They’ve survived worse.  Let’s follow them to freedom.


# # #


Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, author of Turn the Lights On! is an Ohio-based physician who has personally struggled to recover from a brain injury, an experience that inspired her to create the Resurrecting Lives Foundation, to help military veterans recover from TBI.

RLF Salutes Thoroughbred Racing and NBC’s Coverage of the 152nd Belmont Stakes

RLF Salutes Thoroughbred Racing and NBC’s Coverage of the 152nd Belmont Stakes

On June 20th, 2020, the 152nd Belmont Stakes was run. NBC Sports reporter Tim Layden covered the famous horse race with a thought provoking and deeply touching article, available here.

Our founder, Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, was so moved by the eloquent connection made between horse racing and the spirit of the nation that she just had to reach out. Read her message to NBC is below:


I have a…Compliment

It’s about something on NBC.

Subject: Tim Layden – Sports writer/healer

Message: As a physician working with our young veterans struggling with Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder I have a heartfelt THANK YOU to Mr. Tim Layden and NBC sports for their coverage of the Belmont Stakes. Mr. Layden, with the recent events in our nation: the pandemic of illness both physical and societal, our veterans non-profit foundation has been assisting with a huge uptick in the amount of anxiety, despair, hopelessness and exhaustion in our young veterans. I have, in fact, grown increasingly concerned about the brain health of many veterans who have been facing further isolation since early 2020. As you know, the US military is the most diverse population in our nation, and these young men/women are willing to give their lives for their brothers and sisters, as well as for us, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other distinct marking used to divide populations. They depend on each other; they offer their lives in our service.

In rehab medicine we learn, and I instinctively feel, the healing power of horses. Their strength, patience, competitive spirit, beauty and sheer determination are all attributes that our veterans, themselves, display. You, Mr. Layden, by your amazing opening segment about the Belmont Stakes, brought our veterans, and, in fact, our nation together. Your piece was the most beautifully written and the most engaging and encouraging segment witnessed in years; a landmark literary moment.

KUDOS to you, Mr. Layden. You not only calmed our veterans; you calmed our nation with phases like:
“eerie silence captured the mood of an uneasy nation” followed by AMERICA WATCHES and that even something “different and novel” can be a good thing. PURE LITERARY GENIUS

The mood of our veterans changed with your words. Your command of the writing as well as your command of the presentation was that of compassionate leadership.

You instilled the most important human emotion on Saturday, Mr. Layden, you gave us HOPE. Many thanks for your inspirational words and your exceptional delivery.

With sincere admiration for your talent, and gratitude for your timely message,

Chrisanne Gordon, MD
Founder, Resurrecting Lives Foundation
Dublin, Ohio


Check out the photos below from Resurrecting Lives Foundation at the 2019 Santa Anita Breeder’s Cup

City Barbeque Does it Again….Support Our Veterans With a New Tumbler

City Barbeque Does it Again….Support Our Veterans With a New Tumbler

City BBQ is once again partnering with Resurrecting Lives Foundation to raise money through special new-year tumbler sales.

During the first quarter of 2020, the restaurant is offering a new artist-designed limited-edition refillable tumbler for just $10. The cup, which sells

out early every year, features free refills through March 31, 2020 and is double-walled and BPA free.  All proceeds from the sale of the cup will be donated to Resurrecting Lives Foundation.

“Resurrecting Lives Foundation is so pleased to partner again with City BBQ on their tumbler sales,” said Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, RLF Founder. “Funds raised in past years have enabled RLF to provide services for veterans with TBI transitioning back to civilian life, scholarships to receive training in meditation, and support collaborations with colleges and universities throughout the country, just, to mention a few of our initiatives. We thank you in advance for your purchase of one of these tumblers!”

This promotion to benefit RLF is happening at all 38 City BBQ in six states. Visit the City BBQ blog at

Ambassador Spotlight: Dean Krance

Ambassador Spotlight: Dean Krance

A “Question and Answer” Session with Long-Time Resurrecting Lives Foundation Ambassador and Supporter, Dean Krance of Amvets Post 26.

  1. Tell us about your military service. A few years after high school, two of my very best friends entered the military. Despite being in an age where men did not want to serve or be drafted, I had a feeling of not wanting to miss out on the experiences my two friends were about to have. My dad was a highly decorated Purple Heart recipient from his European combat service in WWII. This instilled in me a feeling of wanting to test my own mind and see if I too could make the grade. So, on July 12, 1972, I volunteered for the draft for a two-year period. I was a big guy and had to lose 75 lbs. in order to be accepted. But I made it and soon thereafter found myself on a bus to Ft. Knox, Ky, for basic training. After basic, I was on another bus to Ft. Lee, Virginia for Quartermaster school. Finally, in January of 1973, I was assigned to White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico for an eighteen-month duty station.
  2. What is your most vivid military memory? During my discharge on Friday, July 1974, my roommate turned off the alarm clock, and I missed my flight from El Paso, Texas which was at 6AM. After scrambling around, I was able to get another flight out at noon. My Aunt and cousin, who were to pick me up in Bismark, North Dakota at noon, had to wait until 10PM.
  3. Was TBI a topic that was discussed when you served? No, TBI wasn’t heard of back then.
  4. Tell us about your experience serving as a Richland County Veteran Service Office Commissioner. Originally, I was approached to fill out the remainder of a 5-year term due to a death on the Commission. I was the first Vietnam era veteran appointed to the Commission. I am now in my 23rd year serving and have spent 18 of that as the Commission Secretary. Additionally, I have been the District 2 President twice for the Ohio State Association of Veterans Service Commissioners.
  5. You are a long-time member of Amvets Post 26. What should anyone thinking about joining their local VSO know? Amvets Post 26 is the largest Veterans Post in Richland County, both in size and membership. We have 4 groups that comprise our post: Amvets, Auxiliary, Sons, and Riders. We work together sharing and hosting events and projects. I think any discharged veteran should belong to at least one veteran’s organization, if for nothing else, to receive updated information on news and benefits that may be coming to them!
  6. What people may not know is that you are a locally famous musician! How long have you been playing the drums? I am a self-taught musician. At the age of 14, I took 6 snare drum lessons. I soon wanted to play a whole kit but my teacher told me I had to take 3 years of snare lessons, to which I responded “I can’t wait that long!”. After he told me that I would never amount to any kind of a drummer, I spent the next year practicing on barstools, beer cases and wire hangers as cymbals. The first check I ever wrote was for used drum kit for $100. In1975 I started playing in bands and just retired a few years ago, although I occasionally sit in with friends’ bands. One year for a Resurrecting Lives Foundation fundraiser, I put together an “All Star R&B Revue”, which backed the Soul Men, at Amvets Post 26. I still attend open stage jam nights on occasion!

Dean is also the American Legion Dept. of Ohio Golf Chairman, Secretary, Past Post16 Commander and much, much more!

Team Chivington: Riding for Veterans

Team Chivington: Riding for Veterans

Doug Chivington seems to be motivated by one thing: helping veterans. Each week he gets on his bike and rides over 2000 miles to build his endurance and train for his upcoming competition. Just like the postal service, through rain, wind and snow- you can find Doug out on the road, cycling.

You may be asking, “What drives someone to do that?”, especially during those cold Ohio winters. Doug has one response for those who want to know, “veterans”. Both of Doug’s sons have served over seas and one is currently deployed. Those who are part of a military family know that when a loved one is in the service, the whole family is enlisted. While not a veteran himself, Doug decided long ago that he wanted to find a way to give back to the veteran community, especially after his own sons’ experiences. So, one day, he decided to combine his passion of cycling with his desire to give back. Team Chivington was born in 2019 and has been gaining speed ever since.

Fast forward to February 2020, where Doug competed in a 24-hour race in Florida. The Sebring 24 Hour hosted by the World Ultra Cycling Association was a 250-mile race with world class athletes. Doug placed third in his division and best of all, raised money for veterans along the way.

Since founding Team Chivington, Doug has raised over $6700 for Resurrecting Lives Foundation. He collects donations from businesses and friends in his community, but also from complete strangers. We at Resurrecting Lives are so proud and honored to be his non-profit of choice and cannot thank him enough for his work. To donate to the cause, visit and click the “Go Doug” tab or TEXT “GO DOUG” to 44-321

Twenty-Four Hours of Honor

Twenty-Four Hours of Honor

This Veterans Day, Resurrecting Lives Foundation (RLF) set out to uniquely honor those who so bravely served our country. Using social media to reach a wider audience, RLF created our first annual “24 Hours of Honor.” Every hour, a different veteran was honored with a tweet and Facebook post from RLF’s social media channels, sharing their photo and story. Nominations were collected through in the weeks leading up to Veterans Day. Service members from far and wide were nominated by friends, family members and colleagues and represented Hawaii, New York and everything in-between. We continue to honor these heroes, and all other US veterans.

SFC Natalie Dorris

SFC Dorris, of St. Helena, CA, is a Healthcare NCO at Fort Polk, LA where she serves as a Treatment Platoon Sergeant and a SHARP Victim Advocate at the Brigade Support Battalion.

SGT Randy Taylor

Randy was an Army Supply Specialist and deployed to Somalia and then later to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

LTC (Ret.) Erica DiJoseph

LTC DiJoseph was an Army Licensed Clinical Social Worker who served in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and as Chief of Behavioral Health Sciences at AMEDD Center and School.

Dr. John R. Evans, M.D.

Dr. Evans was a lifelong resident of Marysville Ohio, U.S. Air Force Veteran, respected clinician and accomplished administrator.

SSG Jay Musson

SSG Musson is President of the Musson Foundation and former Army Staff Sergeant who fought gallantly in the Mekong Delta in 1968/69 and who received the Bronze Star for his service.

Colonel (Ret.) Skylar Burgess

After nearly 30 years in the U.S. Air Force and USAF reserve, Col. Burgess now serves as the lead Client Service Partner at Deloitte and continues to serve his fellow service members on the Board of Directors for Resurrecting Lives Foundation.

Brian Clark

Brian Clark, of Davis, Illinois served in the Air Force and is a veteran with the 90th Missile Security Forces.

U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson

Congressman Johnson is an Air Force Veteran fighting diligently on behalf of veterans in our nation’s capitol.

SPC Nadine Garcia

SPC Gardia, of Montebello CA, is an Aviation Operations Specialist in the Army Reserves who serves her fellow veterans by volunteering in her community.

Air Force Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Don Accamando

Director of the office of Military and Veterans Students at Duquesne University, Don leads the charge on addressing veterans’ issues at Duquesne.

US Congressman Steve Stivers

Congressman Stivers serves proudly in D.C. and in the Ohio National Guard as a Brigadier General.

SGT Jason Valentin-Diaz

Jason, of Las Vegas Nevada, is an Army Veteran who deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007 and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2010.

SSG Patrick Witt

SSG Witt, of Hubbard Ohio, is a former Army Medic who deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti during his 20 years of service.

Congressman Warren Davidson

Congressman Davidson is a former Army Ranger and officer now serving Ohio and our nation’s veterans on Capitol Hill.

CPT Noelle Durfee

CPT Durfree, of Hicksville, NY, is a former Army Medical Service Corps Captain who deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and now serves her community as a Physician’s Assistant.

Paul Vogel

Paul, of Merrillville, Indiana, was a Vietnam Veteran and a champion of veteran causes for all branches and eras of service.

Dr. Ernest Mazzaferri, Sr.

Dr. Mazzaferri, of Henderson, Nevada, was a devoted husband, accomplished physician, and member of both the Air Force and U.S. Army Reserves. Dr. Mazzaferri had an uncompromised drive to serve his country and his patients.

U.S. Congressman Brad Wenstrup

Congressman Wenstrup, an Army officer and Iraq War Veteran, is continuing the fight for veterans representing Ohio’s 2nd district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

CPT Seth Freshly

CPT Freshly is a Purple Heart Recipient, former active duty soldier with the 10th Mountain and 3rd Infantry Divisions, and current Ohio National Guardsman, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation.

SGT Cameron Meddock

SGT Meddock, of Spearman Texas, was animage2 Army Ranger, patriot, and father who died January 17th, 2019 from injuries sustained in Afghanistan.

CW4 (Ret.) Donnie Furr

Chief Furr, of Jackson Kentucky, was a Health Services Maintenance Warrant Officer in the US Army and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2008 and Operation Enduring Freedom in 2013.

SGT Giovanni Berdejo-Gallegos

SGT Berdejo-Gallegos, of Fountain Valley California, is an Army Veteran of Afghanistan who authored the book “One Angry Veteran” to help his fellow vets.

Grateful for Military Families

Grateful for Military Families

From the Board: 

Paul Carlson, Secretary to the Board of Directors;
Senior Consultant to the Global Institute for the Study of Intelligent Communities, Dublin Ohio

Paul has served on the RLF Board of Directors as Secretary since 2016 and brings years of experience in information technology project management, entrepreneurship and leadership to the table.  After holding impactful roles at the State of Ohio Treasurer’s Office,  Paul went on to serve as the first IT Project Manager for the City of Columbus and facilitated Columbus becoming recognized as the 2015 Most Intelligent Community in the World by the Intelligent Community Foundation. Paul has participated in panel discussions across the country as an expert on smart cities and transportation. 

Paul earned a BA in Political Science and an MA in History from Youngstown State University, and pursued an Engineering degree at the US Naval Academy.

Sharing stories helps to bring meaning into our lives. They also help to bind generations together and they can often solidify friendships. I remember my father telling me how proud he was, when he was nine years old, watching his brother Carl march down the main street of Ridgway, Pennsylvania in the welcoming home parade at the end of WWI.

Paul R. Carlson served in WWII as a SeaBee in Guam as an enlisted man. He told his brother-in-law Ted Tate that he would volunteer to serve in his place if Ted would agree to stay home with his youngest sister Martha. As the story goes, my dad, who was not married at the time and was living in Akron, Ohio, proceeded to get drunk one night, parked outside what he thought was an Army recruiting station, and ended up joining the Navy by mistake. At the age of thirty-four, he volunteered primarily to make sure that his sister would not become a widow. His nickname was pops! Because of his war experiences, he could never buy any other car but an American one.

During the last twenty years of my father’s life, my three brothers and I would spend Memorial Day with him traveling to his hometown of Ridgway. We would leave my father’s house in Youngstown precisely at 6:30 am to meet our cousins John and Paul Frederick for breakfast at the Pennsy Restaurant in Ridgway at 8:30 am. From there, we’d go to plant flowers at the Oakmont Cemetery on family grave sites. Our next stop was to go to the Lone Pine Lodge hunting camp that was built by Glen Blakesley, my father’s cousin Oscar Nelson, my father, and Bob Plaster (see picture). We would then return to the cemetery for the Memorial Day celebration. It was always a wonderful event with much of the small community attending, paying tribute to our fallen heroes. Serving in the military is a big deal especially when you are from a small town.

Every year, we made the same stops, in the same order. After the grave site celebration we’d stop at the VFW,  where my father’s name is on a plaque that hangs on the wall, being one of the founding members. An outdoor cookout at Cousin John and Andrea’s house, on Vernon Avenue, was always the highlight of the day, talking with Pastor Horowitz, neighbors and relatives. The final stop before our drive home, with me as the designated driver, was to visit cousin Lilian Mackalay and (large) family in Johnsonburg. My father kept Lilian’s letter that she wrote to him when he was serving overseas. We heard my father tell the same stories, year after year and they became more precious every time he repeated them, each year with more enthusiasm.  It seems that military traditions became woven through the fabric of our lives.

My oldest brother Dave served four years in the Air Force and my brother Don, a 1972 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, recently retired after serving twenty-three years in the Navy. I left Annapolis, Class of 1973, after spending two years, primarily because I did not understand the Vietnam War and believed that I could not lead men in a war that I did not believe in. Now, it appears to experts who have studied the war, that we totally misunderstood the Vietnamese culture and caused irreparable harm by our ignorance of history. Yet I have the greatest respect for the military who served out of honor for their country.

Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, the founder of RLF, and I both attended Cardinal Mooney High School in Youngstown, Ohio and when she asked me to serve on the Board in 2016, I felt a special obligation to say yes. What I enjoy most about being on the Board is the ability to meet veterans at military gatherings and, together with the other Board members, help those vets who suer from TBI.

As an RLF Board Member, I am grateful for military families and for the sacrifice that is being carried by fewer and fewer of those families, and especially for the veterans who continue to serve our country by actively participating in the political process by serving in oce, irrespective of party aliation. 

If It’s Given to You, You Need to Give It Back

If It’s Given to You, You Need to Give It Back

Randy and Brenda Johnson just wanted to start up a little fun- a regular country get-together for friends and neighbors to have a good time.  They recall sitting in the Bollinger County (Missouri) Country Club Bar and Restaurant, chatting about their idea in 2013.  Their buddy, Warren Miller, liked the idea, and figured they ought to have some seed money…. so he sent them a check for $1000.  With money in hand, they realized the idea was “starting to get real now.”

Brenda suggested that since they were getting organized, they should use the opportunity to do something for charity.  Another buddy had a Down Syndrome family member, so the first several Scopus Family and Friends Fests benefitted the Down Syndrome Association of the Heartland.  Randy and Brenda’s idea blossomed because “our kids are healthy, so we need to give back to others who aren’t so fortunate.”

Randy has been giving back virtually all of his life, starting with his enlistment through the Delayed Entry Program in the US Army in March, 1972.  As soon as high school was finished, he turned up for Boot Camp at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.  His training readied him to be a Vulcan crewman headed for the Vietnam War, but by the time he had achieved his MOS (military occupation specialty), the Army had pulled the Vulcans out of Vietnam.  Of course, the Army found other things for him to do, including several stints on “canvas duty” – or recruitment – as well as some turns driving for officers at McGregor Range in New Mexico and Fort Lewis, Washington. 

After the service, Randy built his skills so that he could do just about anything.  He trained in TV and radio repair and refrigeration and air conditioning; he was a welder for a while and had a TV/radio shop.  “When the first cable company came to town,” he recalls, “I worked for them.  Then I worked for a company that made the big dishes; I installed them.”   Randy managed a Western Auto store, and then discovered he had a knack for building houses.  He likes to say, “my wife got to live in 12 new houses- we’d build them, live in them, then build another and move on.”

Oh, and he was also in the National Guard until 1981.

The physical work of building that he enjoyed so much was curtailed by an accident in the 80s – a log fell on him – and he’s had to adjust his approach to the world a little bit.  But Randy and Brenda can’t sit still: they moved to “town” – Jackson, Missouri – about a year ago, but soon realized that town life was not for them – so they’re back in Bollinger County.  They bought the very country club where their idea was born in 2013 and are turning it into another home.  And of course it’s the perfect place to host the (now) annual Scopus and Sedge Fest, renamed in honor of their first benefactor, Warren Miller, after he died suddenly a few years ago.

“Maybe,” they say, “we’ll slow down a little after the country club project is done.”

Resurrecting Lives Foundation Board member Stan Crader, a lifelong friend of the Johnsons, had a hoot of a time at the 3rd Scopus Fest, and asked Randy if he’d ever thought about raising funds for other organizations.  Stan outlined the mission and vision of RLF, and Randy and Brenda were all in.  The Fest, which continues to grow, has donated half of its proceeds to RLF every year since the 4th Fest in 2016, splitting the funds with charities that help kids. 

What drives their generosity?  Randy and Brenda don’t hesitate to say, “if it’s given to you, you need to give it back.”

That spirit seems to be in the drinking water around Scopus and Sedgewickville.  A large  group of neighbors come together to plan and stage the Fest each year, and have a heck of a good time doing it.  About 30 of them give their time, both before the event and on the day.  Randy calls them the backbone of the Fest.  The volunteers canvas local businesses and residents for donations to auction, organize games and competitions (don’t forget “Chicken Poop Bingo”) and pull together publicity.

Randy – who plays a little music himself every now and then (like the guitar, banjo, and mandolin) touts the volunteerism of three local band members who attended last year and played to entertain the crowds.  This year they each showed up with their full bands to hold a full-blown concert: Curtis Cook & the Damn Band, Silver Fox, and Route 67.  Guitars signed by these guys, and by Travis Tritt, and by the Lynard Skynard Band, have brought in some fine prices at auction at the Fest over the last few years.

And did you hear the one about the loaves and fishes?  The Fest continues to see relatively the same number of attendees – mostly from Bollinger County and its surroundings- but continues to raise more money for charities.  Huh.

Randy’s had a few surgeries (17 to be exact) since his run-in with the log, but Brenda points out that her health has been great, so clearly they were meant to be together.  They credit being on the go all the time, with a little rest in between, as the tonic for keeping them moving. And of course there’s that giving back thing.

They’re looking forward to a relaxing Thanksgiving Day, when they band together with other friends to serve free meals at the local VFW.  They’ll play a little music, clear a few plates, and enjoy the giving.  They’ll do the same on Christmas Day.

Thank you, Randy and Brenda, over and over again, for your service.

Gratitude to U.S. Veterans

Gratitude to U.S. Veterans

November means Thanksgiving in the US, with the turkey-and-pie it implies….but it also signifies the time of year when we generally express our gratitude:  “thank you” gifts to teachers, the mail carrier, friends and neighbors; prayers at the dinner table focused on things for which we are grateful;  handshakes and hugs and carols and greeting cards to those in our lives we don’t want to forget.

The other US holiday in November is, of course, Veterans’ Day.  Fittingly, we take a day during this time late in the year to say “thank you for your service,” attend a parade, volunteer.  But the freedoms that our military has preserved for us do not expire at the end of the day each November 11.  Those freedoms – like our gratitude – are deep and unending. 

We are grateful for the young men and women who join the military looking for direction in their lives.  We are grateful for those who sign up in order to pledge their leadership to the US.  We are grateful for career military, who give a large chunk of their lives to service.  We are grateful for veterans of all wars and conflicts, for veterans who saw no action, for veterans who saw too much action.  We are grateful to veterans who came back whole, veterans who came back scarred or damaged or limbless or angry. 

Veterans, we hope you know that Resurrecting Lives Foundation is profoundly grateful to you and your families for your honor, your sacrifices, and your legacies.

Ed Heckathorn: Serving after Duty

Ed Heckathorn: Serving after Duty

When I was first contacted by the Foundation to write for the newsletter, I was honored, excited, and nervous about having to come up with something to write.  Then I thought, “Wait, why me?  I don’t have TBI, nor do I have PTSD.”   That said, I do have a story.  As a matter of fact, we all have a story, a story worth sharing.

I am a 12-year Active/Reserve Army Veteran, Staff Sergeant.  At 47 years old, I have two teenage daughters and one young adult son.  I recently become engaged to the love of my life, who has a ten-year-old son.

My military career started back in April of 1992 when I enlisted into the Army in active duty.  I did my basic training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  My active-duty job was as a fire support specialist.

After completing my training, I was sent off to Fort Benning for Airborne school and the Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP).  After completing both, I was sent to my duty station, the 1/75th Ranger Battalion, in Savannah, Georgia.  There I was assigned to Bravo Company, where I spent two years traveling the world and training with what I would consider one of the best units out there.

After serving in the Ranger Battalion, I returned to my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and went on Reserve status.   My unit was going to be closing down and no other units in the state offered my MOS, so I chose the MOS of military police, keeping me in my hometown.

While on Reserve status, I became employed as a deputy at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office starting in September of 1999.  There were many reservists working at the Sheriff’s Office during this period, and there still are today.

In January 2002, following the unfortunate events of September 11, 2001, my Reserve unit, the 342ndMilitary Police, was activated.  There were nine deputies just in my unit alone that were deployed.  Unsure of our mission, we knew we were shipping out to Fort Dix, New Jersey, for additional training.   This turned out to be quite a life experience.

Our unit worked with contingent Air Force soldiers doing transport missions of captured Taliban in Afghanistan.  We flew from McGuire AFB, New Jersey, to Incirlik AFB, Turkey.  There we planned for the next part of our mission. For security reasons, we would fly at night to a determined location in Afghanistan to pick up Taliban detainees from the ground forces. When we landed, the ground troops would bring their detainees to us to be accounted for and loaded. Then we flew nonstop for 22 hours to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There we unloaded the detainees to other Military Police who then transported them to Camp X-ray to process them. Then we would fly back to McGuire AFB, New Jersey. This all happened in roughly a 96-hour turnaround time.  Then the mission would repeat itself all over again in a week or two.

As I would imagine is true with most who have served, I am not sure I could ever truly put into words my experience of my time in service and how it has affected me as a human being, both in positive and negative ways.

One of the impacts it had on me is making me appreciate all that I do have and all that I have done.  During my 12 years of military service, I’ve traveled all over the United States, training with other units. I’ve traveled to Turkey, Cuba, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Panama twice.  In all my travels, I have seen many diverse backgrounds, cultures, and demographics; poverty and oppression; diseases and maladies. All of this has only made me appreciate more all the freedoms we have as Americans.  It has taught me to slow down and take some time to talk to people and recognize others.  Our soldiers are fighting and dying in countries with far fewer rights, freedoms, and opportunities than ours. There are soldiers and veterans living here and coming home every day with cognitive and physical injuries who are not able to get the help they so desperately need and are so ever-deserving of.

Getting out of the Reserves in 2004 was not an easy transition for me.  I was a Staff Sergeant and squad leader and it was hard to leave my brothers and sisters. Once you enlist, there is a very strong, real, and unique bond that one develops with what many would consider family.  I truly missed that bond and connection.  And while in the service, I had lost a “brother” who had become my best friend, the emotional impacts of which I still feel today.

While leaving the military was difficult on an emotional and personal level and I was dealing with that, for quite a period, I was burying the physical pains that I was experiencing. I had been a leader and thought I was going to just get through it and continue my time at the Sheriff’s Office and not face any of my physical ailments.   Then there finally came a point in time when I realized that I needed to reach out to the VA and to outside physicians and get the medical help that was there for me.

When I finally decided to seek treatment in 2008, I first had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Chrisanne Gordon.  This is when my post-military life changed forever.  I was her patient first, but now I have the distinct pleasure of calling her my Hero.

For those that are fortunate enough to know Dr. Gordon, you know she’s an amazing doctor.   However, you also know that if you get her in the room with another talkative person, hours later they will most likely still be chatting away.  That is exactly what happened and what started our relationship.  She and I talked for more than an hour at my appointment and it wasn’t all about my injury. We talked about veterans with harsh injuries and traumas, and about how difficult it was for them to get the proper diagnoses and treatments. She was so energetic and full of passion to help veterans that I was totally INfrom that moment on.

Beginning with Operation Resurrectionand then Resurrecting Lives Foundation, I’ve worked with and helped organize multiple fundraisers. Working with Dr. Gordon from the beginning, I’ve traveled with her to Arlington West in Santa Monica, California, for the beach display memorial for our soldiers fallen since 2001. I’ve traveled twice to Washington, DC, with her and my fellow friends/veterans Chris Lawrence, Wendell Guillermo, and Curtis Armstrong to advocate and to talk to Congressional representatives on behalf of our Foundation.

Working with the Foundation combined with my 20 years at the Sheriff’s office, with the last 10 years being in court services, I had the opportunity to observe an area where our court system was severely lacking.  I connected Dr. Gordon and retired Ohio Judge Evelyn Stratton to address this issue for our veterans.  In doing so, we now have established a Veterans Court in Franklin County, Ohio, where the focus is on treatment rather than punishment.

Dr. Gordon has been a true inspiration to me and there is nothing I wouldn’t do to help her and the amazing Foundation. I proudly volunteer with the Resurrecting Lives Foundation or advocate for our mission because I feel a sense of pride in who we are and what we represent.  It is a cause I truly believe in.  Being a part of this organization also has given me the sense of military family I was missing for so many years.  I feel right at home again when talking to any member of the Foundation.  For that, I am forever grateful.

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