Hitting the links for Veterans with TBI

Golf may very well be the most appropriate metaphor for life: the US Golf Association rules that golfers should “Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.”

Cardinal Health’s employees once again staged a fair, successful, and fun golf outing at the Golf Club of Dublin on August 25, 2019, in order to raise awareness for veterans with TBI or PTSD who do their best to play the ball as it lies. This fourth annual fundraiser welcomed 121 golfers in 31 teams, who competed for bragging rights and door prizes, and general all-around camaraderie. Corporate sponsors included Microsoft, Deloitte, Memorial Health, Google Cloud, Rolta Advizex, CDW, Service Now, Network 9, Fastswitch, The Select Group, ComResource, Zscaler, Equinix, Fahrenheit IT Staffing, Witron, Calculate Hire, DeToto, Axway, AWH, Thompson Hine, Manhattan Associates, Huntington, Apex Systems, Adaptive Sports Connection, Insight, HP Enterprise, and Teradata, and of course Cardinal Health and Resurrecting Lives Foundation.

Keynote speaker at the event was veteran Bill Chisum, a Cardinal Health employee working in Alaska. Chisum, an RLF ambassador, heads up the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) light project for RLF.

Below is the text that formed the basis for Bill’s speech.

Good afternoon. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for having me here today. My name is Bill Chisum, and I am a 10-year Air Force veteran and a five-year Cardinal Health employee. I am a happily married father of three. I have fought in 2 wars with 3 deployments, one of which is still affecting my family to this day.

During my career in the United States Air Force, I worked Medical Supply as a customer of Cardinal Health. For 10 years I worked directly with the fine folks of Cardinal Health as a customer. Prior to my separation, Cardinal Health accepted my application for a position as a Cardinal Health Field Service Rep for the Government, a role which I have thoroughly enjoyed because I am able to assist those who still serve. Basically, I am a dedicated on-site customer service rep. During my training, I knew that I had made the right transition. Having the opportunity to work with my former unit allowed me to slowly stick my tippy toes into the civilian world. I knew that it felt at home, to work for a company that had an Employee Resource Group such as Cardinal’s Veterans and Military Advocates.

I struggled; I really had a lot of anxiety and fear about being accepted into a society that was protesting and “occupying” America, and in my mind, I was now entering my own private Vietnam. In all honesty, I feared that it was just me against the world.

I began working for Cardinal Health at my prior unit, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska in 2014, which brings me to how I met Dr. Chrisanne Gordon and the amazing people of THE Resurrecting Lives Foundation.

It was in the fall of 2015 and was I was excited to finally be able to participate in something at the corporate level. You see, even though I have never lived in Ohio, I have family that is from here. And being able to support them and give them an avenue to seek help is ultimately all that I was looking for. The VMA was doing a fundraiser and pairing with Resurrecting Lives Foundation. I had come up with the idea to do a fundraiser based off of No-Shave November, reflecting on what I recall as being TBI awareness month. While things did not work out originally as planned, I was able to keep in touch and develop a relationship with Dr. Gordon.

Through constant communication, it came out that I was struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which affects roughly 10 million adults every year. I was at a critical level of five nanograms of Vitamin D in my blood serum (a related marker for SAD), and trying to deal with the long winters in Alaska. Dr. Gordon came up with a great idea of researching and studying how seasonal affective disorder affects veterans with TBI or PTSD and she sent me the first shipment of 20 SAD lights to distribute out to veterans and first responders.

Writing this speech has brought back a lot of emotion and grief. I remembered the morning that I woke up at 3 am. As I was unable to sleep, I sat up to read the news that there was another bombing in the capital of Kabul, a hell hole that I had just returned from. My team consisted of members of every service component, but the ones that kept us alive were our force protection. They were members of the Ohio National Guard’s 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Among the fallen in Afghanistan – 283 from the state of Ohio – were soldiers that I remember: SPC Todd M. Bates, SSG Aaron T. Reese, SGT Michael C. Barkey, PFC Samuel R. Bowen, Cpl Brad Davis, 1LT Ashley White-Stumpf, SPC Ryan A. Martin, 1LT Charles L. Wilkins III, SGT Jeremy M. Hodge, SFC Daniel J. Pratt, SFC Daniel Crabtree, LT COL Kevin Sonnenberg, SGT Anthony M. Vinnedge ,CPT Nicholas Rozanski, MSG Shawn Hannon, MSG Jeffrey Rieck, SPC Cody D. Suggs.

As I was unable to sleep, I sat up to read the news that there was another bombing in the capital of Kabul, a hell hole that I had just returned from.

Like you, I have a desire to offer my support to those who have served our great nation and communities around the world. To see that no one feels alone and isolated as I did, I have dedicated a considerable amount of my time to several non-profit organizations:

  • I have lead courses and given testimony with Soldiers Heart, a curriculum that is teaching attendees healthy ways to cope with PTSD and is growing nationally and has expanded to include law enforcement, EMT and fire-rescue first responders.
  • Alaska’s Healing Hearts is a national organization offering year-round outdoor recreational opportunities for America’s brave wounded warriors and their families. Rehabilitation activities include fishing, hunting, skiing, rodeo, dog sledding tours, and various other outdoor pursuits.
  • Similarly, I am a pro-staff member for The Fallen Outdoors, which facilitates hunting and fishing trips for military and veterans while honoring those that gave their lives so that we can still play in the field.
  • And Finally the Fisher House of Alaska, where in conjunction with Cardinal Health, and active-duty Airmen, we raised over $1500 in gift cards and presents to provide daily Christmas gifts to patrons through December back in 2018.

It is gratifying that all of these organizations are merging in my life: in July of last year, the Fisher House of Alaska expanded from a 15-bed to a 35-bed facility. And in wanting to keep in tune with our family relationship, The Resurrecting Lives Foundation sent an additional 20 SAD lights just for the guests of the Fisher House.

I am pleased and honored to be here today with you to salute Cardinal Health, Resurrecting Lives Foundation, and the veterans with TBI or PTSD who have earned our support beyond measure. Thank you.

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