I sat in silence listening to the stories of battered trucks driving down dirt roads and blowing up just a hairs breath from soldiers on duty. I heard about the pain, angst and often guilt that is part of physically fighting someone into submission or fear being killed.
The vets all said, in their own way, “war is hell.”
While I know our soldiers have risked life and limb to keep us safe, I was sitting in a room and listening to the war stories that brought the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Gulf War, and Viet Nam, more deeply into my own safe and simple world.
Here is how it happened: Our retreat center in Northeast Pennsylvania is set way back in the woods and no one just shows up to walk around. Except, one sunny day a tall, muscular man was there, checking out the grounds. He heard a rumor the retreat center may be for sale and he was looking for a home for the veterans who needed to heal from the wounds of war.
The man, Mark Baylis has become a dear friend and rather than talk about selling we ended up talking about helping.
Mark, a retired sergeant major in the U.S. Army is a man with a dream, a BIG dream. He is also a forceful leader and while it is not on his resume, a brilliant salesman.
By the time my husband Herb, Mark and I had finished pizza and conversation we were knee deep in plans to start a program for vets, especially those (just about all) who have PTSD.
And Veterans Unstoppable was birthed.
The program, based on our Total Leadership Connections Program™, helps vets reclaim their lives and make a difference at home as they did abroad.
What happened in combat is put into a larger view of total life situations. They are shown how to connect the dots of the three areas that make each of us who we are; family, culture and crises. The vets are given tools to re-frame their war situations and use what happened in positive ways for the future.
Like Chet, who came into the program in a wheelchair, young (and handsome) yet he was able to face his injury and the fact that he would never play basketball again, never walk again, but continue to look for his next place of health and happiness.
Until now he had spent his time reliving the trauma of war and feeling sorry for himself. Now, as he looked at his life, his childhood, his family challenges, his dreams and wishes, he was able to see that his talent as a young high school basketball star could be repackaged as a coach.
He was able to look at the way his parents and grandparents and even great grandparents had overcome adversity and that was what gave Chet to courage to change and heal.
A quote from Winston Churchill puts the core of the program best “The further back you can look, the further forward you are likely to see”
Learning how to connect the dots of what happens in life helps individuals move forward. Traumas can be healed and we are so appreciative to be able to contribute with our program.
At this time to honor our veterans I would like to give a special shout out to Mark Baylis whose vision and determination have helped and will continue to help so many.