Military personnel learn to apply their earliest military training to many parts of their lives. From the first moments of boot camp our lives are broken down and that training is ingrained into our very being. We take that training with us long after the uniform hangs unworn in the closet and the neckerchiefs lie in the drawers. Even today, I can write a business email in all acronyms, because it is still the most formal and proper way I know. One time we “tossed racks” because Kid couldn’t find something and insisted it wasn’t in her room. I can fit many t-shirts in a drawer or suitcase, thanks to a certain Chief, who, incidentally was not my division chief, but who seemed to think the sun shone from my arse nonetheless.
For some, it helps to pull us through the unexpected twists that life hands us. I am sure I am not the only person who will endure more pain than is required before complaining because I believe it is expected.
For Marc Esposito, a 26 year-old Air Force Sergeant and member of a special tactics squadron until his humvee hit a roadside bomb, his training helped him focus trough the year of rehab at two separate medical facilities, including the Walter Reed Medical Center, where he re-learned how to walk.
Now he is using that focus — that training — to ride with Sea to Shining Sea, to raise awareness for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation for wounded veterans, and in his own words,”[T]o hopefully show any kind of disabled American you are still capable of doing amazing things […] and hopefully change the perception of what it means to be an athlete.”
Sea to Shining Sea is a group of 17 cyclists, most of them disabled veterans, who started the journey of some 4,000 miles from San Francisco on 22 May, by dipping their wheels in the Pacific Ocean, and plan to end it by dipping their wheels in the Atlantic in Virginia Beach on 24 July. They have averaged about 50 miles a day.
Some people don’t understand that the training doesn’t leave you. It isn’t something you take off, and in some cases, this is a very good thing. The drive it takes to recover, the intensity it takes to stare illness and injury head on, the nerve it takes to accept that your career may be forever ended or changed … all of that comes from the part of you that is broken down and rebuilt ahead of time. All those weeks, months, years ago when you step off the bus and dress to that line for the first time. They rebuild you up, and it becomes a life skill that you use to accept, use, and build upon.
And it allows you to meet any task head on, using whatever you have left.
Sometimes all you have left is enough and you have no other desire but to give it.
Because that is all we know.
We know to take what we have left, and give something back.
Sea to Shining Sea is nothing short of Bad Ass, and I am not doing them justice, because I have struggled over days to write this post. I have wept a little at what these people have done with what they have kept and done. I am so proud of them, and so humbled to know that they, through their hardest, darkest times, have pulled through because of a common link and have spun it around to something positive, and to something healing, and are finding a way to use it to raise a positive message for disabled veterans everywhere.
Thank you to s.e. smith for the link, because ou is always looking out for me.