Wounded Warrior stays Lightning Strong
January 31, 2012
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers of the 2nd Battalion, 11th Field Artillery Regiment, and 2nd Brigade Combat Team were given the opportunity on Jan. 11 at the Nehelani Club to hear the motivating story of a warrior formerly from the 2nd BCT who was wounded, losing both of his legs, and had previously served in their brigade.
Resiliency, an important characteristic for any Warrior, was the focus of the discussion in which Col. Gregory D. Gadson, Director of the US Army Wounded Warrior Program spoke of his experiences, including the detonation of an improvised explosive device in 2007 that resulted in both of his legs being amputated above the knee.
Gadson, an exceptional football player at both Indian River High School and West Point, knows the importance of this trait. Gadson graduated from West Point in 1989 and has served multiple combat tours including Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Your capacity to expand and deal with the unknown or unplanned," this is how Gadson defines resiliency.
Resiliency should be trained and tested before it is needed to ensure that when needed it is available.
"Resilience is not something you want to find out you have or don't have when you're faced with adversity," Gadson said. "All too often many of us find out what our resiliency is when we're faced with unexpected adversity."
The Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program, or Lightning Strong in the 25th Infantry Division, is designed specifically to ensure total Soldier fitness, to include resiliency.
Being resilient isn't something that just occurs; it needs to be practiced regularly.
"Every day we have an opportunity to live up to being the best that we can be," said Gadson. "Everything you do has purpose."
Though resiliency can be related to all of the Army Values, integrity in particular can be an excellent way to practice resiliency.
Soldiers have to do the right thing all the time, said Gadson. It shouldn't be something that is only done when their supervisor is watching.
"From workouts during PT to instruction in a classroom," said Gadson, "You've got to have an attitude that says 'I'm going to do this to the best of my ability.'"
There are skills that can aid in resiliency and allow someone to push farther and harder than they would otherwise.
Looking for the positive aspect of a situation, however remote, can allow a person to see past the negative aspects of it and strive to achieve their goals.
"Hunt the good stuff," said Gadson. "The way you approach and think about things can influence your ability to push."
Hunting the good stuff became habit, said Gadson. Even though he lost his legs, he could still be a Soldier and still had his Family, friends and colleagues behind him.
"Being a Soldier was not defined by me having my legs or not having my legs," Gadson said. "What was in my heart and what was in my mind is what made me a Soldier."
How you perform, lead and motivate yourself and those around you is what defines you as a leader and a Soldier, said Gadson. Looking past disappointment and failure and striving to achieve more is what makes you resilient.
Gadson serves as a shining example to the Army and the world of how resiliency and a positive outlook can take a life altering event from tragedy to inspiration. Resiliency can make our Army Family stronger and help to build a more effective fighting force.