ARLINGTON, Va. - Decorated Soldier, actor, artist, motivational speaker, and now retired U.S. Army Col. Gregory D. Gadson can add the 2017 Viscardi Achievement Award to the list of his honors. Dr. Henry Viscardi, Jr. for who the award is named, was one of the world's leading advocates for people with disabilities, having served as a disability advisor to eight U.S. Presidents, from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Jimmy Carter.
According to the Viscardi Center website, the award is given annually to "recognize exemplary leaders within the disability community and their extraordinary societal contributions, while remembering the spirit and legacy of its founder. Since the award's inception in 2013, the Viscardi Achievement Awards have drawn nominations from countries around the world for people in academia, healthcare, government, non-profit and corporate sectors.
"I was honestly stunned when I actually received the award recognizing my work in the disabilities community. I've never thought of my contribution as work. More appropriately, I feel like a Soldier trying to be the best he can be because that's all I've done. The award is still sinking in, but everyday I'm humbled by those who give me credit for inspiring them; on that scale it has to be the greatest award I've ever received," Gadson said
Gadson served in the Army for 25 years after graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. His service culminated as the Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir, Va. where he oversaw more than 50,000 military personnel. He served in every major conflict over the past two decades, including Operation Desert Shield/Storm in Kuwait; Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan; and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His greatest challenge came in Iraq in 2007, when he lost both his legs and severely injured his right arm after being hit by a roadside bomb.
"Retired U.S. Army Col. Gregory D. Gadson, is an example of resiliency and how to overcome the challenges put in front of you, he is a true friend to the Warrior Care and Transition Program and I couldn't think of anyone more deserving," said Thomas D. Webb, Executive Director, Warrior Care and Transition.
Gadson has survived the worst of war, but has not let his circumstances define him"
"I have never thought of myself as disabled. The way I see it, I get up every day and do exactly what everyone else does. Perhaps I do it differently and I may need assistance, but that doesn't mean I'm disabled. I think we all have challenges. Some of us may have a few more than others that might be obvious, but that's okay," Gadson said.
Today, Col. Gadson continues to serve his nation as an entrepreneur and managing partner of Patriot Strategies, a government services company. He also encourages wounded warriors, veterans, and those with disabilities as a motivational speaker.