The direct and indirect impacts of 9-11

For me, 9-11 was a day that started like any other September day in D.C. and ended like no other.  Serving on the Army  Staff, I was standing outside the Pentagon when the Flight 77 hit the west side.  I heard the explosion, felt the wave of heat wash over me, and looked up to see the fireball over the building.  I never made it back inside that day.  The alarms immediately began to sound and people streamed out of the building.  We watched as the first responders fought to limit the damage.

Like our veteran brothers who lived through Pearl Harbor, it was an experience that galvanized our collective effort, clearly demonstrated our purpose, and inspired many to serve.

I lost two friends that day.  Major Ron Milam was in a briefing with the Army Chief of Personnel when American Flight 77 slammed into their conference room, killing all in attendance.  Ron, stoic and focused, left behind a wife, daughter and son.  Brady Howell, laid back and easy going, was a State Department employee, on loan to the Department of Defense who never made it home to his young wife that day.  Another friend still bears the emotional scars he took with him as he crawled out through the smoke and fire of the building that day, leaving behind many co-workers.

The impact of that day has reverberated through our community ever since, directly impacting the lives of those who lived through it.  A good friend, Staff Sergeant Chris Vanderhorn and I served in Iraq together.  He was a police officer in Washington before 9-11.  Inspired by the events that day, he enlisted to fight those who would destroy our way of life.  He was killed in action when his HUMMWV hit a anti-tank mine on January 1, 2006.

While a few were directly involved with the events of that day, many of the veterans who participate in our transformative programs trace their physical and emotional injuries indirectly back to this day.  Whether training injured or combat wounded, there is an emotional connection that immediately brings to mind the images of the friends we lost and the places we’ve gone as a result of 9-11. It’s hard for me to think of that day and not feel utter sadness, both for those we lost that September morning and the resulting years of conflict which continue to this day.

As we pause for a few minutes to remember the events of that day, reflect on the impact on our lives, and recognize the service of our veterans I’d ask you to consider giving to support our No Barriers Warriors programs and enable us to continue to provide the life-changing experiences for our veterans with disabilities.   Three veterans have told me this year that they would not be with us if it had not been for our program.  This program literally saves lives!  Others have taken home a new mindset, a renewed sense of purpose, and a desire to make a meaningful contribution to their families and the communities in which they live.

An expedition team will head into the Troublesome Wilderness today, seeking answers, renewed purpose, and support.  They will begin to develop their own No Barriers Rope Team.  Your involvement is a concrete example of what that Rope Team represents.  A community of people, willing to come together, dedicated to supporting our veterans with disabilities, and ensuring they can overcome the challenges that resulted from their service.

Again, I want to thank you for your support.  We could not serve our veterans and transform their lives without your continued involvement and place on our Rope Team.


No Barriers Warriors – Director

September 11, 2016
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