Sometimes we lose track of what’s really important.
As part of my job, I often have to interview people – total strangers, really – to create pitches to send to reporters to get them to write stories about my clients. We call it “hanging a pitch,” because the publicity for the client will be “hanged” around that one person’s story.
Last week, I had the great honor of speaking with a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant. As a grade A9, he tells me he was among the top 1% of his peers, and commanded a squad of 900 in Iraq. Married with three children, there was no limit to his future.
In 2007, he was run over by a fertilizer truck in a freak accident. He suffered partial loss of his sight and hearing, severe injuries to his legs and brain, and has since been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury. He says he has lost his ability to do math, among other cognitive functions. He was relieved of his command, he says, on Christmas Eve 2007.
He says he reached a low point – after drinking and depression had set in – where he was set to commit suicide. Looking around the room for a weapon, he instead came upon a white, three-ring binder his wife had created, filled with mementos of countries they had visited while serving their country (she is also in the Air Force). Memories flooded back, and instead of killing himself, he told his wife he needed help.
There’s a happy ending to this story, the rest of which, hopefully, you will read in the newspaper or see on TV very soon.
But it’s stories like these which should be a reality check for all of us. We all wrestle with our personal struggles, whether with work, family, health, or loss. They all hit us in personal ways, and can take its toll in ways just as unique.
But you think YOU have problems? Try walking a mile in this guy’s shoes.