Michael J. Kerrigan

 

Courage in America began as part of my service project as a member of The Knights of Malta, a Roman Catholic service organization. As part of my “work,” I visited wounded warriors at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. The results of those and subsequent visits to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda Maryland provided the opportunity for me to select wounded warriors who already have, or were in the process of successfully overcoming traumatic injuries. My mission was to understand the character traits that enable some of them to turn their adversities into successful recoveries, while others did not.  Courage was clearly present in the successes.

Marine Corporal Todd Nicely**, was the first of the seven warriors I was to profile. Todd challenged me to write his story. I replied to Todd that given your serious injuries the story could be depressing. Todd replied… “Not if you do it right.”

In witnessing Todd’s rehabilitation and the six other warriors, I recognized the importance of the virtues of courage and patient endurance. The successful patients learn to live according to a “code of wounded warriors,” such that the duties of rehabilitation are discharged with the same determination and focus once required for battle. They respond to their physical adversities with the same militant spirit that made them an effective American warrior.

Success does not come easily in war or in rehabilitation. It is achieved by an assiduous application of duty, by mentally and physically struggling through daily therapy challenges. The wounded warriors exhibit extraordinary habits of mind, body and soul that enable them to eventually make great strides forward toward their ultimate recovery.

By sharing the stories of how these warriors and their caregivers battle on against traumatic injuries, I hoped to inspire newly wounded warriors to reach for the fullest recovery possible for them. I also wanted to educate civilians about our country’s young military-hero families, so others will join me in supporting warrior efforts to re-enter civilian life. By getting to know the wounded warrior community, I benefited greatly by learning of their virtues of honor, humility, perseverance, selflessness, patience, resilience and endurance.

There were similarities in the two books; I continued to profile interesting subjects and, like the politicians in the first book, once I gained the trust of the warriors, they too were anxious to have their stories shared with the public. Unlike the first book where the common reaction was how did you ever a find ten honest politician, the reaction to Courage in America was, “how can we help?”

Even though I was unable to devote much time on marketing the book on warriors the number of positive reviews on Amazon doubled and the number of request for me to speak about the courage of these warriors greatly increased. Perhaps the greatest outcome was to be welcomed into a very special club of military men and women who served in combat and who appreciated the story of the long war of rehabilitation was being told.

By sharing how these warriors and their caregivers battle on against traumatic injuries, the book’s message is to inspire newly wounded warriors to reach for the fullest recovery possible for them. Another goal of Courage in America was to educate civilians about our country’s young military-hero families, so others will join me in supporting warrior efforts to re-enter civilian life. By getting to know the wounded warrior community, all benefit by learning of their virtues of honor, humility, perseverance, selflessness, patience, resilience and endurance.

With no marketing or public relations budget, Courage in America outsold the Politics with Principle. Numerous veteran organizations offered a positive word of mouth campaign and the book seems to continue to have legs. However, the need to support wounded warriors and their families continues. I also noticed greater interest in the articles I posted on the Character Building Project site. In fact, additional wounded warriors, even after the book was published, asked me to post their stories on my site and their stories are posted on the warriors with character page. Also numerous veteran organizations asked to be included in the resource page of the site.

In brief, the results of publishing my second book on character were encouraging; motivating me to commit to do a third book in the character series, to greatly expand my blog, and  to begin to receive critical feedback and valued advice from my readers.

** Corporal Todd Nicely had served a tour with the Marines in Iraq in 2008 before being sent to Afghanistan in 2009 and placed in charge of 12 Marines in the 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd. Marines. On March 26, 2010, in his fifth month of duty near the town of Lakari in southern Afghanistan, Nicely was leading his infantrymen during a routine security patrol. While crossing a crude, single-file Bamboo Bridge over the canal he stepped on an improvised explosive device buried at the foot of the bridge.  The bomb contained 40 pounds of homemade explosives.  Corporal Nicely not only lost his arms, but his legs too, becoming only the second American to survive the Afghanistan war after losing all four limbs.

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