Michael J. Kerrigan



Today in watching the news, I learned a new objective of the left is to shame young men from playing football and to discourage others from making their living around that uniquely American sport. In fact, a color commentator from ESPN made a big splash out of recently quitting his profession.

Turning the channel to Fox news, I witnessed the resilience of so many Texans helping their neighbors; two movies came to my mind… Friday Night Lights and on Any Given Sunday. Thinking of Al Pacino’s locker room speech then comforted me… “Either we heal as a team or we die as individuals.” See YouTube.com Any Given Sunday – 1080p HD

Witnessing the sacrifices these Texans are making for other Texans, I realized their resilience might have started for many young Texans on their Friday Night games. May the character of our suffering Texans inspire us to heal as… Continue reading


In an earlier post I noted the truly great lobbyist and perhaps great leaders are skilled at building healthy relationships. The qualities of character that enable great lobbyist and leaders to build influential relationships are building blocks or habits that they have developed and nurtured over time.

Aristotle would agree as he is credited with the following quote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.“ Positive psychologists like Mike Matthews, Rich Lerner and Paul Stoltz would also agree with the classic model of individual learning, that is, before we acquire any skill there are stages of learning, or competence, that we go through.

It is probably no surprise to anyone that character development entails becoming skilled at various positive habits like accountability, discipline, commitment and honesty. Everything we do requires awareness first, then learning and application, and then… Continue reading


Readers of this site may recall my first book, Politics with Principle was about the good character of politicians I worked closely with over the years. Although the response to this book in and around Washington D.C. was positive, the typical response outside the beltway was, how did you find ten politicians with good character?


My next book, Courage in America: 7 Warriors with Character was a study of seven wounded warriors who displayed extraordinary resilience and character during their long war of rehabilitation. The response to Courage in America was more favorable than Politics with Principle and the typical query was, how can I help?

To follow the mission of the Character Building Project, our research of character in adversity continues. Some have suggested studying leaders in Corporate America who have displayed character in adversity. However, after reading Joel Klein’s Lessons of Hope: How to Fix… Continue reading

First I wish to honor the “Supersurvivors” not only as portrayed in the book but also many others who have triumphed over trauma.Secondly, I wish to thank the authors for taking on this topic so important to so many servicemen, law enforcement officials and those suffering from all types of trauma.Notwithstanding, the many fine stories demonstrating the links between suffering and success, I was disappointed the authors were not more forthcoming about admitting their own not so hidden ideological agenda.In the remainder of this review, I will point out that which I see as the authors’ style as a polemicist and offer excerpts from the book to share my view as to what appears to me to an ideological agenda driven slant. To be fair to the authors, one should read the entire book so that the excerpts can understood in the context the authors meant.The cultural worldview of the… Continue reading

The Huffington Post

By Alena Hall

Posted: 07/08/2014 7:39 am EDT  |  Updated: 07/08/2014 7:59 am EDT

Humans have a remarkable capacity for resilience. Over and over, we hear stories of people who, after trauma and adversity, pick themselves up, put the pieces back together, and go on with their lives.

But for many, there’s a place beyond recovery. For this group, life’s most difficult experiences prompt them not only to bounce back, but to bounce forward. These are the people who David B. Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz spotlight in their new book, Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering and Success. They define a supersurvivor as “a person who has dramatically transformed his or her life after surviving a trauma, accomplishing amazing things or transforming the world for the better.”

By telling the stories of those who created better lives for themselves following a… Continue reading

Adm. McRaven

By Daniel P. Crandall

Chair, PTG Sports Caucus


When the issue is helping wounded warriors, be they veterans or active duty personnel, no solution should be off the table. A recent difference between Admiral William McRaven, leader of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and the House Armed Services Committee, unfortunately, is not following this truism. Adm. McRaven sought funding for what might be considered a ‘both/and’ approach to minimize the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSI—a designation many prefer over the more commonly known PTSD diagnosis). Legislators, however, declared there is only one method to help veterans at risk and that is the only method they are willing to fund.

On 15 May, the Washington Post reported that Adm. McRaven had requested additional funding “to hire physical therapists, dietitians, sports psychologists and strength and conditioning specialists to work with troops” in order to address the increasing rate of… Continue reading


The Source to recovery: S.R.C. = Strength. Resilience. Courage.

– Steve Baskis


I am writing this for the first time and these are my own opinions and thoughts. I do not feel that I have any answers, but only life experience and challenges that have influenced my recovery from a traumatic injury. All that I ask from the reader is to have an open mind and the ability to see things from a different perspective.

Over the years since my injury a question has come to mind, “Why haven’t I given up on life?” Even better, “Why has life been so rewarding and full of opportunity after living through a traumatic life altering injury such as blindness?”  I would have to say, the question is not easily answered, but at least I can write down my thoughts and evaluate who I was and who I am now.

From… Continue reading

Last week I was discussing the mental health challenges of our returning veterans with two very good friends. Today I was wondering whether their insights might be related.

Team Red, White and Blue

Team Red, White and Blue

In a recent interview with  Brant Feldman, our family friend, a senior executive of ADS, Inc., lawyer and former SEAL; Brant stated making it through BUDs is 90% mental fortitude and 10% physical skills and stamina.”

My pal, Tommy Norman, the founder of two successful organizations; Norcom Properties and Charlotte Bridge Home (CBH), told me, much of the mental health issues CBH is addressing did not originate as combat stress. He said, “Michael, many of the warriors returning home are facing the stresses of joblessness, homelessness and exhaustion from trying to provide for their families and find decent housing.”

My curiosity as to their insights being related began with Tommy’s use of the word exhaustion… Continue reading


Comprehensive Soldier Fitness

Comprehensive Soldier Fitness

In Head Strong, Professor Matthews has shed light on the fact that the combination of the popular press focusing on PTSD with psychology’s almost complete concentration on these adverse consequences, versus other possible sequels, such as Post Traumatic Growth, leads to some undesirable effects.

Rather than debating the criteria to define PTSD used by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, as did Thomas Insel, the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychologically-minded/201310/is-nimh-brilliant-stupid-or-bothhttp://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychologically-minded/201310/is-nimh-brilliant-stupid-or-both-part-2) Matthews notes the PTSD disease model, which emphasizes treatment rather than prevention, was overwhelmed and incapable of responding to the sheer number of psychological casualties piling up after a decade of warfare.

In 2008 Matthews had just completed his term as president of the Society for Military Psychology, as his presidential theme, was bringing positive psychology applications into military context. About this time… Continue reading


Before my recent trip to West Point, I had read a bit about General George Casey launching the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program in 2008. However, I did not know that Mike Matthews involved Martin Seligman, the founder of the Positive Psychology movement, in planning and executing this important initiative.

The U.S. Corps of Cadets Color Guard prepares to pass the reviewing party.

The U.S. Corps of Cadets Color Guard prepares to pass the reviewing party.

The author of Head Strong not only exhibited humility from my first meeting, but after I had the opportunity to read Head Strong, I was struck by the fact that West Point had such an independent professor like Mike on its faculty. A thoughtful guy like Mike on the faculty told me much about West Point as well. The following is a fine example of Mike speaking truth to power:

“The military does a good job of teaching its soldiers to kill. But is does… Continue reading

In Politics with Principle: 10 Character with Character I was focused on character strengths of politicians I had known who practiced the profession with principle. In writing Courage in America: 7 Warriors with Character my focus sharpened to study the strengths of character not only when lives are on the line but after combat, during the long war of rehabilitation.


Marines Returning From Iraq

Marines Returning From Iraq

Professor Matthew’s work Head Strong took me deeper into appreciating true test of grit and resilience among the band of military brothers. I had read of Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson’s book (Character Strengths and Virtues) that described their theory of human character and a method for measuring it. However, I did not know that Professor Matthews participated in Medici II; the University of Pennsylvania conference on how positive psychology could influence large organizations like the military.


The application of positive psychology… Continue reading

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