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An American Hero
June | 2014


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Courageous Leadership

An American Hero

Lt. Jason Redman, Ret. was a true American hero while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and he continues his heroism today.

Lt. Redman joined the US Navy in 1992 and served in various campaigns during the next ten years. In 2005, he was commissioned as a Navy Seal officer and was deployed to Afghanistan where he conducted numerous missions. Redman had earned the nickname Rambo Red from his troops meaning that he thought of himself as invincible and able to be the shining white knight on the battlefield. His troops saw his behavior as an insult to his leadership since it meant that he lacked an

understanding of the importance of the team working together. It was during this time that he made a bad leadership decision by taking his troops into a battle that had

put everyone in jeopardy of losing their lives. Soon afterwards, he recognized his mistakes and resolved to become a better and smarter leader.

He returned for his next tour of duty in 2007 and was assigned to command an assault force tasked with capturing a high value Al Qaeda leader. During the firefight, Lt. Redman and his troops took heavy machine gun and small arms fire. Redman was shot in the arm and head but he and his team persisted in their battle and won the fight bringing his entire compliment of troops home safely. Lt. Redman, however, was badly injured in the battle.

The bullets that showered his body took particular aim at his face. Redman's cheekbone was shattered and he lost his nose. He required over 30 surgeries, but amazingly enough they did not dampen his spirit. He kept a sign on his door at The Bethesda Naval Hospital that read:

ATTENTION: TO ALL WHO ENTER HERE. If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received, I got in a job I love,

doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the absolute utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20% further through sheer mental not prepared for that, go elsewhere. From: The Management."

After his recovery and release from the hospital, Lt. Redman faced yet another new challenge. Wherever he travelled he observed the discomfort and insensitivity that people had towards his wounds. Children pointed at his scarred face and people stared at him with embarrassment. Their questions about his appearance usually focused on whether he was in a car accident or a motorcycle crash. No one ever asked him if he had been wounded in combat and he began to feel angry that so many Americans had no connection to the battles and sacrifices that had been waged by American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He took to the Internet to vent but instead of posting angry tweets and Facebook updates, he once again decided to take on the challenge and beat it back. He began designing T-shirts with phrases that explained his wound. His first read "Stop staring. I got shot by a machine gun. It would have killed you." Soon people acknowledged him for the warrior he was and thanked him for his service and sacrifice.

In 2009, he created Wounded Wear, a non-profit organization that donates clothing packages to wounded soldiers and their families. In the kits are jackets, workout clothes and T-shirts that read, for example, "Scarred so that others may live free." The

organization also alters amputee pants for soldiers returning with prosthetic legs. Wounded Wear sponsors quarterly "Jumps for a Purpose" events which are skydiving sessions for wounded vets and their families allowing friends and colleagues to come together in a festive environments.

Jason Redman's life has always been lived with a purpose. He's not deferred from challenges but has instead gotten stronger as he faced each new adversity. Each time he was confronted by what would seem like failure to many of us, he created a new option and moved forward to success.

There are many lessons to be taken from Lt. Redman's story. First, find a veteran and thank them for their service; Second, don't be scared of people with disabilities and get to know them better; Third, keep searching for the meaning in your life and if you feel like you get thrown off your path, just get back up and start again. Jason Redman did...over and over again.


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TED Talks

Philosopher and author Roman Krznaric thinks we've spent too much time being introspective and it is now time to be outrospective. He believes that the power of empathy can create a revolution of human relationships. Watch his Royal Society for the Arts 10 minute presentation and see how interesting it will be to visit the Empathy Museum


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