Happy Veteran’s Day! The past two months have been a blur.
I was able to speak at the JLabs campus in Boston and Houston but wasn’t able to make it to Toronto and had to reschedule this event for the winter. The Veteran’s crew in Houston is particularly noteworthy and I had a phenomenal time catching up with the team down there. They have formed a networking group called Houston Veterans in Business that has has mobilized to do some great civic work, like supporting the MARSOC Foundation. I was also able to swing by and see my grandparents and family in North Texas on the way home.
I was fortunate to see the Ride430 crew as they wrapped up another successful ride out here in Camp Pendleton. The Ride430 team is an incredible group of patriotic Americans that have raised Millions of dollars for Veteran’s non-profit organizations. Their founder, John Greenway, is truly inspiring and it was a great time getting to hang with this crew as they wrapped up another successful event.
I went back to my USNA 10-year reunion and got to catch up with some of my favorite people. My classmates are amazing and I found myself so fortunate to have had the opportunity to serve alongside such great people. One truly heroic classmate of mine, Brad Snyder, just published a book about his life titled, Fire in My Eyes. It is the true story of Brad and his recovery from losing his eyesight after an Improvised Explosive Device detonated while he was on patrol in Afghanistan. One year after he was injured, he won a Gold Medal in swimming at the Paralympics in 2012. In Rio this past year he not only won gold but broke a world record that previously stood for over 30 years.
Two weeks ago I attended the annual gala for the Bob Woodruff Foundation called Stand up for Heroes. I spoke on stage two years ago utilizing the ReWalk exoskeleton and this year was invited back to introduce Jerry Seinfeld. Unfortunately, Maura was not able to attend and she is Jerry’s biggest fan. Luckily, I was able to meet him backstage and he graciously signed his book for Maura. All of the comedians, Louis CK, Jon Stewart, and Jim Gaffigan, and Bruce Springsteen were incredible.
All of the work that Bob and Lee Woodruff have done to raise awareness and funds to support Veteran’s causes is exemplary. This year was the tenth year that they have hosted Stand up For Heroes and during this period they have helped so many people to understand what Veterans and their families endure. Bob and Lee have gone above and beyond after Bob was injured in Iraq in 2006 and I am genuinely grateful to know them both.
Last week I celebrated the Marine Corps Birthday Ball in Orange County with the November 10 Association. It is always a great event and this year General Jim Mattis was the guest speaker. He delivered a message of unity and strength saying ‘E Pluribus Unum – From many, one…’ and that the Marine Corps will continue to stand united despite any chaos that ensues during election season. This is the calling of our Marine Corps, to stand most ready when our nation is least ready, and that there are plenty of reasons to look forward to the future of America. Every time I get to hear General Mattis I am humbled, inspired and motivated, and I don’t think he could be more correct about the future of our great nation.
It’s been three months. What a great summer!!! Lots of work and I was even able to squeeze in a speaking engagement for RallyPoint Kentuckiana out in Louisville. This was a great event and I even had the pleasure of meeting MOH recipient Cpl Herschel ‘Woody’ Williams. He was awarded the MOH for his actions on Iwo Jima in WWII.
Next week I will be traveling to Boston, Toronto and Houston to speak at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centers known as JLabs. These centers are truly remarkable and offer a supportive environment for any early stage medical technology companies to build their products. They have many different locations and represent an important and growing trend in the MedTech community of strategics supporting early stage growth and initiatives. J&J has a goal of being the most innovative company in the world and, from what I have seen, this is clearly evident in their actions supporting entrepreneurs. If you want to come see the event they are open to the public. Check out the links below for more information:
We also were very fortunate to participate in the HealthBox accelerator program in Los Angeles and present our product to key leaders at UCLA, USC, and the Henry Mayo Clinic. We learned quite a bit and made great connections as we have moved forward to build our business.
We have been making significant progress on building the Connected Catheter. This progress was a direct result of our people and I can’t say enough about the work Stephen, our summer intern from Scotland, and Linh, our new engineer, have done. Stephen was sponsored by the QB3 Rosenman Institute, and he got to spend a summer in America helping us design a medical device. He was an incredible addition for the summer and I can’t say enough positive things about the program he was a part of. If you know of any early stage tech companies looking for top-quality talent you should apply to be a part of the program.
Most of this summer was focused on work. I have continued to magnify by subtracting and have tried to remain even more focused on the product and company I want to radically grow. Currently, I am more confident than ever that we can revolutionize the way people live with Neurogenic Bladder and Urinary Incontinence.
Today is a day just like most others. I woke up, did some work around the house and am getting ready for another week trying to keep the momentum with my startup moving. The only difference is the significance of what happened three years ago and that I have the opportunity to reflect and thank everyone who has sacrificed, and continues to sacrifice, to support me.
Exactly three years ago I was confronted with a situation that altered my life in many ways. Physically, psychologically, spiritually, and emotionally. In most respects, I would say that getting shot and paralyzed is a wholly negative event. Conversely, the path I have traveled in the past three years has been absolutely incredible.
I am not the least bit sad, bitter, or angry. I feel content, excited, and anxious because I still have the opportunity to achieve goals I have set for myself. Every day is an opportunity for me to do something lasting and meaningful. Every day I think about those who made the ultimate sacrifice and no longer have the opportunities that I do. The past few years have not been easy, but I have found a new cause that I am as passionate about pursuing as I was while leading Marines and Sailors in the Special Operations Community. I get up every day excited. I get out of bed knowing the problems I am trying to solve and the impact I hope to have on people’s lives.
I have this opportunity because of everyone who helped me become a Marine Special Operations Officer, the men who saved my life exactly three years ago by risking their lives to save mine, and those who have been there to support me every step of the way since I was injured.
There are too many people to thank individually because I have been fortunate to meet so many people who have had such a positive impact on my life. It is because of you that I am alive and it is because of you that I continue to fight every day to create positive change. Thank you!
It’s been two months since I have posted. This is the longest time I have had between posts and have been procrastinating so that I could prioritize other things that have kept me busy over the past couple of months. There have been some highs and lows but, on average, many more highs than lows.
I started spending more time at the JF Shea Center for Therapeutic Riding. This center is an organization in Orange County, very close to our house, where I go and ride a horse named ‘Braveheart’ for an hour each week. It is a lot of fun and the staff there is incredibly professional. There are some detailed studies about how Hippotherapy affects people with Spinal Cord Injury and Disease (SCI/D) and it certainly helps me with spasticity, pain management and exercise. I highly recommend it for anyone out there and I have heard there are many places to pursue this type of therapy across the country.
I have been exploring the option of utilizing an implanted Baclofen pump that provides a targeted dose of Baclofen intrathecally to the Spinal Cord. There are a lot of benefits associated with the pump, when compared to using the medication orally, and in order to confirm that I would respond to the drug in this manner I had to go in for a lumbar puncture. The procedure went well for the first few hours and I felt great, but very quickly after I left the hospital I started getting headaches, nausea and vertigo. As it turns out, a very small percentage of the population who get lumbar punctures will not heal quickly and this can result in a leak of Cerebro-Spinal Fluid (CSF). This was pretty terrible timing for me and I had to miss some classes to go back in and do another procedure to fix the leak. The procedure worked and I am back to fighting strength. Ironically, one of the classes I am taking is a Medical Technology Innovation class and the project I was assigned to research was ‘Post-Operative Monitoring of CSF.’ I would like to believe that my aptly timed personal experience with this issue helped me in the classroom on my assignment, but can’t be certain.
In December I made the decision to focus my efforts at becoming an entrepreneur in the Medical Device Industry. I have been developing ideas for some time now and think that they have the potential to make a difference in the quality of life for people with SCI/D someday. After I retired from the Military in November, I started pursuing opportunities to prepare myself for this challenge.
I recently started working part-time with a Medical Device startup called Neural Analytics. At Neural Analytics we are developing a non-invasive device that will quantify the measurement of mild and moderate TBI. I was fortunate enough to meet the CEO of this company through the UCLA network and have been supporting their growth, while learning a tremendous amount about how to start and run a company in this industry. Most recently, I have been facilitating operations for the company and assisting with strategy. The team is absolutely phenomenal and I am learning new things everyday from these intelligent entrepreneurs.
Today, I landed in Washington DC where I will be all week for business and other engagements. Primarily, I came here to speak at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Annual Policy Conference. Tomorrow night I will be delivering a short speech at the general session. I am honored to share the stage here with many other incredible speakers who are doing phenomenal things, both in the US and abroad.
Lastly, I have decided to close my FB account. I have created an official FB fan page, that I will continue to update, but will be deactivating my personal account in exactly seven days. If you feel so inclined, please share my new page with anyone you think may be interested. I will also continue to update my twitter and instagram feeds.
It’s been a great year! 2014 has flown by and Maura and I are ready for an exciting 2015.
Thanksgiving went well. We had an incredible spread to celebrate in our new home thanks to my wife and her parents. During my retirement ceremony, some people asked me about an article I published in the Union Tribune San Diego newspaper last Thanksgiving and some of the things I wrote. Looking back on this article, I continue to find gratitude for the same things in my life and still believe that
I spent most of December relaxing and catching up with family. I took two trips this month, one back to Delaware at Christmas and one to Baltimore for the Army-Navy Football game. The football game was a lot of fun and I was hosted by one of my classmates from school. I also got to catch up with a number of my classmates and friends at the game, and Navy won, so it was a phenomenal day.
As the year has come to a close I have taken time to reflect on how this year went and all that I have been fortunate enough to achieve. I can say that my retirement from the Marine Corps was, by far, the highlight of the year. This was the most meaningful event for me because it was an opportunity to connect with so many people that have done so much for me in one event at one time. It truly was an experience I will never forget because of all of the incredible people involved.
Although I am not certain exactly what my future will hold, I am not anxious or concerned by this. I know there are many opportunities available where I can positively impact the people, organizations and society I care so much about. This is what motivates and inspires me to take action, and do my best to honor those who have sacrificed for me, by living life in a way that would make them proud.