Guest blogger: Tom Rancich, CEO of VRHabilis
Our Prime Directive at VRHabilis is to hire Disabled Vets. That’s the reason we’re in business. Which is all well and good – but it took a visit last week to the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio to really give me a solid path forward.
Holy Mary mother of Gawd---what a place-----injured, burned, amputee and generally “hit bad folks” rebuilding their lives---and smiling---and looking forward to the rest of their lives without their legs or former faces or arms. Now I know they are not that happy all the time---but they are happy at least some of that time---and they are working with less than they had before. Talk about a humbling experience. The first person I meet is a bright-eyed handsome 24 year-old kid with burns all over his face and arms---bad burns---and he is like, “I am great Sir—and you?” and I have to admit that I probably failed at my half of the conversation. But they are still working at it—working at living.
It’s not that I can’t walk the walk! I’ve been injured in the line of duty too. In October of 1997 Red Lion 617 hit the water at about 160 knots---Hilliard, Woody and Voighter were killed---everyone was hurt--I had a fractured ribs, fractured lumbar vertebrae, fractured thoracic vertebrae, dislocated hip and multiple contusions BUT I did not know about the spine problems---nor did the Docs. So the next day---I am getting out of bed and putting on my pants---which I can’t get over my swollen ass----and the Doc comes by and says---back into bed---and I was like--If you are not willing to write me up (for disobeying an order) then don’t give me an order to get back in bed….it was critically important to me to show my Admiral that I was still in the fight but even more important---to show the world that Task Unit Enterprise was combat ready---not that the world would see----but –maybe—for the fear that we would be tested and fail if we did not get back on our guns. If you’re wondering how I rehabbed? Slow and steady---and I actually listened to the docs. Here’s an article about what happened.
Back to CFI---I went there to discuss employing “graduates” from CFTI and they were awe-inspiring. Here is something that you don't know--when they start warriors out on prosthetics they turn the feet backward ‘cause folks fall backward more often. This is how well thought out this place is---they have a virtual lab that puts the kids on a boat--so they have to adjust their weight on the new legs---they are in a harness but how cool is that? It’s a surfing wave like on cruise ships so guys can develop core strength while having fun. At CFTI, if something’s not quite right they adjust and send the guy for a walk around----and they do the thing with body sensors so they can computerize the body movements and then check for irregular gait--non-equilateral movement etc.---really high speed, which, of course, is how it should be but still verra verra cool!
I was blown away at every turn---I was like, Well, that was well thought out. So anyway, it is an astounding facility manned by astounding folks helping the most astounding folks and I was honored to be able to make the visit.
I do not know where they get the courage----but they are the best of the boiling*. The lack of bitterness or self-pity was one of the most humbling parts of the visit---about 50% of the kids choose, if able, to stay in the service.
If Legends of the Fall is on your keeper shelf, you’ll recognize my reference. If not, hie thee to your nearest video store!
Lt. Commander Thomas Rancich, US Navy SEAL (Ret.) is the co-founder of VRHabilis, a disabled veteran-owned small business that seeks to employ the highly trained and motivated veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars for work in construction and related fields. Rancich and co-founder Elliott Adler are pioneering the concept of using adaptive technology to bridge the gap between industrial and medical technology. Their company contributes proceeds to two worthy causes: a fund for the development of adaptive technology that will allow disabled veterans to pursue their desired career path and the EOD Wounded Warrior Fund.
Through his consulting firm, Off-Shore Consulting, Tom provides professional advice on leadership and team building, often as a motivational speaker, in addition to being an expert consultant to the entertainment industry.
Alden Mills and Charlie Mike blogger Tom Rancich served together in the Teams.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Guest blogger: Tom Rancich, CEO of VRHabilis