War on Terrorism

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Face of Defense: Wounded Veteran Inspires Service Members

By Air Force Maj. Brian Bowman
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq, Feb. 10, 2011Navy veteran, author and inspirational speaker Dave Roever knows a thing or two about scars.

"Everybody has scars," Roever told a group of more than 150 service members gathered here in an event sponsored by the base chaplain. "Mine just happen to be on the outside.”

"Everybody gets hurt," he added. "That's not the question. The question is how [does one] react to getting hurt?"

The veteran’s physical scars stem from severe wounds he’d suffered in 1969 during a tour in Vietnam.

Roever said an enemy sniper's bullet had detonated a white phosphorus grenade that he was holding. The subsequent explosion and intense heat nearly eviscerated him. After his medical evacuation to Japan, Roever said doctors didn’t expect that he’d survive.

Fourteen months and countless surgeries later, Roever did survive -- and eventually would thrive. Where many would have been consumed by bitterness, Roever said he found relief and gratitude in just being alive, and pledged that he’d help other wounded veterans for the rest of his days.

"I don't intend to go out quietly," the 64-year-old veteran said. "I want to make a difference in people's lives."

In 2007, with his wife Brenda, Roever co-founded Eagles Summit Ranch in Colorado, which focuses on helping wounded veterans, both spiritually and by teaching business and life skills.

"It's a beautiful facility up in the mountains," he said. "We're teaching them how to start a business or a [non-profit venture] ... and help[ing] them with the emotional part of recovery."

To hear Roever speak is to follow a winding path of emotionally wrenching stories. Eventually, the listener finds that the stories interlock to focus on the theme of resiliency.

Roever told service members here about a previous time in Iraq when he was asked to say a prayer for a fallen soldier. He said he prayed for God to send someone to comfort the soldier's best friend who lived stateside.

A few days later, Roever said, in the middle of the night at an empty Atlanta airport terminal, a young man sat down next to him even though there were hundreds of empty seats nearby.

Roever learned the man was the best friend of the fallen soldier. The young man, who was returning from his friend's funeral, couldn't understand how Roever knew so much about the situation.

The fallen soldier’s friend asked, 'Who are you?'" Roever recalled.

"And I told him, 'I'm the answer to my own prayer,'" Roever said.

Roever urged married members of his audience to ensure their marriages were strong and to communicate regularly with their loved ones back home.

He also praised his wife of 43 years, for standing by him and caring for him after his horrendous injuries.

"Our marriage [endures] because it is built on desire, not need," he said. "We don't need each other; we want each other. It is a choice.”

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