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Wednesday
Apr282010

Kevin Sullivan, age 33

Currently Resides: Cary, NC
Hometown: Hampstead, NH
Birthplace: Newton, MA
Served: US Air Force, 2001-2007 (Operation Iraqi Freedom/Enduring and Horn of Africa)

Not all injuries are visible…a lot of veterans (diagnosed and undiagnosed) are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and PTSD.”  – Kevin Sullivan

Kevin Sullivan was working in Finance in Boston in 2000 when he had a life-changing experience.  During a Tall Ships exhibition, he saw a soldier from another nation salute an American solider.  He was so moved that he left the corporate world and joined the U.S. Air Force.

He made a similar leap of faith when he signed on to ride in Sea to Shining Sea.   “I had been quietly living with anxiety/PTSD for years.  I haven't discussed it with anyone, except my wife and parents. The truth is that I felt ashamed for being diagnosed with a disorder and guilty for not being able to continue my military career. “

Kevin decided to tell his story.  “War brings on a whole set of unseen injuries that are not talked about.   Seeking mental health assistance in the military is viewed as a weakness and the stigma is hard to shake.”    He wants to draw attention to the fact that not all war wounds are visible, and that mental health is a real casualty of war.

Before his medical release in 2007, Kevin had an outstanding military record.  He flew more than 400 combat sorties in Iraq, Afghanistan and Horn of Africa, earning several Medals.  But, in time, he became increasingly short tempered and jumpy.  In his eyes, every Iraqi was the enemy; every parked truck hid someone with a gun.  During a mission, Kevin suffered a severe panic attack that he was rendered unconscious.  The diagnoses:  severe PTSD.

Today, thanks to the help of his family and the Air Force/VA medical staff, he feels he has the tools to manage his symptoms.   He is studying to become a Physician Assistant, inspired by the aero-medical evacuation flight teams he knew in Iraq.  An avid athlete, Kevin is a member of a rowing team, competes in Brazilian Jui Jitsui, and trains in boxing, kick boxing, and mixed martial arts.

An active member of the VFW and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Kevin wants to make a difference for wounded veterans.  “I consider myself lucky to have my life and limbs.”

Read Kevin's personal blog

Reader Comments (6)

Good morning Kevin,
Really glad to have met you yesterday. I note from having read your bio that we have a lot in common. Enjoy all that pine air on your way to Kirkwood. Wish I could be with you.
John Marshall

May 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

Hello, I'm an State Farm employee.
You're an amazing person just by your storey.
May you have a awesome ride and we'll see you in Emmitsburg, MD :)

May 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLori

Hello Kevin:

I am Todd Brunkhorst step-mom and it was such a honor to hear that you are dedicating one leg of the trip in his memory. Maryanna told us about it and it is such a honor to know that Todd had so many friends that thought alot of him. I will try and log on daily to see your progress. When do you plan on being on the leg that will be in his honor?

June 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSandy Brunkhorst

Kevin, Joe passed me the photo in the mountains, awesome scenery. I hadn't caught your background before, carry the flag high bro, there are a lot of folks out there bearing the silent curse of depression & PTSD. I hope the bike is working well for you and add my email to your files in case you need anything and can't catch Joe. If I can break free from the gravity of Planet Bragg, I'd like to try to get up and ride a stage or two with y'all in PA, MD, or VA. Ride Irish, Ride Safe, & God Bless, V/R,Tom

June 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTom Brew

Hi Kevin:
I tried to leave a message on your blog but with no luck. I just want to thank you so, so much for all the updates and pictures you have provided these past two months. I have printed them off and they are hanging in my office. They all have been keeping track of you all. Chad's mom, his aunt and I will all be there on Saturday when you reach the end!!! Can hardly wait to see you all again. We followed you from the Golden Gate into Sacramento. Hope to be able to give you a big hug on Saturday.
Thanks again for keeping us updated :-)
Polly Blackett - Chad's grandma in CA!

July 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPolly

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