When Alvin Buckley, our employment specialist here at Voice of Calvary and a retired veteran, heard from a fellow vet about Gresham Gregg, a Marine veteran paralyzed in his legs, suffering from PTSD, and battling severe depression after his return from Afghanistan, there was never any option other than taking immediate action.
“He’d lost the will to live. People don’t know what it’s like to come back from that kind of experience and try to move on in your life – especially when you’re wounded, or suffering from PTSD. It can be debilitating,” said Alvin.
As a veteran himself, who once came through our Soldier On program, Alvin now runs this program for veterans in need, and takes pride in helping others who need assistance finding employment, resources and support in civilian life.
“There’s a slogan in the military – never leave anybody behind – and I keep that in mind in everything I do through this work,” he said.
“When it came to Gresham, I knew he needed to understand that he wasn’t alone. And I believed that working together to complete a challenging obstacle would remind him of that.”
Alvin and another vet, Arthur Ware, drove from Jackson to Greenwood, Mississippi, to pick up Gresham and make the trip to Chicago, where the three of them participated in the Spartan Race – a race known for its difficulty in involving obstacles like ladders, rope climbs, and rough terrain.
The course was five miles long, and took the three seven hours, from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., to finish. But working together, they did it, never losing spirit as others raced by, passing with relative ease through obstacles that took them hours to navigate.
Gresham kept apologizing for being a burden – “but we kept telling him, Man, you’re helping us. We all need help getting our life back in order, finding our way. This is for all of us,” said Alvin.
“He just needed to see that no one is left behind. No one is alone in this life.”
By the end of the day, as the final obstacle neared – a 7 foot high wall that had to be scaled – word had spread about the three-man veteran team making their slow and steady way through the course.
A group of racers gathered to help Gresham cross the wall, and lowered him down to the final stretch to the finish line, where a crowd was gathered to shout their encouragement from the sidelines.
With his Solider On brothers by his side, adding security to his every step, Gresham crossed the finish line to the sound of deafening cheers and joy.
“There were some tears shed,” said Alvin, smiling.
“Finishing the Spartan Race with my brothers was the most exhilarating experience I have ever had in my life,” said Gresham.
If you would like to help make more Spartan Race experiences possible for veterans in need, please make a donation to Voice of Calvary Ministries here and designate your gift for Veterans Services.