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“Even in My Moment of Deepest Despair, I Couldn’t Quit”: A U.S. Army Colonel’s Remarkable Story of Courage, Recovery, and Perseverance (Part II)

The FourBlock Podcast

Release Date: 04/05/2021

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“Even in my moment of deepest despair, I couldn’t quit, because that wasn’t who I was. That wasn’t how I was wired.”

In an incredibly inspiring two-episode series, Colonel Gregory D. Gadson recounts his experience serving our nation in the United States Army for more than 26 years; the harrowing injury that nearly took his life and cost him both legs above the knees and normal use of his right arm and hand; his remarkable recovery and what got him through it; and his subsequent career as an actor, entrepreneur, artist, and advocate for wounded warriors, veterans and those with disabilities. Col. Gadson’s story serves as inspiration for us all to be a force for positive change in our own communities.

In the two-part interview, Gol. Gadson also discusses his experience and shares insights on issues that are top of mind pertaining to diversity and inclusion. In 2020, he was one of 12 veterans from exceptionally diverse backgrounds who came together to co-found diversitypop™, a new, effective, unbiased learning technology and mobile app and the world’s first self-paced diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) learning & engagement application.

After having accomplished so much in his life in so many different realms, Col. Gadson shares why he continues to give back to this day: “There’s no more mountains for me to climb, no more dragons for me to slay. So now it’s about paying it forward.... It’s about preparing the next generation to deal with the problems that they’re going to have to deal with.”

A Chesapeake, Va. native, Col. Gadson, served our nation in the United States Army for more than 26 years. His service culminated as the Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir, where he oversaw the daily operations of the post, a strategic sustaining base where more than 50,000 military personnel and employees provide logistical, intelligence, medical and administrative support, and command and control for a mix of more than 140 commands and agencies for the Department of Defense.

A 25-year career Army officer, Col. Gadson’s life is a portrait of courage in the face of great adversity. In May 2007, as commander of the 2nd Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, Col. Gadson’s greatest challenge came in Iraq, where an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack cost him both legs above the knees and normal use of his right arm and hand. Despite this, Gadson remained on active duty in the Army and continued to inspire many with his message of courage, perseverance, determination and teamwork. Refusing to be defined by the proverbial “hail of bullets,” he has since drawn upon the lessons of Pride, Poise and Team, learned as a West Point linebacker, and applied them to his life, career and family.

Commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant of Field Artillery in 1989 from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Col. Gadson served in every major conflict of the past two decades, including Operations Desert Shield/Storm in Kuwait; Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina; Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He served in various assignments throughout the world and dedicated himself to leading the Soldiers, civilian employees and family members in living the Army Values of Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. He is a passionate advocate for wounded warriors, veterans and those with disabilities; on several occasions, testified before Congress on issues related to these groups.

In 2007, Tom Coughlin, New York Giants head coach, asked Col. Gadson to meet with the then-struggling team. He talked to the players about service, teamwork, duty, perseverance and adversity. His message resonated and the New York Giants defeated the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He made his silver screen debut in 2012 as a lead actor in the blockbuster movie Battleship; where he portrayed a war-injured veteran that helped save the world from an alien invasion.

Col. Gadson continues a very energetic and dynamic lifestyle where he continues to serve his nation as an entrepreneur and managing partner of Patriot Strategies, LLC, a government services company. He continues acting, currently in The Inspectors, a family television series on CBS. He is also an accomplished photographer/artist and remains active in cycling, skiing and scuba.

Col. Gadson serves on the Board of Directors for MedTechVets, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assists and prepares transitioning service members and military veterans for meaningful employment in medical device and life science companies. MedTechVets’ network has grown to nearly 100 life science and medical device companies, hundreds of mentors, and thousands of veterans.

Col. Gadson’s military awards include the Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit (2); Bronze Stars (3); Purple Heart; the Meritorious Service Medal (3) and the Army Commendation Medal (3). He is a graduate of Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; and holds master's degrees in Information Systems from Webster University and Policy Management from Georgetown University. He holds an honorary Doctorate of Law from Webster University.

ABOUT US

Welcome to the FourBlock Podcast, a show that examines veteran career transition and the military-civilian divide in the workplace.

General Charles Krulak coined the term "Three Block War" to describe the nature of 21st-century military service defined by peace-keeping, humanitarian aid, and full combat.

But what happens next? Veterans are often unprepared to return home and begin new careers. We call this the Fourth Block. 

FourBlock is a national non-profit that has supported thousands of transitioning service members across the nation in beginning new and meaningful careers. 

Mike Abrams (@fourblock) is an Afghanistan veteran, founder of FourBlock, and author of two military transition books. He’ll be representing the military transition perspective.

Lindsey Pollak (@lindsaypollak) is a career and workplace expert and New York Times bestselling author of three career advice books. Lindsey will be representing the civilian perspective of this issue. 

Veterans, explore new industries and make the right connections. Find a career that fits your calling. Join us at fourblock.org/

Sponsor our program or host a class to equip more of our veterans at fourblock.org/donate.


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Podcast episodes are produced and edited by the Columbia University Center for Veteran Transition and Integration.