Ed Heckathorn: Serving after Duty

When I was first contacted by the Foundation to write for the newsletter, I was honored, excited, and nervous about having to come up with something to write.  Then I thought, “Wait, why me?  I don’t have TBI, nor do I have PTSD.”   That said, I do have a story.  As a matter of fact, we all have a story, a story worth sharing.

I am a 12-year Active/Reserve Army Veteran, Staff Sergeant.  At 47 years old, I have two teenage daughters and one young adult son.  I recently become engaged to the love of my life, who has a ten-year-old son.

My military career started back in April of 1992 when I enlisted into the Army in active duty.  I did my basic training in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.  My active-duty job was as a fire support specialist.

After completing my training, I was sent off to Fort Benning for Airborne school and the Ranger Indoctrination Program (RIP).  After completing both, I was sent to my duty station, the 1/75th Ranger Battalion, in Savannah, Georgia.  There I was assigned to Bravo Company, where I spent two years traveling the world and training with what I would consider one of the best units out there.

After serving in the Ranger Battalion, I returned to my hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and went on Reserve status.   My unit was going to be closing down and no other units in the state offered my MOS, so I chose the MOS of military police, keeping me in my hometown.

While on Reserve status, I became employed as a deputy at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office starting in September of 1999.  There were many reservists working at the Sheriff’s Office during this period, and there still are today.

In January 2002, following the unfortunate events of September 11, 2001, my Reserve unit, the 342ndMilitary Police, was activated.  There were nine deputies just in my unit alone that were deployed.  Unsure of our mission, we knew we were shipping out to Fort Dix, New Jersey, for additional training.   This turned out to be quite a life experience.

Our unit worked with contingent Air Force soldiers doing transport missions of captured Taliban in Afghanistan.  We flew from McGuire AFB, New Jersey, to Incirlik AFB, Turkey.  There we planned for the next part of our mission. For security reasons, we would fly at night to a determined location in Afghanistan to pick up Taliban detainees from the ground forces. When we landed, the ground troops would bring their detainees to us to be accounted for and loaded. Then we flew nonstop for 22 hours to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There we unloaded the detainees to other Military Police who then transported them to Camp X-ray to process them. Then we would fly back to McGuire AFB, New Jersey. This all happened in roughly a 96-hour turnaround time.  Then the mission would repeat itself all over again in a week or two.

As I would imagine is true with most who have served, I am not sure I could ever truly put into words my experience of my time in service and how it has affected me as a human being, both in positive and negative ways.

One of the impacts it had on me is making me appreciate all that I do have and all that I have done.  During my 12 years of military service, I’ve traveled all over the United States, training with other units. I’ve traveled to Turkey, Cuba, Afghanistan, Egypt, and Panama twice.  In all my travels, I have seen many diverse backgrounds, cultures, and demographics; poverty and oppression; diseases and maladies. All of this has only made me appreciate more all the freedoms we have as Americans.  It has taught me to slow down and take some time to talk to people and recognize others.  Our soldiers are fighting and dying in countries with far fewer rights, freedoms, and opportunities than ours. There are soldiers and veterans living here and coming home every day with cognitive and physical injuries who are not able to get the help they so desperately need and are so ever-deserving of.

Getting out of the Reserves in 2004 was not an easy transition for me.  I was a Staff Sergeant and squad leader and it was hard to leave my brothers and sisters. Once you enlist, there is a very strong, real, and unique bond that one develops with what many would consider family.  I truly missed that bond and connection.  And while in the service, I had lost a “brother” who had become my best friend, the emotional impacts of which I still feel today.

While leaving the military was difficult on an emotional and personal level and I was dealing with that, for quite a period, I was burying the physical pains that I was experiencing. I had been a leader and thought I was going to just get through it and continue my time at the Sheriff’s Office and not face any of my physical ailments.   Then there finally came a point in time when I realized that I needed to reach out to the VA and to outside physicians and get the medical help that was there for me.

When I finally decided to seek treatment in 2008, I first had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Chrisanne Gordon.  This is when my post-military life changed forever.  I was her patient first, but now I have the distinct pleasure of calling her my Hero.

For those that are fortunate enough to know Dr. Gordon, you know she’s an amazing doctor.   However, you also know that if you get her in the room with another talkative person, hours later they will most likely still be chatting away.  That is exactly what happened and what started our relationship.  She and I talked for more than an hour at my appointment and it wasn’t all about my injury. We talked about veterans with harsh injuries and traumas, and about how difficult it was for them to get the proper diagnoses and treatments. She was so energetic and full of passion to help veterans that I was totally INfrom that moment on.

Beginning with Operation Resurrectionand then Resurrecting Lives Foundation, I’ve worked with and helped organize multiple fundraisers. Working with Dr. Gordon from the beginning, I’ve traveled with her to Arlington West in Santa Monica, California, for the beach display memorial for our soldiers fallen since 2001. I’ve traveled twice to Washington, DC, with her and my fellow friends/veterans Chris Lawrence, Wendell Guillermo, and Curtis Armstrong to advocate and to talk to Congressional representatives on behalf of our Foundation.

Working with the Foundation combined with my 20 years at the Sheriff’s office, with the last 10 years being in court services, I had the opportunity to observe an area where our court system was severely lacking.  I connected Dr. Gordon and retired Ohio Judge Evelyn Stratton to address this issue for our veterans.  In doing so, we now have established a Veterans Court in Franklin County, Ohio, where the focus is on treatment rather than punishment.

Dr. Gordon has been a true inspiration to me and there is nothing I wouldn’t do to help her and the amazing Foundation. I proudly volunteer with the Resurrecting Lives Foundation or advocate for our mission because I feel a sense of pride in who we are and what we represent.  It is a cause I truly believe in.  Being a part of this organization also has given me the sense of military family I was missing for so many years.  I feel right at home again when talking to any member of the Foundation.  For that, I am forever grateful.


RLF in the Community:

Ohio Cyclist Inspired to Ride for Veterans

Doug Chivington is combining his passion for ultra-distance cycling and supporting military veterans into a yearlong quest to educate others about traumatic brain injuries and the mission of the Resurrecting Lives Foundation.

Chivington, 59, of Bellefontaine, Ohio, will participate in several ultra-distance cycling events –each 100 miles or more – to raise funds for RLF.  To donate, visit our special website addition, or use your mobile phone to text “GoDoug” to 44321.

A lifelong runner and cyclist, Chivington has focused on ultra-distance cycling for about 10 years. He has been able to train full-time after retiring in March from Honda of America, where he was a human resources manager. While at Honda, he met RLF founder, Dr. Chrisanne Gordon, when she spoke to company officials about hiring veterans. His interest in helping veterans is motivated by his son’s combat injury suffered in 2006 while he was serving in Iraq. His son has recovered but Chivington said he became an advocate for veterans with such injuries. “God has given me the talent to sit on a bicycle for a long period of time,” he said. “I would like to ride with a purpose and support our Veterans.”In addition to the Foundation, he is also sponsored by Cycle Zone, a bicycle shop, and BRL Sports Nutrition.

Chivington is looking to set a state record for his age group (50-59) for the World UltraCycling Association when he sets out on September 11 from the Cincinnati Zoo to the Toledo Zoo. In 2020 he plans to participate in at least four ultra-distance cycling events and hopes to raise at least $50,000 for the foundation. He also plans to meet with veterans and create a cycling team for the foundation. “It will be mentally and physically challenging to do these events and there is a connection with veterans because recovering from a traumatic brain injury is mentally and physically challenging,” he said. “I don’t want them to give up.”

The foundation believes he can accomplish his goals, said Dr. Gordon. “It is incredible,” she said. “We are so grateful for his efforts and proud to be a part of his journey.”

Ohio Every Day Heroes in our midst

Ohio’s third annual Every Day Heroes campaign has selected Resurrecting Lives Foundation founder Dr. Chrisanne Gordon as a finalist, along with 4 other Ohio residents.  The initiative, co-sponsored by the Columbus Dispatch/Dispatch Media Group, the Columbus Foundation, the United Way of Central Ohio, the Columbus Center of Science and Industry, and CME Federal Credit Union, will name a Dispatch Media Group Hero at a luncheon on October 1.  The series focuses on people who live in the Columbus area and “quietly work to heal, unite and improve our communities.”

RLF programs to bring SAD lights to Fisher House Alaska veterans and to drive meditation techniques as a coping mechanism for veterans with TBI or PTSD were highlighted in the Every Day Heroes publications.  Congratulations to the finalists, semifinalists, and all of the heroes we work with every day.

Dr.Gordon Featured as a Cardinal Mooney High School (Youngstown, Ohio) Outstanding Alumnus

As a way to spotlight Mooney graduates and their accomplishments, service, and focus on the school’s tradition of “Sanctity, Scholarship, and Discipline,” Cardinal Mooney High School has begun a website series featuring outstanding alumni.  Dr. Gordon was honored recently in the Alumni Spotlight, where she credited her teachers as “brilliant and dedicated men and women who…. decided to utilize their talents in the Catholic School system to shape lives, communities, and a nation.” She cited her years at the school as “the ‘boot camp for the mission she would eventually embrace.

Lifting up our Veterans

Resurrecting Lives Foundation supported Lifting up our Veterans, a Union County (Ohio) mental health program held in August that was aimed at local veterans.  The Mental Health and Recovery Board of Union County and the local Veterans Service Office sponsored the 2-hour workshop because of an increase in local veteran suicides.  More than 3000 veterans reside in the county.

The program focused on TBI and PTSD, and featured information on how to help spot warning signs of mental health trouble and where and how to find resources.  RLF founder Dr. Gordon was the guest speaker along with Ohio State Senator Dave Burke.

Seventh Annual Scopus Sedge Fest!

If you are in or near Scopus, Missouri on October 12, seek out the good times at this annual fundraiser in the little town with the  big heart.  Every year, Scopus residents band together to stage a music festival, sell country favorite foods (and lemonade!), hold an
auction, and play games –including the infamous Chicken Poop Bingo.  In the process, they raise some money and give it all away to organizations that help kids and vets, all in memory of their dear friend Warren Miller.  This year, the fun starts at 11:00 am, auction starts at 2:30, and the 3-band concert featuring Curtis Cook and the Damn Band, Silver Fox, and Route 67, starts at 5 pm.  Proceeds from the day benefit RLF and the Heartland Down Syndrome Association.  We thank Scopus again for keeping us close.

From the Board: Seth Freshly

  • Captain Seth Freshly, Ohio Army National Guard, and IT Supervisor at Cardinal Health, joined the RLF Board of Directors in November 2018, taking on the role of Treasurer. In 2014, Seth left active duty and relocated his family to the Columbus, Ohio area.  Captain Freshly has earned numerous awards, including the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Meritorious Service Medal.At Cardinal, Seth has managed teams to deliver projects and manage IT assets. He volunteers with the Cardinal Health Veterans and Military Advocates employee resource group and has worked on hiring, retention, and recognition initiatives within the group. Prior to Cardinal, he was an IT project manager at Fast Switch, Ltd.As Army National Guard Captain, Seth was Battery Commander for Alpha Battery, a field unit of over 100 soldiers based in Delaware, Ohio. His unit, Alpha Battery, participated in the Republican National Convention in July 2016 and in Operation Northern Strike in August 2017. He is currently serving at the Joint Force Headquarters as a guard emergency liaison officer.

I grew up in Northeast Ohio with my older brother and parents. I knew I wanted to serve from a young age, due to the fascination towards adventure, machinery, and might that the military exudes. While in my sophomore year at high school, the attacks on September 11, 2001 marked the moment I sealed my decision to join the military.

After high school, I attended the United States Military Academy Preparatory School in Fort Monmouth, NJ from 2004-2005. Following that I earned a nomination to the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY from 2005-2009. There I studied International Law and competed on the pistol team.

After branching field artillery I selected an assignment at Fort Polk, Louisiana with 4th Brigade, 10th Mountain Division– the last place you would expect a mountain unit to be stationed. Selecting Fort Polk was an easy decision for me and a shocking decision for everyone else. I received a standing ovation because that meant one less Fort Polk spot for everyone else, but my fiancée (now wife) was at LSU studying civil engineering, so I didn’t really consider any other post.

I deployed to Afghanistan for 12 months in 2010, only two months after marrying the love of my life. There was a great deal of pride that I felt to be serving, but also a great deal of pain to be leaving my wife for a year. The experiences from that deployment and the large amount of support from back home formed the foundation of my desire to volunteer and give back.

My son was born in 2013 while I was stationed at Fort Stewart, Georgia, and by 2014 I was transitioning off active duty. I knew that I wanted to continue to serve and found an assignment with the Ohio Army National Guard. I also found that there were a multitude of dedicated individuals who wanted to help with finding a job for a transitioning veteran.

I started working at Cardinal Health in 2014 thanks largely to the help of the veterans and military advocates within the company. After starting, I began seeing all the various charity events that were being held and knew I wanted to help as well. Over the past five years I have volunteered with various internal veteran initiatives and added 3 more children to my family. After my twins were born in October 2018, Dr. Gordon reached out and asked if I was interested in joining RLF. I was most grateful for the offer and knew it would be an amazing opportunity and a personal learning experience since I had suffered a mild traumatic brain injury from an IED blast overseas. Resurrecting Lives Foundation is among only a handful of nonprofits that bring attention to returning military who have suffered from TBI. From the Foundation’s early work to support landmark scientific research on the effects of blast waves on the brain to ongoing collaboration with businesses to raise the hiring profile of veterans, RLF shows its commitment to its mission on a regular basis.

Since joining RLF, I have seen numerous selfless individuals who seek very little recognition and give a very large amount of time

and effort to this cause. The willingness and attitude of our volunteers is nothing short of amazing. It is truly humbling and something for all of us to strive towards.



By: Seth Freshly


Those who came back scarred…

It has been 18 years since the horrific September 11 attacks that took the lives of thousands of people and shocked and yet mobilized our nation. In New York, Virginia, and rural Pennsylvania, first responders shouldered the terrible burden of being first on the scene, attempting to preserve and respect life. Many of them carried away injuries of the body or soul… or were not able to walk away at all.

For many years after, young men and women joined our military because of this crisis, and engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan or Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. Many of those service members also carried away injuries of the body or soul… or were not able to walk away at all.

But where September 11 inspired our youth to join in the fight, those who came back scarred have inspired the rest of America through their own private wars, fighting to resume civilian life. It has not been easy.

Many of them carried away injuries of the body or soul… or were not able to walk away at all.

Eighteen years is a generation; those joining the military now have little visceral connection to September 11 or OEF or OIF. But for those surviving service men and women who joined because of September 11, who sacrificed on the battlefield over the last 18 years for our freedoms, and especially those who carry the most invisible of the wounds of war – Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder or Traumatic Brain Injury – Resurrecting Lives Foundation is eternally grateful. As a nation, we need to be united behind those who sacrificed, as they were united for us.

Hitting the links for Veterans with TBI

Golf may very well be the most appropriate metaphor for life: the US Golf Association rules that golfers should “Play the ball as it lies, play the course as you find it, and if you cannot do either, do what is fair.”

Cardinal Health’s employees once again staged a fair, successful, and fun golf outing at the Golf Club of Dublin on August 25, 2019, in order to raise awareness for veterans with TBI or PTSD who do their best to play the ball as it lies. This fourth annual fundraiser welcomed 121 golfers in 31 teams, who competed for bragging rights and door prizes, and general all-around camaraderie. Corporate sponsors included Microsoft, Deloitte, Memorial Health, Google Cloud, Rolta Advizex, CDW, Service Now, Network 9, Fastswitch, The Select Group, ComResource, Zscaler, Equinix, Fahrenheit IT Staffing, Witron, Calculate Hire, DeToto, Axway, AWH, Thompson Hine, Manhattan Associates, Huntington, Apex Systems, Adaptive Sports Connection, Insight, HP Enterprise, and Teradata, and of course Cardinal Health and Resurrecting Lives Foundation.

Keynote speaker at the event was veteran Bill Chisum, a Cardinal Health employee working in Alaska. Chisum, an RLF ambassador, heads up the Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) light project for RLF.

Below is the text that formed the basis for Bill’s speech.

Good afternoon. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for having me here today. My name is Bill Chisum, and I am a 10-year Air Force veteran and a five-year Cardinal Health employee. I am a happily married father of three. I have fought in 2 wars with 3 deployments, one of which is still affecting my family to this day.

During my career in the United States Air Force, I worked Medical Supply as a customer of Cardinal Health. For 10 years I worked directly with the fine folks of Cardinal Health as a customer. Prior to my separation, Cardinal Health accepted my application for a position as a Cardinal Health Field Service Rep for the Government, a role which I have thoroughly enjoyed because I am able to assist those who still serve. Basically, I am a dedicated on-site customer service rep. During my training, I knew that I had made the right transition. Having the opportunity to work with my former unit allowed me to slowly stick my tippy toes into the civilian world. I knew that it felt at home, to work for a company that had an Employee Resource Group such as Cardinal’s Veterans and Military Advocates.

I struggled; I really had a lot of anxiety and fear about being accepted into a society that was protesting and “occupying” America, and in my mind, I was now entering my own private Vietnam. In all honesty, I feared that it was just me against the world.

I began working for Cardinal Health at my prior unit, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska in 2014, which brings me to how I met Dr. Chrisanne Gordon and the amazing people of THE Resurrecting Lives Foundation.

It was in the fall of 2015 and was I was excited to finally be able to participate in something at the corporate level. You see, even though I have never lived in Ohio, I have family that is from here. And being able to support them and give them an avenue to seek help is ultimately all that I was looking for. The VMA was doing a fundraiser and pairing with Resurrecting Lives Foundation. I had come up with the idea to do a fundraiser based off of No-Shave November, reflecting on what I recall as being TBI awareness month. While things did not work out originally as planned, I was able to keep in touch and develop a relationship with Dr. Gordon.

Through constant communication, it came out that I was struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which affects roughly 10 million adults every year. I was at a critical level of five nanograms of Vitamin D in my blood serum (a related marker for SAD), and trying to deal with the long winters in Alaska. Dr. Gordon came up with a great idea of researching and studying how seasonal affective disorder affects veterans with TBI or PTSD and she sent me the first shipment of 20 SAD lights to distribute out to veterans and first responders.

Writing this speech has brought back a lot of emotion and grief. I remembered the morning that I woke up at 3 am. As I was unable to sleep, I sat up to read the news that there was another bombing in the capital of Kabul, a hell hole that I had just returned from. My team consisted of members of every service component, but the ones that kept us alive were our force protection. They were members of the Ohio National Guard’s 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Among the fallen in Afghanistan – 283 from the state of Ohio – were soldiers that I remember: SPC Todd M. Bates, SSG Aaron T. Reese, SGT Michael C. Barkey, PFC Samuel R. Bowen, Cpl Brad Davis, 1LT Ashley White-Stumpf, SPC Ryan A. Martin, 1LT Charles L. Wilkins III, SGT Jeremy M. Hodge, SFC Daniel J. Pratt, SFC Daniel Crabtree, LT COL Kevin Sonnenberg, SGT Anthony M. Vinnedge ,CPT Nicholas Rozanski, MSG Shawn Hannon, MSG Jeffrey Rieck, SPC Cody D. Suggs.

As I was unable to sleep, I sat up to read the news that there was another bombing in the capital of Kabul, a hell hole that I had just returned from.

Like you, I have a desire to offer my support to those who have served our great nation and communities around the world. To see that no one feels alone and isolated as I did, I have dedicated a considerable amount of my time to several non-profit organizations:

  • I have lead courses and given testimony with Soldiers Heart, a curriculum that is teaching attendees healthy ways to cope with PTSD and is growing nationally and has expanded to include law enforcement, EMT and fire-rescue first responders.
  • Alaska’s Healing Hearts is a national organization offering year-round outdoor recreational opportunities for America’s brave wounded warriors and their families. Rehabilitation activities include fishing, hunting, skiing, rodeo, dog sledding tours, and various other outdoor pursuits.
  • Similarly, I am a pro-staff member for The Fallen Outdoors, which facilitates hunting and fishing trips for military and veterans while honoring those that gave their lives so that we can still play in the field.
  • And Finally the Fisher House of Alaska, where in conjunction with Cardinal Health, and active-duty Airmen, we raised over $1500 in gift cards and presents to provide daily Christmas gifts to patrons through December back in 2018.

It is gratifying that all of these organizations are merging in my life: in July of last year, the Fisher House of Alaska expanded from a 15-bed to a 35-bed facility. And in wanting to keep in tune with our family relationship, The Resurrecting Lives Foundation sent an additional 20 SAD lights just for the guests of the Fisher House.

I am pleased and honored to be here today with you to salute Cardinal Health, Resurrecting Lives Foundation, and the veterans with TBI or PTSD who have earned our support beyond measure. Thank you.

RLF in the Community: “Living with TBI: a Conversation on Working, Socializing, and Thriving”

Living with TBI: a Conversation on Working, Socializing, and Thriving

In partnership with Duquesne University Office of Military and Veteran Students, Veterans Breakfast Club, and  The Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, Resurrecting Lives Foundation founder Chrisanne Gordon, MD, will host a panel discussion this month on Living with TBI. This community conversation will focus on those who’ve experienced traumatic brain injury and have learned not only to live with it, but to thrive. TBI has been a lesser-known injury until relatively recently, as veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan began returning home with head injuries that disrupted brain function.

Special guest is slated to be Dr. Cyril Wecht, nationally acclaimed forensic expert whose work has been utilized in high profile cases involving Mary Jo Kopechne, Sunny von Bulow, Jean Harris, Dr. Jeffrey McDonald, the Waco Branch Davidian fire, and Vincent Foster.

Light refreshments will be offered, followed by the program, which is free and open to the public.  Join us on September 24 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm in the Africa Room in the Student Union, Duquesne University (1000 Locust St, Pittsburgh, PA 15219). Discounted $6 parking is available at Forbes Parking Garage. RSVP to ellie@veteransbreakfastclub.com or 412-623-9029