This blog started as an idea from a design project in grad school to “Reimagine” how we share the Wounded Warrior experience with American society. I was wounded in Iraq in 2004, suffering a severe internal injury. Now I TICK WHEN I RUN. You will read stories on how endurance sports have helped me CRUSH adversity, conquering my injuries both mentally and physically. Physical fitness, especially endurance sports, changes lives for the better. FIRED UP!
Some have decided that raising awareness of veteran suicide
is the first step. While I believe it is important for folks to know what’s
going on, I find the “22 a day” movement, as seen on this Facebook feed too negative to do much good. Suicide is not just a Veteran problem—it’s an
American problem, and if the narrative around suicide only talks about
Veterans, the unintended consequence will be that Veterans will continue to be
seen as broken. I myself am a wounded war fighter, but I’m definitely not broken. I am
a member of Team Red, White and Blue which is one of the few organizations that
pushes its members to be better every day through positive connection with people
in the community, which is something all of us could use more of.
As I thought about this “22 a day” movement, I pondered how
I could take a design thinking approach to create a more positive narrative
regarding Veterans. I looked through my social media feeds and was surprised to
find that NO Veterans Service Organization was attacking this problem. In fact,
most of them amplify the “22 a day” message. Design thinking is based on human
centered design, and suicide is a people problem. Rather than seeing suicide as
an unsolvable paradox, I started thinking of suicide as a problem—a problem
that must have an answer, or a combination of answers.
The Veteran Community Design Challenge:
How can we as the Veteran community create a more positive
narrative that maintains awareness of Veterans issues, adds accountability, and encourages community members and
Veterans to reach out to each other?
When I was in the Army, we had what we called “First Call”,
which was a time first thing in the morning where we would make sure that all
of the soldiers were accounted for before we began our daily physical fitness
formation. The point was to make sure everyone was where they were supposed to
be and that they were doing what they were supposed to be doing. Physical
training was important for keeping us in shape enough to do our jobs, and
everyone had to go through it together. I then thought about how I might be
able to use social media to create a social “First Call” and challenge Veterans
and community members to connect with each other, hold themselves and each
other accountable, and post what they were doing for their morning routine.
I decided to use the “First Call” and “Veterans” hashtag on
Twitter. I started posting my pictures, holding myself and my fellow Veterans accountable.My first post was on May 4th and
it has been slowly gaining awareness. I quickly iterated and added posts using
the “Joining Forces” hashtag as well, which has helped to create more
Jonathan, the 300 K Man, is an experienced leader and coach with a proven record of leading and developing others to perform at higher levels and improve their overall effectiveness. He has a passion for learning and developing others to improve as leaders. Jonathan brings lessons from over 25 years of experience leading in U.S. Army Infantry, Cavalry, and Armor units in a wide range of assignments, to include leading soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Korea. He is a decorated veteran and a recipient of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award. Jonathan served as a faculty member at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY before transitioning from the Army in 2015. He is a certified Executive Coach and operates his own leadership coaching business: http://www.quicksmartsleadership.com