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Veteran speaker knows about scars

  • Published
  • By Maj. Brian Bowman
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Veteran, author and inspirational speaker Dave Roever knows a thing or two about scars.

"Everybody has scars," he told a group of more than 150 people here in an event sponsored by the base chaplains. "Mine just happen to be on the outside.

"Everybody gets hurt," he said. "That's not the question. The question is how (does one) react to getting hurt?"

Mr. Roever's scars stem from a 1969 Vietnam tour of duty.

As a Navy "Brown Water Black Beret," a sniper's bullet pierced a white phosphorus grenade in his hand. The subsequent explosion, and intense heat, nearly eviscerated him. After his eventual medical evacuation to Japan, he was not expected to survive long.
Fourteen months and countless surgeries later, Mr. Roever did survive -- and eventually thrive. Where many would have been consumed by bitterness, Mr. Roever found gratitude in just being alive, and eventually, making a difference to others.

"I don't intend to go out quietly," the 64-year old said. "I want to make a difference in people's lives."

To that end, Mr. Roever is the founder of two nonprofit organizations. In addition, in 2007, with his wife, Brenda, he co-founded Eagles Summit Ranch in Colorado, which focuses on helping wounded veterans from the war on terrorism, both spiritually and by teaching business and life skills.

"It's a beautiful facility up in the mountains," he said. "We're teaching them how to start a business or a (nonprofit venture) ... and help(ing) them with the emotional part of recovery."

To hear Mr. Roever speak -- and many in the audience had been to a number of his talks through the years -- is to follow a winding path of emotionally wrenching but seemingly unrelated stories. Eventually, the listener finds that the stories interlock to focus on the theme of resiliency.

The stories he shared included a time in Iraq when he was asked to say a prayer for a fallen Soldier, asking specifically for God to send someone to comfort the Soldier's best friend.

A few days later, in the middle of the night at an empty Atlanta airport terminal, a young man sat down next to him, even though there were hundreds of empty seats nearby.

Mr. Roever eventually learned that the man was the best friend of the fallen Soldier, an event Mr. Roever said was divinely inspired.

The young man, who was returning from his friend's funeral, could not understand how Mr. Roever knew so much about the situation.

"He asked, 'Who are you?'" Mr. Roever recalled. "And I told him, 'I'm the answer to my own prayer.'"

Mr. Roever also shared another Iraq story where he was led into the hospital room of a dying Soldier who had third-degree burns over most of his body.

"I couldn't have told you what color he was," Mr. Roever said. "There is no prejudice in a sacrifice that great."

Mr. Roever whispered a few words in the hole where the dying man's ear had been just hours before, and then held him as he took his last breath.

"I told him that this wasn't a gurney, it was an altar," he recounted. "And that he wasn't just a Soldier; he was a sacrifice.

"I prayed to God that if all the pain I've been through, and it was incredible pain I assure you, allowed me to be there in that moment for that young Soldier, then God bring it on," he said.

Mr. Roever urged the audience to ensure their marriages were strong and to communicate regularly with their loved ones back home.

He also praised his wife of 43 years, for standing by him and caring for him after his horrendous injuries.

"Our marriage (endures) because it is built on desire, not need," he said. "We don't need each other; we want each other. It is a choice."