‘A War­rior’s Faith’ shares in­spi­ra­tional story about wounded vet­eran

Do you be­lieve in co­in­ci­dences?

The Southern Berks News - - FEATURES - By Jeff Hall Colum­nist

“A War­rior’s Faith” by Robert Vera (whom I will re­fer to as Vera), is the 30th book re­view I’ve writ­ten for this col­umn. I would rank this book as num­ber three of all of them. The other two were clas­sics and had films made after them! Yes, as the ti­tle in­di­cates, the book is about war – the Iraqi war. How­ever, more im­por­tantly, it is about Ryan Job and his quest for ex­cel­lence in life even when faced with tremen­dous ob­sta­cles. Many times Vera talks about the co­in­ci­dence of Ryan’s last name when he com­pares Ryan’s life to that of Job in the Bi­ble: “The Lord blessed the lat­ter days of Job more than his be­gin­ning” (page 133, Job 42:12).

Be­fore I start, I would like to ask you if you be­lieve in co­in­ci­dences. WAIT - DON’T TELL ME UN­TIL YOU GET TO THE END OF THIS COL­UMN!

The for­ward of the book opens with Ryan, a Navy SEAL, scal­ing the 14,411 foot Mt. Rainier in Wash­ing­ton State as part of Camp Pa­triot’s God-cen­tered non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion’s pro­grams for wounded veterans. Ryan no­tices the per­son next to him is strug­gling and asks the per­son (Vera, who is not a SEAL) how he is do­ing. Thus, a friend­ship started be­tween Ryan and the au­thor. Be­cause Ryan was among the first to reach the peak, his fol­low­ers did not know un­til he started down the moun­tain that his face was se­verely dam­aged and he was to­tally blind.

FLASH­BACK – The highly mo­ti­vated Ryan knew what he wanted to do early in life. He dropped out of col­lege after his ju­nior year for fear he would be too old to be ac­cepted at the Navy SEAL School. Ryan ended up on the same SEAL Team T3 as Chris Kyle, also known as the Amer­i­can Sniper.

By 2006, SEAL Team 3 was in Ra­madi, Iraq, at the time the most dan­ger­ous city in the world. Twenty-eight per­cent of Amer­i­can forces losses oc­curred in Ra­madi. Ryan had an Iraqi trainee man his ma­chine gun while he went to move some other trainees. The trainee on the gun was im­me­di­ately shot and killed by en­emy forces (Co­in­ci­dence?).

Shortly there­after, SEAL Team 3 was am­bushed in an al­ley. Ryan came out from cover to shoot while the rest of the team ma­neu­vered to evac­u­ate. Nearly all on the Team was wounded. Not Ryan, even though he could see the bul­lets hit­ting around him and right next to his head, into a wall (Co­in­ci­dence?). Ryan re­ceived a Bronze Star for his valor.

The next ac­tion de­scribed was when Ryan and mem­bers of the Team were on the rooftop of a four story build­ing in Ra­madi to pro­vide cover for ground troops clear­ing build­ings. An in­sur­gent shooter, hid­den by the glare of the sun shot Ryan through his gun sight, pierc­ing through sun­glasses through his right eye and blow­ing away half of his head. He did not die (Co­in­ci­dence?). In­stead, he re­fused to be car­ried down the flights of stairs so oth­ers would be able to re­turn fire. Ryan was the first SEAL se­verely wounded in Iraq.

Ryan was re­turned to Bethesda Naval Med­i­cal Cen­ter with his right eye gone, per­ma­nently blind in his left eye, no taste or smell. Be­fore de­ploy­ing to Iraq, Ryan had met Amy (as men­tioned in the book, I knew her as Kelly) in a restau­rant in San Diego (Co­in­ci­dence?). She was a trav­el­ling nurse (Co­in­ci­dence?) from the East Coast. They quickly be­came good friends. When she heard of Ryan’s in­juries, she came to Bethesda and man­aged his med­i­cal care. One year after be­ing shot, they were mar­ried. Upon be­ing dis­charged from Bethesda, the cou­ple moved to Scotts­dale, AZ, where a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion pro­vided them an apart­ment rent-free and Amy en­tered and grad­u­ated from a nurs­ing anes­the­si­ol­ogy pro­gram. Ryan trained for an Iron­man Triathlon, re­ceived a guide dog, lis­tened to Seat­tle Sea­hawks foot­ball games and gave a per­for­mance re­view after the games to one of their coaches, rep­re­sented wounded veterans, spoke to busi­ness lead­ers, was a full­time student while work­ing part-time and went elk hunt­ing in Idaho, etc. “He made up his mind that he would be the best blind per­son in the world, and then pur­sued that goal re­lent­lessly in ev­ery­thing he did.”

Ryan sub­mit­ted his last as­sign­ment for his se­nior year in col­lege (he would have grad­u­ated with a 4.0 av­er­age) just be­fore, at the age 28, he went to be with his Lord and Sav­ior in 2009. Be­cause of the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing his death, Vera was able to as­sist Amy and their first child, a daugh­ter, who was born sev­eral months after Ryan died, with Amy’s fi­nances. NOW, you can an­swer the ques­tion about co­in­ci­dence or not. I like Ein­stein’s say­ing, “A co­in­ci­dence is God’s way of work­ing anony­mously.”

Please note: After read­ing this book twice and tak­ing co­pi­ous notes, I feel com­pletely in­ad­e­quate in ex­press­ing Ryan’s faith, love, en­cour­age­ment, and zest for life! There­fore, I strongly en­cour­age you to read the book.

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