Wounded Veteran Shares Stories Of Resilience
(October 4, 2010)
BASRA, Iraq – When Dave Roever was in the Navy during the Vietnam War,
‘resiliency' and ‘comprehensive soldier fitness' took a backseat to combat
operations. In the summer of 1969, there was little in the way of stress
clinics, resiliency centers or mental health treatment for soldiers.|
So when a white phosphorus grenade left Roever with severe burns and a slim
chance to live, he found himself relying on his family, his faith and his
friends to get him through the hardships of recovery.
“The fact is we have the right ingredients to sustain us in times of great
difficulty,” said Roever, a Fort Worth, Texas, native. “If we're not
resilient, we lose.”
He is 63-years-old, has been married for over 40 years, and still
participates in speaking engagements around the world, providing support for
service members through his story and donations to charity. As he says in
his speeches, “I'm not over the hill. I am the hill.”
Dave Roever and his son Matthew began a tour of United States Division–South
with a presentation at the USD-S Resiliency
Dave Roever, a Vietnam veteran who has been a public speaker for over 30 years, speaks to a crowd at the United States Division-South Resiliency Campus, Sept. 29,
2010. Roever's story has several examples of how Comprehensive Soldier Fitness can help soldiers through difficult periods and onto success later in life.
Campus Sept. 29, followed by a prayer breakfast and a visit to the RIVRON
Navy river patrol unit, Sept. 30.The visit is not the first time he's
visited the 1st Infantry Division, having spoken at Fort Riley and to
deployed 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Inf. Div. troops in southern
Baghdad in 2007.
His speeches incorporate the Five Pillars of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, a
new program by the military to ensure readiness by improving soldiers' abilities
to react to hardship. The Five Pillars represent how physical fitness, emotional
balance, family ties, spiritual dedication and social interaction sustain troops
through combat and personal turmoil.|
Roever said resiliency plays an important part in the drawdown of forces in Iraq
by letting soldiers return home with fewer issues than service members who
didn't have the tools of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.
“It's really important for these [soldiers] that are here and may be pulling out
soon that they understand you got to bounce back,” Roever said. “You cannot
carry that burden all of your life. Leave it here. Don't take it home with you.”
“I can't imagine having a better speaker come to speak about resiliency and
wellness other than Dave Roever,” said Maj. Gary Fisher, the 1st Inf. Div.
deputy chaplain and an Abilene, Kan. “He's just fantastic.”
“He can relate, he's authentic,” said Spc. Jared Cooper, a chaplain's assistant
with the 1st Inf. Div. “Unlike a mental health counselor, they may not have the
authenticism like he has; they may not have been through some of the stuff he
has. So I know a lot of people like someone who can be down at their level.”
Roever ended his tour of Basra with a visit to the Navy river patrol unit, the
RIVRON, at the Basra chapel. The RIVRON unit is the closest unit to the “Brown
Water Black Berets” Roever served with in Vietnam.
Lt. Jeffrey Bensen, the chaplain for RIVRON Team One, said Roever's speech helps
sailors in his unit get a look into the past as well as advice on the resiliency
challenges of the future.
Roever said even though he works hard, he enjoys speaking with the soldiers and
being told children he spoke with decades ago remember him as they serve in the
“To see them now, serving their country and for them to see me still going, the
reality is in its lasting permanence,” Roever said. “I can say, ‘I'll be there
when you need me.'
Well, we are here, and they do need people like us, doing what we're doing, and
its fun to see the look in their eyes when they say, ‘Man, that was 35 years
Article and photo by Army Sgt. Cody Harding
1st Infantry Division Headquarters
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