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I am proud to author my first blog as the new Director of the Military Service Initiative for the George W. Bush Presidential Center. The last week of my life is one that I will surely never forget. I just retired from 26 years of active-duty service in the United States Army and recently departed West Point where I served as the Deputy of Admissions for the last four years. I wasn’t looking to “retire”, but when the possibility of working with the Bush Center on our Nation’s critical veteran’s issues I couldn’t pass it up!
On my final day on the east coast, April 22, I attended the “Go the Distance Walk” at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Westchester, New York, an annual event where the families of children who were patients there celebrate life and good health. I attend this event every year with my godson Michael who has Down’s syndrome. He is my good luck charm and always puts a spring in my step. Thus, he was the best person to spend my career transitional time with before heading out to my new mission. Feeling inspired from the event in New York, I drove straight across this great land of ours in two days in my wife’s purple Sebring convertible complete with “Hooah, it’s an Army thing” license plate to Amarillo, Texas where President Bush held his annual Warrior 100K mountain bike ride with our wounded veterans. This year’s ride was in the Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in our country behind the Grand Canyon. It’s an incredibly beautiful venue and the trails were remarkable as reported by all of the 20 warriors, the President and numerous other riders. The event spanned over three days, with each day of riding concluding with dinner and testimonials from the Warriors - or as President Bush referred to them, “educational evenings”. The final evening concluded with a special visit from the Randy Rogers Band. Perhaps the most enjoyable and heart-warming aspect of the weekend for me as a life-long soldier and leader was the very informal, genuine, relaxed, and often comedic interactions with our former Commander-in-Chief and his beloved warriors who served under his command. They spent a great deal of time together, as did the families of the warriors. Mrs. Bush joined all of us on the final evening and even fit in a dance with Major Dan Gade while the President danced with Melissa Stockwell, former Army First Lieutenant. The entire W100 event was inspirational and life-changing for so many and I found it to be emotionally powerful personally. Our next rehabilitative sport-related focus is a golf event with President Bush and other wounded warriors, the second annual Warrior Open is scheduled to take place this fall at Los Colinas Country Club in Dallas, Texas. In the meantime, we are doing a great deal of strategic engagement and planning across the military-focused support sectors: non-profit, private, corporate and government. Thus starts my new life with the George W. Bush Presidential Center under the inspired and visionary leadership of President and Mrs. Bush. They are the real deal. While I will miss my Army family, I am thrilled to join this new one where I am surrounded by truly brilliant and motivated people simply trying to make the world a better place. Stay tuned as the Military Service Initiative is on the move - if you want to be part of the solution, and want to support our well-deserving veterans, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get after it! And to all my comrades-in-arms I bid you all a fond “Hooah”, “Anchors Away”, “Aim High”, “Semper Fi” and “Semper Paratus”! Best regards to all of you great warriors and your families. This post was written by Colonel Michael T. Endres, US Army, Retired; Director of the Military Service Initiative, George W. Bush Institute
The 2017 Warrior Open in Photos
The 2017 Warrior Open reunited past Team 43 members for a weekend of golf and camaraderie. Most importantly, they told the stories of their journeys since returning home.
Invisible Wounds: Hearing from a Father Who Lost His Son to an Invisible Injury
This week, the Bush Center will host its 6th annual W100K, a 100-kilometer mountain bike ride for seriously wounded or injured post-9/11 veterans and military personnel. This event spotlights the effectiveness of sport in helping our service men and women recover from their visible and invisible wounds. Today, we hear from Major General Mark Graham, U.S. Army (Retired), who serves as Senior Director of Rutgers University's Behavioral Health Care National Call Center, about losing one son to a visible injury and another son to an invisible injury. My wife Carol and I discovered the power of connection after the tragic deaths of both of our sons. Just eight months before our oldest son Jeffrey was killed in Iraq by an IED, we lost our younger son Kevin to suicide. We knew our son, Kevin was sad, we just didn’t know he could die from being too sad. Our sons died fighting different battles. On June 21, 2003 we lost our son K
Highlights from the 2016 W100K from Crawford, Texas
President George W. Bush hosted the 6th Annual W100K, a three-day, 100 kilometer mountain bike ride with servicemen and women injured in since 9/11, September 29 - October 1.