“Lions and Sheep”
The Brian Bill Foundation
By Florida Night Train
It has become quite evident to me there are two kinds of people out there, sheep and lions. Sheep are sheep and we all know what happens if they are left on their own, or worse leading others from their “safe space” mentality to being the prey that they are. In the case of lions, I don’t think I need to describe how badass and critically important they are to the survival of their tribe. These beasts are not to be messed with by forces outside of their tribes. They will shred the enemy mercilessly, at any cost, to protect and preserve. The thing is, like sheep, even lions have their weak days and need to be tended to. Our Special Forces, and military service men and women, are very much the lions that protect us all (their tribe). When they come back home to us, the tribe (we) should surround them with care and tend to their wounds.
The Special Operations Forces community of active duty and veterans has and continues to make significant personal sacrifices above and beyond the call of duty to protect our freedom. Our tribe. These warriors are left with invisible wounds of war—post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, chronic pain—and desperately need our assistance in their recovery. Roughly 22 veterans a day commit suicide nationwide, according to the *Department of Veterans Affairs.
Special Operations Forces play a significant role in U.S. military operations and, in recent years, have been given greater responsibility for planning and conducting worldwide counterterrorism operations. U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) has about 80,000 Active Duty, National Guard, and reserve personnel from all four services and Department of Defense civilians assigned to its headquarters.
The USSOCOM Care Coalition’s mission is to provide Special Operations Warriors, and their families, a model advocacy program in order to enhance their quality of life and increase special operations readiness. The Brian Bill Foundation (https://www.brianbillfoundation.org) is a therapeutic nonprofit that works closely with the Care Coalition and Naval Special Warfare.
The Brian Bill Foundation’s Warrior Healing Program begins with individual four-day therapeutic retreats for Special Operations Forces active duty, veterans and their spouses (who have been deployed since 911) and as a result have mild traumatic brain injuries, combat post-traumatic stress, and chronic pain. Their Warrior Healing Program includes the opportunity to learn about and try cutting-edge therapeutic modalities such as Equine Assisted Learning, Accelerated Resolution Therapy, yoga, meditation, breathing techniques, iRest, and nutrition. The retreats are for eight warriors or six couples focused on a team-centric approach, made up of those who share common backgrounds and experiences. These factors are key to the Warrior Healing Program’s success, as is the fact that participation is confidential.
The Brian Bill Foundation pays for all of the expenses of the program for each participant, including airfare, room, meals, treatment, and therapies. The foundation provides therapeutic support to Special Operations Forces active duty, veterans and their spouses through 5-day, all-inclusive, and fully funded retreats. The Foundation was established to honor the memory of Navy SEAL Brian R. Bill, a member of Naval Special Warfare Development Group, and all of his fellow Special Operations Warriors who have died in service to their nation since the onset of hostilities after 9/11/2001. With Christmas behind us all now being, I believe, one of the most emotional times of the year for many; I cannot think of a better time to write about an organization truly geared toward providing healing and hope for our lions, our warriors.
In speaking with Brian’s dad (Scott Bill), he spoke as only a proud and loving father would. Brian loved motorcycling and was an exceptional man – A Navy SEAL, Special Operations Warrior, loving son and brother. He died fighting to protect our freedom. Brian’s helicopter was blown to pieces in Afghanistan, shot by the enemy’s RPG. All aboard lost their lives. Leading to that, Scott noticed Brian having nightmares, pain, fear, and all sorts of emotional indicators revealing PTSD. That’s when he started the foundation.
General Dave Scott, one of the several reputable board members of the foundation and retired from the military, is the owner of Bad Monkey (www.badmonkeyybor.com) in Ybor/Tampa, Florida. The place is very military and motorcycle oriented/themed. There is a life-sized painting of Brian on the wall before you go up the stairs. Bad Monkey Bar is dedicated to those who serve their country and/or community. You will know you are at the right place when you see 6 full sized 105 mm howitzer shells sitting on the bar with craft beer taps sticking out of them, as well as a full-sized “Flying Tigers” P-40 Warhawk crashing through the wall overhead. I highly recommend you pay a visit and most importantly, pay your respect with gratitude for sacrifices made by our lion warriors.
When all is said and done I can’t help but to reflect. Have I been a lion or a sheep lately? Do I want to be a lion or a sheep? Do I want to retreat into a “safe space”, or do I want to be dangerous to the enemy for the sake of my children’s future? How do I do that? Have I honored our military in some way? Have I paid my respect? Have I said thank you in any way shape or form to them? Well, I am doing part of it right here and right now.
My charge to my one or two readers out there is: What about you? Do you know someone with, or related to someone with, PTSD from special forces? Let them know they can live life fully and that there is help. The thing that got my attention, in part, about the foundation is the possibility for a couples retreat. Although it is only for military special forces, I can definitely see this type of retreat being massively beneficial for civilian couples as well—to help them see their problems are minuscule compared to the problems of others! I would love to observe the interaction between a Special Ops couple and a civilian couple sharing their testimonials with each other. I bet the civilians would leave quite humbled!
On this note I want to wish every single one of you a year 2023 with health; peace; lower gas prices; lower inflation; secured borders; honored, appreciated, and healing veterans; as well as a resolved, renewed sense of national unity and of individual worth. Your reading my words means the world to me. I do hope some of these words help in some small way to inspire a few good lions, and a few good sheep to become lions.
Photos: Brian Bill Foundation