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Sgt. Grills wants you to 'rebuild America'

Former infantryman seeks help for book launch

Jun. 22, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Grills (Courtesy)
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Chad Grills (Courtesy)
Former Sgt. Chad Grills launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his book. (Courtesy of Chad Grills)

In his own words

A sample of Chad Grills’ writing, in which he contrasts the “official” advice with his own thoughts. From his Kickstarter pitch:

Government reintegration training for veterans goes a bit like this:

■PTSD is a disorder where something is wrong with you.

■If you have any anger (about anything), there is something wrong with you.

■If you’re depressed, go to the VA.

■Here are some government-approved resources that will help you …

Let me quickly correct those points:

■No! PTSD is just a natural result from the experiences you’ve had!

■The anger veterans experience comes directly from all the challenges we’re not supposed to speak about, or horrible treatment when we attempt to use our benefits, or from any interactions with the VA.

■The VA is the most depressing place I’ve ever been!

■Have fun reading those, just pretend critical thinking and the Internet don’t exist.

A former sergeant and Iraq veteran is calling on all veterans to help rebuild America, and he hopes to make his case in a new book.

Chad Grills, 29, said his vision for “Veterans: Don’t Reintegrate, Rebuild America” was born mainly out of frustration.

“Regardless of your political orientation or affiliation, we’re kind of in trouble as a country right now,” Grills said. “The book is a challenge and a call to action for the only people right now that can really rebuild the country, and that’s veterans. They’re the ones who originally stepped up ... to make the country better.”

To get his book off the ground, Grills is seeking your help. He launched a Kickstarter campaign, which expires July 11, to raise $10,000. So far he has raised $500.

Grills, who eventually wants to launch his own business, said he envisions veterans playing a “key role” in rebuilding America.

“Research shows individuals who have been through difficult situations can turn their experiences into post-traumatic growth,” Grills said.

Most of the money will be used to pay for an editor. He hopes to have it published in November.

In his book, Grills will address issues such as suicide prevention and depression, veteran unemployment, substance abuse, and relationships strained by deployments.

“When we got home from Iraq, it was a challenge for me because I saw so many good intentions, but on so many levels, it completely missed the point,” he said. “One of the hardest things for me was the lack of meaningful suicide prevention training.”

Grills, who deployed to Iraq in 2007 and then to Egypt in 2011, said his frustration grew when one of the soldiers in his platoon committed suicide.

“I was beside myself,” he said. “As an enlisted guy I couldn’t speak up, but at the same time I saw so much opportunity to give guys better information and break down the stigma associated with talking about depression.”

Grills served as an infantryman in the Maryland National Guard and said his book will offer insight into his own struggle with depression.

“Right after Iraq was a very challenging time for me,” he said. “I was mainly so frustrated that there were so many things I saw that I wanted to help out with or contribute to, but I didn’t see a path where I could impact or change anything.”

Grills said he struggled for a while and decided to go down a “traditional” route of going to college, graduating with a finance degree and securing a job.

“I just don’t want a lot of our vets to spend so much time looking for answers,” he said. “There are so many opportunities out there.”

These days, Grills said he’s learning how to be an entrepreneur in the technology arena. He has launched a number of education-related apps, including “Majors,” which helps college students pick a major by showing them what that career field can do in terms of job growth, placement rates and salary.

Another opportunity Grills said he’s working on is a partnership with Mike Rowe, host of Discovery Channels’ “Dirty Jobs,” to champion scholarships that allow veterans to train for trade jobs.

Grills said he hopes to speak to his fellow veterans, men and women who have shared similar experiences.

“I want so badly for the veterans out there who are hurting or confused to realize that adversity is the cornerstone of all great achievers,” Grills said. “Nothing’s wrong with them. It’s just a natural reaction to the experiences they’ve had.”

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