A Book and a Promise

’From Service to Success’ helps Veterans move past the pain and trauma of service
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Bob Taylor speaks into a microphone in his office as a guest on a podcast in June, 2023. Photo by Bryan Esler.

If you’ve been in a major city any time over the past couple of decades, there’s a very good chance you’ve seen someone holding a sign that reads: Homeless Veteran. You may have wondered to yourself what could have happened to this person – presumably once young and fit – to have landed them in such a terrible situation. At one point he or she must have had the wherewithal to rise at the crack of dawn, engage in rigorous calisthenics, probably run miles at a time, march in time, handle weapons, climb ropes, rappel, etc. And that was just boot camp!  

Chances are these individuals are suffering from some symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. A new book written by Grand Rapids businessman and Air Force Veteran Bob Taylor explores the reasons behind PTSD and, perhaps more importantly, serves as a resource guide for veterans who are having difficulty transitioning to civilian life.

‘From Service to Success’ is written by Bob Taylor.

The reasons for PTSD are numerous and include everything from having been an eyewitness to the horrific brutality of war to survivor’s guilt after a “brother” perished, or simply feeling a lack of purpose and loss of status after having been a member of a group on an important mission. 

In his book, “From Service to Success: New Mission, New Purpose and a New Journey to a Great Life,” Taylor writes: 

“The returning soldier is no longer part of a group bound together by a clear sense of purpose, familiar rituals, and shared experiences. Relationships forged under fire cannot easily be recreated in the modern world or even understood by anyone who has not been in combat. This is especially pronounced in the modern era of warfare, when such a tiny percentage of the population is actively engaged in America’s conflicts.”

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, statistics on veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom show that as many as 29% will have PTSD at some point in their lives. “From Service to Success,” states that nearly half of the veterans leaving the military report some level of PTSD symptoms, and that only a portion of them realize they have issues. Even fewer decide to seek help from the VA. A shocking 22 per day commit suicide. As many as 640 veterans per day attempt suicide, and every day 5,500 veterans consider it. Over the past ten years, more than 60,000 veterans have taken their own lives.

With these heart wrenching statistics in mind, it’s somewhat of a relief that Taylor is doing his part to shed light on the issue. CEO and founder of a trio of healthcare product companies, Taylor has created the Patriot Promise Foundation, a non-profit venture run entirely by veterans, offering them the ability to learn new skills in the workplace while also learning to enhance their lives. His new book serves as the cornerstone of the foundation, with a multifaceted set of lessons aimed at helping vets find a new mission and lead a purpose-filled life after serving in the military. 

“They fear the anger they struggle to control,” Taylor writes. “Without knowing it, these isolated and disconnected veterans are already part of a tribe, a community filled with veterans with similar experiences.”

Throughout the text, Taylor reaches deep inside himself to share his own battle with PTSD. More than a “how-to” manual, as the title may suggest, the book also contains firsthand accounts by a number of other veterans who provide details of their PTSD manifestations and relay stories of their paths to recovery. Taylor maintains that focusing on gratitude is one of the main ways to start to overcome PTSD. Self-forgiveness, creativity and learning to focus on others helps the process. 

One of the greatest challenges Taylor faced in his own life came as he was transitioning from an Air Force career he loved to becoming a family man. About six months after he left the service, Taylor began to have horrific, violent nightmares. The kind that keep you up at night. The kind that turn you into an irritable insomniac. 

“The dreams were vivid, violent, and raw, as if they were happening,” Taylor said. “I was just terrified.” 

 An excerpt from the book states: 

“The nightmares started out of nowhere about six months after I returned home. They weren’t Friday the 13th type of nightmares. They were very real, very detailed, and in living color. Intense violence filled these dreams. Though I was in the Air Force, my nightmares included hand-to-hand combat where I would end up killing someone in an extremely gory way. Sometimes I would get shot in the head while I was hiding behind a barrier. I could feel the blood running down my face. But, I also experienced what our enemies might have known when we flew over, seeing our bombs exploding and a nuclear bomb detonating nearby. My reactions while asleep would frighten my wife, whether physical or vocal.
It was a scary time.”

Taylor had flown eleven combat missions during Operation Desert Storm (Aug. 2, 1990 – Feb. 28, 1991) as a flight navigator. U.S. President George H.W. Bush declared a cease-fire after 42 days of relentless attacks. The war may have lasted only 42 days, but Taylor dealt with the impact for more than 30 years. And he experienced the gaps in veteran care firsthand. 

“There are organizations that help Wounded Warriors, help with education, and they do wonderful work,” said Taylor. “But I haven’t found a program that treats the whole person, puts them on the right path,” he said. Another excerpt from his book states:

“…my greatest regret is that I did not seek help sooner. I waited for the same reasons most veterans delay…I tried to fix things myself. I thought I had everything handled. Admitting that you have mental struggles can be embarrassing. So, I decided to write about that aspect of my life to point out that it’s ok to share. You’re not alone. A light shines at the end of the tunnel. Some amazing people have dedicated their lives to helping veterans.” 

Realizing that there were gaps that needed to be filled in helping veterans make the transition to civilian life, Taylor hired a book architect and started his foundation. After six years of research and writing, the book came together and was released in May 2023.  

In the interim, Taylor has found other ways of coping with his PTSD. Earlier this year, Taylor took part in an experimental research trial in Chicago at a facility that uses psychedelic substances in conjunction with tones and music to treat PTSD. And the results were remarkable. To prepare for the trial, he was instructed to stop taking his SSRI prescription. “I still had depression and irritability on SSRIs. After treatment all of my depression and anxieties were washed away,” Taylor said. “I’m excited about the possibilities.” 

Bob Taylor is the CEO, founder, and owner of Alliant Healthcare Products, Alliant Biotech, and Medisurge – the Alliant Family of Companies located at 2140 Oak Industrial Dr. NE in Grand Rapids, MI. Since 2002, his verified Service-Disabled Veteran- Owned Small Business has sold over $750 million in healthcare products to the VA and military hospitals all over the world.Learn more about Patriot Promise Foundation at patriotpromise.org.

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