Our Duty to Strive

Abraham Lincoln was no stranger to hardship or learning the value of sticking things out, even when the situation around him looked impossible.

His mom died before his tenth birthday. His family lost their home. He failed twice in business. He couldn’t get into law school. After his fiancé died, he had a nervous breakdown and was bedridden for six months. And of the ten times he ran for public office, he lost seven of his races.

How he went on to become the President of the United States of America and succeeded at changing the face of our nation is beyond all reason. Somewhere deep inside him, though, was a deep conviction to keep going, to keep trying, to face each day head on, despite adversity and personal loss.

When asked how he persevered through so much hardship, including through the terrible destruction from the Civil War he said, “The sense of obligation to continue is present in all of us. A duty to strive is the duty of us all. I felt a call to that duty.”

When we at Team Never Quit are out and about, whether it is on our TNQ podcast, on the Patriot Tour, we often meet people who have that sense of obligation, that call to duty.

Ryan was raised by a single mother. He never knew his father but he didn’t let that dictate how his life was supposed to play out. In school, he was diagnosed with an emotional disability, which was later changed to a learning disability, and he was placed in Special Education. It was not until 7th grade that he realized how special education made him feel different from everyone else. He was often told by other students and teachers that he was “stupid” and would “never achieve greatness.” One teacher even went so far as to tell him he would end up being a burger flipper or in prison. School never came easy for Ryan, but somehow he managed to graduate with a 2.0 GPA.

From there, Ryan joined the WI Army National Guard in April 2006, just two months before he graduated from high school.

He said, “I enlisted as an Infantryman. My recruiter was hot and offered me $20,000 to enlist, which was a good tactic on his part! I left for Fort Benning, GA, in August 2006. My three-month journey at Fort Benning and my time on Sand Hill forged me into something that I cannot explain. The knowledge that was passed on to me I will never forget. I did not realize how hard Infantry School really was. I had no damn clue what I was signing up for, but I made it through and graduated on time and went home to my unit.

I was assigned to A.Co 2-128th INF Reconnaissance and Surveillance. That unit was the best thing that ever happened to me up to that point in my life. The type of training and knowledge that I gathered was everything that I wanted since I was a little boy playing “army” with my friends. I was also enrolled into college for Welding. I had an obsession with learning to be a great welder and building things.

In the spring of 2008, we got a Warning Order about a deployment to Iraq. I was reassigned to A. Co. 132nd BSB. The MTOE changed and people throughout the brigade were being moved around, and I got moved. I finished my schooling and got my two associates degrees in Welding. I also got married before my deployment (typical stuff a private does).

I arrived in Iraq in May of 2009. My mission was prison guard duty and facility engineer team. The most dangerous and scariest moment was working with the extreme jihads that I guarded. I worked with the most dangerous terrorists this planet has produced. Camp Bucca was filled with these jihads’s that wanted nothing more than to chop my head off.
I finished my deployment in January 2010 and came home to a wife that didn’t know me and who I didn’t know how to help understand me. Within six months of my returning home, she filed for divorce.

I was lost, and for a while I was homeless. But I didn’t quit. I am currently in Graduate School for my Masters in Social Work focusing on Veteran Transitioning and am proud to say after my first semester, I have a 4.0 GPA.”

Like Ryan, the sense of obligation to continue, that call of duty to strive despite the difficult circumstances in our lives, is what Team Never Quit is all about. We celebrate Ryan and the men and women just like him, in every day walks of life, who answer that call of duty to never quit.