What up Team Never Quit!
My Name is Jonathan Rice and I am a Coast Guard Helicopter Rescue Swimmer with 22 years of active service and am currently a Instructor at Aviation Technical Training Center Elizabeth City ,NC. I’m writing to share my Team Never Quit moment in hopes that it will give inspiration, awareness, hope and peace to those who hear it.
While stationed at Air Station New Orleans in 2006, I was on of two rescue helicopters sent in behind Hurricane Katrina to access damage and rescue it citizens. In the summer of 2017, while picking my daughters up from pre-school I rolled up on an overturned jeep in the median of the highway that had an infant hanging out of her car seat. This moment flashed me back to a sortie I had where a frantic mother heaved her infant child out the window at me and I caught her in mid air at the last second, Pandora’s box of PTSD was slammed wide open on me and I found myself in the SUCK!. As Alpha males we train to be elite, showing weakness is not an option, you suck it up to finish the mission and move on but, the 5 days and nights of straight flying, past traumatic cases from my carrier, past childhood events, life in general and the 11 years of suppressing all the trauma came to a head. I reach out through the channels for about a year or so, it helped but something was missing, my faith.
During these days I listened to the Team Never Quit Podcasts and would get fired up but, my anxiety and nightmares of hearings the cries of help, while I was on rooftops at night was building and building. Every time I listened to you guys, something stood out, it was Rutherford’s faith. However subtle it may seem, every time he said amen or something to God or Jesus, my heart-rate rose and I would get fired up. I do believe in God but, never practiced religion or embraced my relationship with our heavenly father through all the counseling, and just feeling like I was spiraling the drain, my retired Master Chief said “hey man, I have a retired Seal Master Chief buddy that I go to church with who is recommending a program that his team guys are going to, Operation Restored Warrior, do you have faith? I said I believe in God, at this point what do I have to loose.
So to this point, God was reaching out to me my whole life, I just kept smacking his hand away. I always felt a void inside like, what’s my purpose? What is the next chapter? Well, October of 2019, it stuck, I went to Operation Restored Warrior, which was 5 days in Lake Tahoe and was saved by God. Since being saved my anxiety and nightmares have left and I no longer suffer from my PTSD. Those images of trauma will always be there but I no longer suffer. Before I went, I had to fight for the love of my wife and daughters, now they can’t tell me they love me enough. Since then my faith has revealed my new mission, To bring PTSD awareness to my swimmer brothers and sisters. I am currently working on a Project called The Silver Fin Association. It is through the Coast Guard Aviation Association and our mission statement is to bring PTSD awareness to Coast Guard, offer faith based healing in affiliation with Operation Restored Warrior and other avenues of mental health assistance. Future mission additions would be rehabilitation programs such as the Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation program offered by EXOS to offer additional support to our swimmers who get banged up and have their spines readjusted by the side of boats, cliffs and other random obstacles.
Look guys, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for keeping this puddle jumpers head above water and keeping my fire lit. Team Never Quit is saving lives podcast by podcast, let’s keep the fire hot and saves some lives! HOORAH!