Trauma to Triumph

J.R. Martinez went from watching his hands melt in a burning humvee, to delivering messages of healing to burn victims.

You've probably heard of J.R. Martinez.  Maybe you saw him win the 2011 season of ABC's Dancing With the Stars. Or maybe you've seen him on TV shows like All My Children and

General Hospital. Or maybe you've read his new book, Full of Heart. But above all of that, you've probably seen him on one of the countless news channels that covered his personal story.  

In February of 2003, while serving in the Iraq War, Martinez was driving a humvee during a routine mission when it hit an IED. After the initial explosion, he was trapped in the vehicle where he recounts seeing the skin on his hands melting in the blazing fire.  He was rushed to Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany for emergency care then to military's own special unit for research and treatment of burn victims at the San Antonio Military Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.  There he underwent a grueling three-year therapeutic and reconstructive process. 

Today, in addition to his writing and TV show appearances, he travels the country giving motivational speeches, and volunteering his service to burn victims and wounded soldiers. This year he also celebrated the birth of his daughter Lauryn Annabelle. You've probably hear of him, but you probably haven't heard of Gerald Bailey.   

Gerald Bailey (right) pictured with group commander

when he received the purple heart for combat injury. 

Martinez and Bailey were both a part of Fort Campbell's 101st Airborne Division, 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment. The only difference: Martinez was assigned to Delta company, while Bailey was assigned to Charlie company.  Nevertheless, they were brothers in arms.  And in December of 2003, just months after Martinez's horrific accident, Bailey was terribly wounded in battle.  His team was performing a raid on a safe-house in Mosul, Iraq, in search of a known insurgent leader.  Bailey helped his team over the compound wall, then kicked in the door where through his night vision goggles he saw an enemy insurgent armed with an AK-47 assault rifle. 

Bailey was shot and the bullet travelled through the side of his neck and lodged in his right shoulder. He too was life-flighted to Germany where doctors performed emergency surgery. From there, he was taken Walter Reed Army Hospital in D.C. where he would undergo numerous subsequent surgeries. 

Today, he has retired after twenty years of service, but he stays close by Fort Campbell where he assists soldiers who were injured in battle, and those who suffer from PTSD associated with war through a support group called Wounded Warriors. He and his wife Bernadette have four children of their own, but they also serve as surrogate parents to numerous at-risk children through foster parenting.

Keyon Dooling recently shocked the basketball world when

he abrutly ended his NBA career, citing he needed healing.

You've also probably heard of Keyon Dooling.  He's not the most recognizable star, but a familiar face to any NBA fan nonetheless.  He's spent over twelve years on the world's biggest basketball stage, as a utility guard for teams like the Orlando Magic, L.A. Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks, and most recently the Boston Celtics.

Dooling made national news recently when he abruptly retired from the NBA after a nervous breakdown and a short stint in a psychiatric hospital.  He later revealed that he has long suffered with pent-up anxiety from the trauma of childhood sexual abuse. He cited years of masking and helping others without himself being helped that led to his breaking point.  After weeks of treatment, ongoing therapy, medication, and a praying wife, Latosha, Dooling is back in the locker room.  This time not as a player, but as the Boston Celtics' newly appointed Director of Player Development.  

Dooling has long been seen as a big brother in the locker room for younger players. He gives them advice about everything from making it in the league, to finances, to helping them deal with their personal problems. Now he gets to do that full time. He's also spending lots more time speaking out about abuse and trauma on TV shows and at public events.  

After losing both parents and suffering terrible abuse,

Joe Williams has dedicated his life to healing others.

Again, Keyon Dooling is not a superstar, but he's known for being an efficient utility guard.  He reminds me a lot of Joseph Williams. Williams has a pretty sharp basketball skills too.  He's a smooth ball handler and a nifty scorer. He's not an NBA vet like Dooling, but they're both hoopers, and they both suffered childhood abuse.

He was only 2 years old when his mother was murdered by another woman. Right after his mother was killed, his father abandoned him and he was taken in by a lesbian couple. That's where the abuse took place. Then there are stories of running away, foster homes, group homes, detention centers, and even an attempted suicide. In his own words, "It was a mess."

Today he is a certified staff chaplain for Community Hospice Inc. in Modesto, CA. He frequently posts stories of care and healing from his experiences on his webpage. In addition to that he can regularly be found in various pulpits throughout the central California area preaching the word of God.  He is indeed a wounded healer.

From J.R. Martinez, to Gerald Bailey, from Keyon Dooling to Joe Williams, the world is filled with men and women who have suffered great terror and trauma only to experience God's miraculous power of providence, healing, and restoration. Yet, these are not the first nor the last. They serve as reminders of men and women of ancient times who have also suffered extreme test, trial, and trauma. The three Hebrew boys were thrown into a flaming furnace. Daniel was thrown into a lion's den. David had to escape for his life from King Saul. And Mephibosheth was dropped as a baby and paralyzed from the waist down.  There were so many others Joseph, Job, Jeremiah, Paul...the list goes on and on.  

But the most compelling story of all, is that of Jesus Christ. He was falsely accused and arraigned in a kangaroo court. Then he was brutally whipped until the flesh was hanging from his body. He was sentenced to die even though they had not proved him guilty. They forced him to carry a criminal's cross uphill, and there they nailed his hands and feet to the splintering wood and hung him there in presence of the townspeople and passers-by.  He hung his head, died, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. But that's where the story get's really good because on Sunday morning he rose from the dead. And it is his triumph over death that makes our triumph after trauma possible.