Army Soldiers Share Life Stories with Airmen

Barksdale Air Force -  Resiliency... the ability to rebound; elasticity.  

For nearly a decade the nonprofit American300 has been introducing unique guests to Service Members on bases around the world.  The mission: Share real life human examples of resiliency in an effort to reinforce the comprehensive resiliency teachings presented by the Department of Defense. 

“Some can read books, study computer based training modules and gather the necessary tools to be more adept in dealing with life’s curveballs,” says Robi Powers, founder of the all volunteer effort, “others have to interact with experts first hand to assimilate and learn.” 

With over 400 bases visited to date, American300 has developed its own comprehensive sense of what makes troops tick.  “The concept is simple: put experienced individuals with troops and allow for meaningful exchanges to take place,” says Jesse Stewart, a wounded US Army Ranger who will be visiting Barksdale’s 2nd Bomb Wing Airmen this week, “My story is different from Jen and Shannon’s and that’s what makes the concept of putting real faces on resiliency so effective, there’s multiple real world, real life examples to learn from.” he added. 

Joining Stewart will be Chief Warrant Officer Jennifer Housholder and Shannon Ritch.  

Each has a unique life story, rich in resilient behavior. “Jesse ( Stewart ) got blown up several times, that’s not my story at all,” says Housholder, who after two deployments to the middle east found herself face to face with severe post traumatic stress, “As a DoD certified ‘Master Resiliency Trainer’ I can say with certainty that American300’s approach and Major Command’s that take advantage of it are helping to bridge the gap in understanding.” she added. 

With guests ranging from Tom Whittaker, the first amputee to summit Mount Everest to Major General Edward Mechenbier, a USAF fighter pilot that spent nearly 6 of his 44 plus years of duty in P.O.W. camps in Vietnam, there’s never a shortage of unique and valued guests. Currently the nonprofit has over 100 mentor volunteers. 

For the third guest traveling to Barksdale, Shannon Ritch, bouncing back took on a whole new meaning when he was medically discharged from the Army.  Instead of quitting, Ritch went on to become a mixed martial arts world champion.  On top of that he continued to serve his country as a protective security duty specialist for the likes of Donald Rumsfeld and other top officials in Baghdad, Iraq for several years. 

“We’re in our 5th year of programming with Air Force Global Strike Command and Barksdale Air Force Base’s 2nd Bomb Wing,” says Powers, adding “ it’s been a fantastic opportunity for Airmen to meet amazing guests who come to share their personal stories of flexibility, adaptability and most importantly the ability to bounce back and grow stronger.” 

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American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit effort.  No federal endorsement of nonprofit is implied or intended - 

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