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To Most, Paddling Every Day Through Grueling Winds And Waves Over The Course Of Four Months, 3,500 Miles From Texas To New York, Sounds Like A Death Wish. To Josh Collins, It Sounds Like A New Beginning.

Josh is a Special Operations combat Veteran with multiple rotations to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia, along with numerous other deployments around the globe in support of the War on Terror. Moreover, Josh is a wounded warrior with seven documented traumatic brain injuries (TBI) with loss of consciousness—four from explosive blasts, two by parachute landing falls, and one more from combative training.

After he retired in December of 2008, Josh continued to support the military as a contractor both stateside and abroad. It was during an elite Special Operations training exercise in 2013 that he sustained another major concussion, complete with fractured nose, ribs, and cervical spine compression, putting him over the edge.

“I couldn’t function through the day without extreme headaches, fatigue, and disorientation. I never had problems psychologically until I had problems with my head from the TBI’s. It’s like this: If a record is skipping, it could be that it is scratched (PTSD), or that the record player itself has a broken/cracked needle (TBI).

The combination of TBI and PTSD exacerbates both issues. The VA has a much easier time diagnosing PTSD because the environment and horrors of combat are undeniable, but unlike TBI, they can medicate and call it a day. This is why I began to ‘self-medicate’ heavily with alcohol until I was up to well beyond a bottle of hard liquor a day.”

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