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Childhood Trauma Fortifies Young Man for Life in Special Forces

December 01, 2016

“Show me someone who has done something worthwhile, and I’ll show you someone who has overcome adversity.” - Lou Holtz, former American football coach

Lou Holtz could have been talking about C.J.

C.J. was so badly beaten when he was 3 years old, doctors feared he would die. He was taken to Children’s Medical Center, where his life was saved by expert care and skilled doctors. Fast forward many years, and C.J. couldn’t have grown into a stronger person. He is now a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Special Forces.

“I was scared to death,” C.J.’s mother, Lori Doyle, said. “I was afraid he was going to die.”

A boyfriend punched the 3-yearold several times in the stomach, and the boy’s stomach and intestine were crushed and a life-threatening blood clot formed, Ms. Doyle said. The boyfriend was promptly dumped and arrested. The blood clot was slowly dissolved.

Nearly 25 years later, Ms. Doyle, who lives out of state, began making monthly gifts to the hospital that saved her son’s life.

C.J. has a different last name than his mother, and he asked that it not be used because of the sensitivity of some of his work in the military.

He said he can remember very little of the incident and the hospitalization other than being in pain and eating ice chips at the hospital, but he said it may have given him some mental toughness for the military service that came many years later.

C.J. joined the Army in 2008, planning to just serve for a few years. But he loved the military life, and after serving as a military intelligence analyst in Afghanistan, he tried out for the Special Forces.

The Army’s Special Forces is among the U.S. military’s most elite fighters, forged by some of the toughest training in the world. Training can include carrying a heavy ruck sack for 250 miles, long-term exposure to bad weather, submersion in freezing water and extremely rough treatment in a prisoner of war simulation, according to the 2012 book, The Guerrilla Factory; The Making of Special Forces Officers, The Green Berets.

“It’s extremely tough and grueling,” C.J. said. “You have to perform 100 percent on each test. You can’t save your energy to the end.”

He passed and earned the right to wear one of the Army’s most prestigious pieces of headgear, the Green Beret.

C.J. continues to enjoy his work so much that he plans to serve until retirement. Now stationed in Fort Lewis in Washington, C.J. said he sometimes thinks about the care he received at Children’s.

“I look back and think what if that hadn’t happened or hadn’t had that level of care at that young age,” he said.

His mother doesn’t wonder, though. “He’s come so far. I am so proud of him.”

 

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