On this Veterans Day, retired Green Beret Staff Sgt. Kevin Flike has much to be grateful for. He has his two daughters, his wife Kim, and a career with Goldman-Sachs. But the journey here was an arduous one.
Flike was shot during his second deployment to Afghanistan in 2011.
“The pain was just so intense that I was just trying to stay conscious. My last recollection of being in Afghanistan was in a surgery tent," he said. "Having my uniform cut off and asking for my last rites because I thought I was going to die.”
His next memory was four days later in Germany. “I asked someone if I’d gone to heaven or hell.” Doctors had to remove 20-percent of his colon, he had a fractured hip and his left leg was paralyzed. He ended up having six surgeries that left him with 40 inches of scars.
After thousands of hours of physical therapy, he was finally able to walk again but then faced his next challenge. “I had some problems with substance abuse, with drinking," he said. "I had a very difficult time getting off my pain medicine.”
Flike says with the help of his wife, he refocused and ended up simultaneously getting dual Master's degrees from MIT and Harvard. He says “between special forces training, deployments, and getting shot, I never wanted to quit something more than that first year of business school.”
Goal-setting, hard work, and endless studying kept him focused and on track. Flike is now not only a highly-decorated veteran but one who also holds advanced degrees.
And it all started when a single bullet left him wounded but determined. He said, “To tell people how difficult the journey has been but you can get to this point; that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel that burns greater than you can imagine.”