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Brendan Quisenberry is like many members of the United States Armed Forces because he is one of multiple generations in his family to have served America. Both his grandfather and father devoted portions of their lives to defending freedom in different parts of the world. It may appear that the Michigan native knew he would be following in his footsteps, but he was inspired by something else.
“It was Rambo, First Blood for me,” said Quisenberry. “I was seven or eight years old back then, but I had that whole natural inclination of loving that military lifestyle.”
Quisenberry described himself as a naturally active, athletic, and competitive kid. He played sports such as football, track, and took part in powerlifting meets, but there was no doubt he was going to be a part of the military. He was proud to say he felt no peer pressure from his family.
“It was just that sense of wanting to serve.”
Even though he had a good feeling about what he wanted to do, the September 11th attacks cemented the goal in his mind. After graduation, he joined the United States Army and would find himself in the 82nd Airborne Division. Even as athletic as he was, training and fitness in the military took on a new meaning.
“You have to be very diversified,” he shared. “You can’t be just a big guy throwing weight around or an insane runner. You have to have balance and be able to throw a ruck sack on and walk 12 miles consistently.”
Quisenberry found that once he shifted his focus on training, he was a more well-balanced athlete. Later in his career, Quisenberry was a part of the 101st Airborne Division, and he would end his career by reaching his goal of joining the Special Forces and becoming a Green Beret. In total, he served his country for two decades and was very involved in the Global War on Terror. While he prospered with physical fitness, he admitted that he didn’t address mental fitness with the same enthusiasm until much later, and that became a much bigger problem later in his life.
“It created a lot of problems for me and my family because I thought I could handle it on my own. I would also address it with the bottle and suppress my emotions. That was the old-school mentality.”
Quisenberry almost made a permanent choice to address his problems, but his wife managed to stop him. They then spoke about what he was going through and took steps to address those issues. He hopes others will not make that same mistake of ignoring their mental health because no one is exempt from the struggles, but anyone that needs help can get it. He hopes that sharing his story not only helps veterans seek help but younger members of the service address those issues early so they can have a healthier future.
“More often than not, it catches up with everyone. When veterans leave service, there is a culture shock that comes with civilian life. It’s very different than when you’re in the military. Over time, it really did help to get those mental tune ups.”
Quisenberry is a father himself. He hopes to pass the lessons he learned on down to his three children so they can avoid making the same mistakes he made. When asked about a possible fourth generation of service, he said he intends to follow the same philosophy with his children that he received from his father; no pressure, but if they want to serve themselves, he would be supportive.
“I will leave it up to them.”
Quisenberry is now involved with another career as the Executive Director of the Transcend Foundation. He described his job as the mission of the Foundation as addressing the “invisible ones,” meaning issues such as Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), and others. He emphasized that he left the D out of that abbreviation on purpose.
“There’s a lot more hope saying PTS or PTSI, meaning injury, than disorder.”
Aside from standing up against those barriers, the Transcend Foundation also addresses hormone imbalances. Quisenberry reported that this is an issue that is very common among those in the military, but it’s not being identified. They not only work to identify them but provide the care needed to make a difference.
“What we do at the Foundation is a very comprehensive blood panel to identify what is going on with you. When we see those places you may be sub-optimal at, We then can address it and fix it so they are optimal.”
While the Transcend Foundation are doing their part, they hope others can step up to the plate as well. Quisenberry shared that there are around 43,000 nonprofit organizations that support servicemembers. Many of them are reactive, but he feels there needs to be more proactive action taken.
“That’s what makes the Transcend Foundation different,” he said proudly. “We’re working to change the system.”
Aside from his work with the Transcend Foundation, Quisenberry is involved with another project, the 7X Human Performance Project, which is a research initiative to help reduce veteran suicides. As a part of this project, Quisenberry will be with a team of Special Operations soldiers, conducting seven skydives, seven marathons, and seven swims on seven continents in seven days. Aside from collecting data on how the body reacts to such extreme stress, there will be a documentary as well as a manual on recovery.
“I’m excited to be a part of this project, and I’m confident that it will make a difference in the lives of veterans.”
Focusing on physical health and finding ways to make positive differences has helped Quisenberry thrive and live a blessed life after service. He intends to continue doing all that and more in his years ahead, and he hopes that other veterans will do the same in their own ways.
“I’m determined to make a difference in the world, and I know that I can do it with the support of my family, friends, and fellow veterans.”
For more information on the 7X Human Performance Project, go to join7x.com. You can find out more about the Transcend Foundation, at www.transcendfoundation.com.