For Bill “Big Sarge” Hansen, being strong is about more than physical prowess. For him, strength rests on his ability to be a tender and caring dad to his four daughters.
Bill, 52, competes successfully in United States Strongman, overcoming multiple spine problems, post-traumatic stress disorder, and traumatic brain injury from his service in Iraq. He measures his physical fitness against younger men while proving his inner and outer strength.
Bill has been preparing for Strongman nationals his whole life, and he’s set to compete this June. He enlisted in the Marines at 18, and his first daughter was born just 15 days before he deployed for Desert Storm. He came back, worked passionately as a sports coach, and with that same passion volunteered for the Army National Guard after 9/11. He wanted to protect those he loves at home.
While serving in Iraq in 2009, an improvised explosive device (IED) caused his squad’s five-ton truck to crash into a wall at 55 mph. Bill was tossed back and forth inside the cab. He was cleared by medics and went on 24 more missions — doing convoy security around Iraq — before he found out the extent of the damage. His headaches and double vision were symptoms of fractured vertebrae, torn back muscles, herniated disks, and a brain bleed. He was medically retired in 2014.
Upon returning home, he was prescribed painkillers that contributed to depression and caused him to gain more than 100 pounds. His family life drastically changed.
He was always present for his daughters and strived to follow his father’s example. But this time, it was tough to get out of the daze of the many prescription drugs he depended on.
“I didn’t like who I had become,” Bill recalled. He was sedentary, ate the wrong foods, and eventually reached 365 pounds.
He knew he needed help when his daughters confronted him. They wanted to know what was wrong and asked him to get help. He sought help from a few organizations. Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) called back 18 minutes after he reached out.
Read the rest of the story in Homeland magazine.
WWP works closely with other veteran service organizations, private companies, and government agencies to provide resources for warriors and families. To learn more and to register as a wounded warrior or family support member, please visit https://wwp.news/GetConnected.
About Wounded Warrior Project
Since 2003, Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP) has been meeting the growing needs of warriors, their families, and caregivers – helping them achieve their highest ambition. WWP is a national, nonpartisan organization accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), top rated by Charity Navigator, and holding a GuideStar Platinum rating. To get involved and learn how WWP connects, serves, and empowers, visit https://newsroom.woundedwarriorproject.org.