Warrior Navigates from Troubled to Healing Waters
Brady Busby spent nine out of his 14 years of military service in combat-related deployments. The Army veteran served in Korea, Kosovo, Iraq three times, and Afghanistan three times.
Returning home came with its share of battles, including multiple back surgeries, overmedication, and the loss of his oldest daughter to suicide. A problematic spinal fusion made the pain so intense that he needed the aid of a cane to walk.
Yet, a quiet calm precedes Brady. In contrast to the sounds of war and despair, his mental health resilience has produced a presence like the sound of the streams where he finds solace.
Brady no longer needs a cane, has since been buoyed by tranquil moments in nature, and has learned to share his hard-earned wisdom with others while staying active in veterans service organizations like Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).
Finding His Way Back to Peace
After coping with his physical issues for 10 years, losing his daughter precipitated his search for help, and he knew where to turn for veterans mental health services. WWP was there for Brady as he reached out to WWP Talk for support.
“I talked to someone from WWP Talk for a year after my daughter Ashley died,” Brady said. “It was invaluable help and prepared me for deeper work.”
WWP Talk is the organization’s free telephonic emotional support line. The program provides a safe, non-judgmental outlet to warriors and their family members managing PTSD, anxiety, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and other invisible wounds of war.
He started attending more veteran connection events with WWP and slowly went from quiet to trusting. The walls began to come down.
“You trust other service members, and you know that you share only if you want to,” Brady said. “I was confident enough to share, and they understood.”
While still using WWP Talk, he learned about WWP’s Warrior Care Network®, which partners with four academic medical centers across the country. It proved to be a turning point for Brady.
“I met highly skilled doctors who explained everything in a way that made sense,” Brady said. He attended Operation Mend at UCLA for intensive therapy for PTSD and anxiety. WWP also covered costs to bring his wife Sarah, allowing Brady and Sarah to attend couples therapy.
“They explained PTSD triggers and worked with me and my spouse to better understand what’s going on. My wife knows my triggers now.”
Through two- to three-week intensive outpatient programs, Warrior Care Network provides care tailored to each veteran and family member. The programs integrate behavioral health care, rehabilitative medicine, wellness, nutrition, mindfulness training, and family support.
Warrior Care Network also helps veterans find local therapists back home to make it easier to continue treatment at no cost. Brady said he talked to a therapist for one year after the intensive treatment at UCLA.
“I’ve been blessed to know Wounded Warrior Project,” Brady said.
Reclaiming the Journey of the Peaceful Warrior
At 13 years old, Brady learned to fly fish from a WWII veteran who was his scoutmaster. Tying flies, casting in streams, and catching fish were as fun for him as baseball and video games were to other kids.
That bond with nature proved to be a lifeline — and helped Brady connect with Project Healing Waters, a nonprofit organization based in Virginia that takes veterans on outdoor adventures. He started mentoring other veterans and sharing his experiences as a soldier and his knowledge of fly fishing.
“When I’m fly fishing, I’m surrounded by beautiful things, so I’m thinking about the surroundings and busy tying flies,” Brady said. The more he fished, the better he felt physically and emotionally. “I haven’t used the cane in years.”
The process of tying flies also helped Brady’s dexterity. “It helped me learn to move with the tremors,” Brady said about the unsteadiness caused by TBI after his medical retirement. He also used to paint — a talent his late daughter Ashley shared.
Brady has picked up the brush again to paint and picked up the pen to write. In his quest to express his feelings and honor his daughter’s memory, Brady wrote a book titled Healing Waters: A Life of Hardships, Faith, and Family. “I wanted to tell her story as well as my own.”
These days, Brady cherishes time with wife Sarah and daughter Emma, who is attending college. He looks forward to sharing his story of resilience with veterans and civilians, enjoying fly fishing and the outdoors, and being a light in the darkness. “I would be honored to be an example of perseverance and let others know there’s help through the hard times.”
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. Learn more.