To combat veteran suicide, the Human Performance Project and JetHQ are taking part in the 7X world tour. The challenge pushes participants to the edge, running seven marathons on seven continents in seven days. The project will push human performance to the limit, documenting the optimum training, recovery and performance habits, technologies and programs to help struggling veterans and first responders.
VIPs are invited to join in the experience as a way to raise funds, inviting veterans for a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a chance to make a change, The event is planning to send Kegan Gill as one of the last VIPs for the event. Gill is a former F/A-18E Super Hornet Pilot that experienced a traumatic accident that ended his career. Gill's story is a look into the years of trauma and healing that many veterans undergo after suffering physical and mental injuries.
The project wants to raise $200K for the cause by Feb. 10. The 7X world tour is a collaborative effort of the navy and army special warfare operators, professional extreme sports athletes, medical professionals and human performance specialists. The data from the documentation on the tour will be made available, serving as a resource for anyone wanting to improve their quality of life.
The tour will begin in Antarctica with ice wall climbing, a polar plunge and a snowball fight against the special operators. The tour continues with events in Perth, Dubai, Cairo, London, Cartagena and ends in Dallas with a welcome home party. VIP guests like Gill can participate in the event and by doing so, raise money for a worthy cause.
Gill published the story of his journey to Heroic Hearts Project, a program that offers vets a different sort of treatment to heal PTSD and financial support if needed.
On Jan. 15, 2014, Gill was beginning a normal day as a Super Hornet pilot in VFA-143. The Pukin' Dogs were stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana and began training with one versus one Basic Fighter Maneuvering (BFM), or as Gill called it, a dogfight.
In the water below was a large great white shark, nicknamed Mary-Lee, that had been tracked on a GPS program. This was a way for the squadron to have some lighthearted fun, tracking Mary-Lee in the water below. Gil said that morning he and his friend had joked that it would be a bad day to eject, with Mary-Lee looming in the waters below.
With little fuel left, Gill and his flight lead performed one last set of BFM. His jet was partially inverted and he decided to continue a dive toward the ocean before performing a split-S maneuver to bring the jet around for another shot. As he attempted another shot, he said his jet was, "no longer doing what I wanted to do."
"It was like going around a sharp corner in a sports car then having the steering wheel kickback halfway. Instead of skidding off the road, I was now stuck in a dive at the Atlantic Ocean."
Faced with crashing into the ocean, he pulled the ejection handle and braced for the impact. The sequence takes less than half a second, thrusting Gill's body at a rate of 695mph, or 95 percent the speed of sound. His body impacted the transonic sound barrier and it was the fastest survived ejection in the history of naval aviation.
In a normal ejection, the spine is permanently compressed and flail injuries are often a result. When Gill impacted the sound barrier, his helmet was ripped off, causing a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI), a broken neck and a broken left shoulder. His arms had several fractures and the fragments from the humerus bone fracture in his right arm tore through his brachial artery and caused internal bleeding. He had open fractures in his legs and his parachute opened enough to keep him from dying upon impact.
Gill was in the 37-degree Fahrenheit water for an hour and a half while a rescue team worked on saving him. With a partially inflated life preserver unit, he had the occasional breath as he drifted in and out of consciousness.Kegan Gill
"With rapid blood loss, I feared the massive white shark Mary Lee could come and finish me off at any second."
The cold water saved Gill from bleeding to death and he had a long battle in the hospital with dialysis for his failing kidneys and over a dozen surgeries. Now fitted with titanium rods and steel plates, Gill's surgical team kept him alive. He was told he would never walk again or use his arms, but with he was determined to prove them wrong.
After overcoming the physical trauma, he returned to flying the Super Hornets, when he began to suffer mentally and was given a diagnosis of delayed onset PTSD.
Like many other veterans, Gill was on the pharmaceutical route, dealing with the harmful side effects that worsened his life and induced psychosis.
"One night I was ready to put my pistol in my mouth. I wondered what the gun oil would taste like and how the barrel would feel on my teeth. The only thing that stopped me was looking over and seeing my young son sleeping beside my beautiful wife. I did not want to wake them up."Kegan Gill in his dress uniform
After more medication and time in an inpatient acute care psyche facility, he continued to worsen mentally and had to sign paperwork that declared him mentally defective legally.
"I was just an American veteran trying to get some help. Instead, I was drugged and stripped of my constitutional rights."
In his healing process at home, Gill discovered alternate options, like psychedelic therapy. He began with a guided psilocybin retreat and soon began to wean off the medications that had caused him too many problems in his recovery.
Gill eventually attended a running event with a community of veterans and was introduced to Jesse Gould from the Heroic Hearts Project. He said he finally began to get real help and since, his "life has been on an upward trajectory."
After eight and a half years of TBI treatment that caused more harm than good, Gill was finally healing his brain and with that, his soul. Gill outlined an incredible journey at the Heroic Hearts Soltara Healing Center in Tarapoto, Peru. He went through an intensive three-night ayahuasca ceremony under the guidance of two indigenous Shipibo shaman from the Amazon. Along with seven other veterans, Gill went through a mind-altering ordeal to overcome his TBI and PTSD and said his life has changed since the event.Kegan Gill with Shipibo healers
"Since Peru, my life has been flowing like breath. I am no longer clawing to survive."
Gill later went to the Resiliency Brain Clinic in Dallas and feels that there are many modalities to help veterans heal from a TBI. He has now been off of his pharmaceutical medicine for over a year and is beginning to thrive rather than survive.
With such an incredible journey, the Human Performance Project and JetHQ are honored to have the American hero join on the mission. Donations are still needed to send Gill on the adventure of a lifetime and give the inspirational veteran a day to remember.
His story of recovery is a testament to the bravery and resilience of many veterans. He survived a traumatic event and has continued to survive through PTSD and his healing journey is a unique tale of healing and recovery. The mission is not only to provide Gill with a memorable experience but ultimately raise funds for veteran suicide prevention.
Veteran suicides are on the rise and there is hope and help out there for those struggling.
"Please know that there is hope out there, and as more veterans heal, we can get back to fighting to help those struggling around us. We can become a beacon of hope for others and truly help repair our country and the world. First, we must heal ourselves."Donate here to help change the future of veterans and send Gill on the expedition