On the eve of the 25th Anniversary of the 1991 Gulf War, celebrated Army combat veteran, Tony Drees, opens up to audiences around the country about what it takes to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds and launch a success program dedicated to helping others facing overwhelming challenges.
Tony’s story is unlike any you’ve ever heard. Pain has been a staple in Tony’s life since a very young age. At times, the power and strength of his mind has been the only weapon against the agonizing circumstances that have led his body to be deemed a medical miracle.
“My high profile injuries served as starting point in the careers of several young Army Surgeons, who are now running Orthopedic facilities across the country” ~1991 Purple Heart Recipient, Tony Drees
In 1991, a scud missile hit Tony’s barracks in the deadliest attack of the Gulf War, shattering his right femur and blowing off the backs of both of his legs. His body immediately rejected the orthopedic hardware that was to reinforce his femur, which was infested with shrapnel. It was the consensus of attending trauma physicians that the leg could not be saved. Without hesitation, Tony decided at that moment that he would use the power of his mind to save his leg and fight the battle of recovery that eluded the prognoses of the medical community. Twenty five years later, Tony’s femur serves as host to a delicate ecosystem of living tissue, metal & shrapnel, a bone that resembles a honeycomb, and a gaping wound that must remain open to expel the constant byproduct of an infection that doctors believed would kill him if his leg remained attached to his body.
“The prospect of losing my leg just didn’t work for me. Whatever the doctors and therapists told me I had to do to have a chance at recovery, I doubled it. I decided to take control of the only thing I could control, my determination. I made it my mission to make a full recovery.” TD.
Today, Tony moves like a strong, healthy man with the body of a professional athlete. What hides beneath his clothing are scars – dozens of them – that are not for the faint of heart and every step reminds him through excruciating pain that his life was spared for a reason that day in 1991.
Unfortunately, the pain and scarring is not only relegated to the injury he sustained 25 years ago. Invisible wounds lurk far beneath the surface stemming from a childhood of physical abuse which led to his placement in a foster home of another race at the age of 13. The severe PTSD Tony experienced after the Gulf War was likely not his first brush with the condition, and the origins of his wounds did not lead him down an easy path to trace. His journey was riddled with trauma that would have broken the toughest psyche, and the many years of repressing memories that festered beneath the surface, brought him down the roads of rage, addiction, and despair. The only constant that remained throughout was perseverance.
A father of four talented honor students and loving son to a foster family that took him in at then his lowest point, Tony has channeled his myriad of challenges into energy that even his children have a hard time keeping up with. There is a spark in his eye, a spring in his step, and the wounds that lie beneath are completely invisible. Until now…
Tony has leveraged his strength and charisma to move past the wounds, creating a name for himself in the world of sales and management, earning a Master’s Degree, and now developing personal and corporate training and success programs that teach others how to turn their current circumstance into a Story of Success. Speaking for the first time about the aftermath of his highly publicized combat injury (the focus of People Magazine and The NYTimes War Hero pieces), his troubled youth, and his methods for turning trauma into triumph, his engaging and interactive presentations coupled with workshops and focus groups combine the power of technology and the power of perseverance to enlist individuals, CEO’s and non-profits to name, achieve, and sustain their wildest dreams.
Despite his Invisible Disabilities, Mr. Drees shares an inspirational message about Sustainability and the value of personal accountability in Education and service to Community in his “Invisible Wounds, Invaluable Lessons” Tour.