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Leadership, Sacrifice, and Hope: HSL’s Day with Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Gretchen Evans

HSL had the great honor of spending time with Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Gretchen Evans, a decorated US Army veteran boasting over 27 awards including the Purple Heart and the 2022 Pat Tillman Award for Service. Along with her Husband, Navy Captain and Chaplain Robert Evans, and their adorable service dogs Rusty and Kermit, the HSL team was inspired by Gretchen’s extraordinary tales of leadership, sacrifice, and hope.  

Over the course of her 27 years of service, Evans’ dedication and hard work saw her achieve the rank of Command Sergeant Major, the highest-ranking position for an enlisted soldier, leading her to command over 30,000 ground troops.  Only a few short years after this prestigious achievement Gretchen’s life would be forever altered by the detonation of a mortar round, causing severe brain injuries and leaving her completely deaf.  

Gretchen spoke with us passionately about her impressive military service, but it was her deeply personal account of the struggle after her traumatic experience that was supremely captivating. Throughout her recovery, Gretchen searched for new purpose and adventure finally finding it in running, hiking, and in her new service dog Aura.  Gretchen spoke about the power of saying “yes”, explaining just how much she needed that “yes” when she reached out to America’s VetDogs for help.  Their organization provided her with her first service dog who was also the first service dog in their program to be trained as a hearing guide dog. With Aura by her side, Gretchen was again both hopeful and unstoppable.

Gretchen has since channeled her strength of leadership through Team Unbroken, an adaptive athletic team of which she is the proud founder.  This mixed ability team is comprised of civilians and veterans who participate in all types of athletic competitions, even competing on a global stage in Amazon’s World’s Toughest Race.

The HSL team is inspired by Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) Gretchen Evans’ exemplary leadership, perseverance in the face of incredible hardship, and her unbreakable spirit.

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