(WHTM) — Thirty-four years of service, but there are two defining moments that changed veteran Kevin Bittenbender’s outlook on life and what he is forming his legacy based on. It starts with a conversation with his Major Hank Offeciar.
“My deployment started in 2006 in October and it ran through to 2008 to June. It was probably the most trying deployment where I developed PTSD,” said Bittenbender. “My deployment started in 2006 in October and it ran through to 2008 to June. It was probably the most trying deployment where I developed PTSD.”
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Bittenbender gave him an easy answer but went back.
“I said to him ‘I really appreciate you asking me something like this’ and I really want to take some time to give him an answer that was more relevant to what he was looking for. Well, the following day he was killed,” Bittenbender said.
On August 27, 2007, Major Offeciar along with his dear friends, Carlisle Pennsylvania Police Officer Master Sergeant Scott Ball and Scranton Sergeant Jan Argonish passes away during active duty.
“It haunted me for the longest time that I wasn’t able to finish that conversation with him,” Bittenbender said.
That’s where Hope For The Warriors came in.
“Kevin is such an amazing individual. I am just wowed by his growth and his huge heart,” Jenna McDonald with Hope For The Warriors said.
Hope for the Warriors found Kevin at his lowest, and gifted him a handcycle which he uses to compete for three times a year to honor his three fallen friends and to help other veterans. He says it’s the reason he is able to talk to me today.
“Would you say that is your legacy?”
“You say that word and I get emotional. I’m sorry, yes,” Bittenbender said.
Hope For The Warriors has many different programs to restore hope and help deal with post-service trauma. The organization tells me the situation in Ukraine can affect a lot of veterans. For more information on the organization, click here.