Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans – one of the most decorated female veterans in U.S. history
Bronze Star recipient for valor and heroism in combat in Afghanistan
Why Book Command Sergeant Major (RET) Gretchen Evans to be your next Speaker?
Gretchen was a successful senior military intelligence analyst and paratrooper, operating in several high tempo and dangerous missions around the world including Grenada, Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In 2006, while working as a sergeant major in Afghanistan, a mortar blast threw her into a concrete bunker wall. She suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury and lost 95% of her hearing, ending her career in military service. Gretchen received the Bronze Star for valor and heroism in combat.
Gretchen shares compelling and riveting stories and experiences, going from being the highest enlisted rank in the Army to traversing through life after a serious combat injury. Her insightful and poignant perspective offers a view into a window of today’s warriors, and offers nuggets of wisdom and impactful takeaways. She shares her story with a unique style of encouragement, hope and humor.
Gretchen’s story is featured in the new 2020 bestselling book, What’s Within You, and starting in August 2020, Gretchen and her adventure racing team, Team UNBROKEN, will be featured in the “World’s Toughest Race” on Amazon Prime, hosted by Bear Grylls and produced by Mark Burnett. Team UNBROKEN is the first totally disabled team to ever compete in this arduous adventure race. Their desire is to bring awareness that disabilities do not define or limit what is possible with hard work, grit, gumption, and a rope team.
United States Curling Association ~ Prudential ~ Wells Fargo ~ Co Bank ~ Cabinets to Go ~ Dogtopia ~ Baltimore Orioles ~ Kimberly-Clark Corporation ~ WilmerHale ~ Xylem ~ Moody ~ Food Lion ~ No Barriers USA ~ America’s VETDOGS ~ Stoneward ~ The Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic at Centerstone ~ Veterans ASCEND ~ Military Women’s Memorial
- “By far the best part of the whole conference” TEDWomen – Wells Fargo
- “Unbelievably amazing! Gretchen rocked my soul” TEDWomen – Wells Fargo
- “Gretchen was PHENOMENAL!!!! She had amazing energy and was just an absolute inspiration. LOVED that she was so authentic and engaging, and she was open and kind and so courageous… truly inspiring” TEDWomen – Wells Fargo
Texas native Command Sergeant Major Gretchen Evans is one of the most decorated female veterans in U.S. history. Throughout her 27 years in the service, CSM Evans worked her way up to Command Sergeant Major – the highest rank an enlisted soldier can achieve. In this role, she was responsible for the security and personnel on all bases and forwarding operation bases in Afghanistan, and oversaw more than 30,000 ground troops. She earned numerous medals and awards, including the Bronze Star, the Presidential Unit Citation Medal, and Global War on Terrorism ribbons, six Meritorious Service Medals and numerous other awards.
In 2006, Command Sergeant Major Evans’ world changed in a millisecond when she was severely wounded by incoming fire while serving in Afghanistan. The rocket blast caused her debilitating injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, internal injuries and the loss of all hearing.
After her combat injury, recent PTSD diagnosis and subsequent retirement from service, her transition from military life to civilian life was difficult. Her heart was broken and she felt hopeless, not only due to the injuries she sustained but also due to the sudden loss — of family, a team, the fellowship and the mission she had found and loved, the military experience. She found her way into No Barriers Warriors, a life-changing organization that serves veterans with disabilities from all branches of the military and all eras of service. The healing environment restored her confidence, gave her hope and a renewed passion for living life to the fullest.
Today, Gretchen Evans is determined to pay it forward by focusing her efforts on improving the lives of her fellow veterans by actively serving as a mentor, coach, and community activist. Gretchen is an ambassador for nonprofit No Barriers USA. She continues to serve as a board member of several veteran-focused organizations and is a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. In 2017, she published her first book, Leading from the Front, Lessons by a Command Sergeant Major, and in 2018, she co-led a group of youth with mixed abilities on an expedition to Nepal.
Gretchen currently resides in Brunswick, Maine, with her husband Robert, a Navy veteran and their two service dogs Aura and Rusty. She is an avid hiker, runner, cyclist, and reader. Gretchen will be inducted into the U.S. Veterans Hall of Fame in 2021 for her outstanding and meritorious service within the United States Army and her community.
FROM HERO TO ZERO Keynote
Twenty-seven years combined service in the United States Army came to an abrupt end when a well-place rocket rendered Gretchen deaf with a traumatic brain injury and no plan B.
We all face trauma at some time in our lives. They look and feel different, a loss of a loved one, a career loss, physical loss. How you approach the devastation will determine whether you take flight or lie down. Resiliency, grit and gumption are mandatory elements to get you back to living your life of passion and purpose.
The audience will learn the importance of developing resiliency. Gretchen will offer steps on building resiliency and apply these steps to overcome life’s challenges.
FIND YOUR ROPE TEAM Keynote
Command Sergeant Major (RET) Gretchen Evans was a successful senior military intelligence analyst and paratrooper, operating in several high tempo and dangerous missions around the world including Grenada, Kosovo, Bosnia, Somalia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
She had it all. A great career, passion and purpose hope and drive. In one second, her world changed and so did she. Teetering on the brink of suicidal thoughts, Gretchen battled devastating injuries, deafness and head injuries. Through a process of pure grit, she found her rope team, a new passion and purpose in life. There is always a way out of the darkness!
The audience will hear an inspiring, funny, sad, motivational story of overcoming barriers in life while maintaining humor, humility, dedication, hope and passion. Gretchen’s story will inspire anyone to live their life without regret or fear.
WORLD’S TOUGHEST RACE! Keynote
Gretchen will share about her experiences competing in the World’s Toughest Race with Team UNBROKEN which is featured on Amazon Prime with a team of 4 disabled people. Gretchen’s experiences with Team UNBROKEN will dispel the idea that disability means disqualification and the audience will see firsthand how grit and perseverance results into doing anything you set your mind to.
REAL LEADERSHIP! Keynote
Leading a team is more than convincing them to follow you. It takes Real Leadership.
- Real Leadership is seeing, acknowledging, understanding and nurturing the strengths of your team.
- Real Leadership is about sacrifice for the greater good.
- Real Leadership is about building not only the best teams but happy, content, loyal and competent teams.
Learn from a Real Leader, a seasoned leader, who has built teams that willingly laid their very lives on the line for each other.