BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A brand new group of Untied States Air Force tech students arrived on the Coast just a few days ago from all over the country.
On Thursday, they heard from 72-year-old Dave Roever. If there’s anyone who defines the term and can find light during darkness, it’s this Vietnam veteran whose life was altered while serving as a gunner on a Patrol Boat, River in the U.S. Navy.
“I went into Vietnam at the end of ’68, and I was injured in July of ‘69, and I was injured when a hand grenade exploded inches from my face, a sniper’s bullet detonated a white phosphorous grenade,” Roever said. “It took off half my skin, but I kept the other half of my mind."
Roever's non-lethal weapon during this talk was humor.
"Reader’s Digest says humor’s the best medicine. The Bible says a merry heart does good. I think we need to laugh more and gripe less,” he said.
Through the laughter comes the reality, which brought many of the students to tears, including Cassie Cristo.
"He touched my soul. His speech was just very moving, I had to grab tissues because it was very moving,” Cristo said. “My children are away, and that hit home and the promises you make to them.”
That, in part, is why Roever is a resiliency coach for these up-and-coming service men and women. Current reports say 46 Air Force personnel have committed suicide this year alone.
"When things go south on you, you get hurt, your family suffers, you hang in there and don’t quit. Those that hang in there don’t get hung out to dry,” Roever added.