John Kriesel has been a passionate patriot since he first decided to join the military at the age of 17. John served in the Minnesota Army National Guard for ten years; completing a tour in Kosovo as part of a NATO peacekeeping force and later in Iraq. While serving in Iraq, John’s vehicle came into contact with an improvised explosive device. He lost both his legs and was on the verge of death. Doctors needed to revive him three times on operating tables. Miraculously, John recovered after an eight-day medically induced coma.
Thirteen years and 35 surgeries later, John now lives a fulfilling and beautiful life. He has served as an elected official in the Minnesota House of Representatives and works as Veteran Services Director for Anoka County in the Twin Cities metro area while continuing to speak, educate, and spread positivity. In this interview, John shares why he decided to join the military, his experience while in service including the events of December 2nd, 2006, and the transition back to civilian life after life-altering injuries.
Part One: Growing up in Minnesota, joining the Army at 17, attending basic training, his first tour in Kosovo as a peacekeeper, volunteering for a tour in Iraq, hitting an improvised explosive device on December 2nd 2006, the importance of a positive mindset in crisis situations, and fighting for his life.
Part Two: Adjusting to civilian life, finding a new “normal”, running for office in Minnesota, coping with massive change, growing as a person, the power of community, discovering the power of optimism, campaigning for office, the Post-It note routine, the power of choosing to have a good day, advice for going through a scary change, being a politician, voting against making same-sex marriage illegal, meeting President George W. Bush, working as an advocate for veterans, and appreciating the new life he created.
People, Organizations, and Resources Mentioned:
The Gulf War, the US Air Force, the US Army, Minnesota Army National Guard, NATO, Saint Paul Fire Department, Kosovo, Iraq, Camp Fallujah, Walter Reed Medical Center, Minnesota House of Representatives, Tom & Eleanor Porter, the Post-It Note routine, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Tom Coburn, Bill SF 1308 (to allow voters to decide on the legality of same-sex marriage), President George W. Bush, The White House.
“My mind was sharp and I was trying to stay positive about the whole situation. Because I knew that I really had very little control over it, but what control I did have was my mindset. And I needed to stay positive as much as possible.”
-John Kriesel on the importance of optimism even when you are in a situation you cannot control.
Find John on social media @JohnKriesel and at https://www.johnmkriesel.com/