EOD WARRIOR SPOTLIGHT: Staff Sergeant Kevin and Toni Brown.
Infantry to EOD Warrior.
Staff Sergeant Kevin Brown, aka 'Cool Daddy.' Picking up the nickname in basic training for his overly calm demeanor and nothing will faze me attitude, he pushed through the physical, mental and emotional strain without complaint. He enlisted in 1996, starting boots on the ground in the Army Infantry, and served for two years with a deployment to Saudi Arabia before finding his true passion, Explosive Ordnance Disposal or EOD. A top secret security clearance piqued his interest, but what sold him on the job was a couple of long-haired EOD Technicians, shirts untucked, with a can-do, will-do mentality disarming a botched hand grenade on the range. Not long after, he was in a tech suit testing through EOD school.
EOD for Life.
For the next six years, Kevin would eat, sleep, and breathe EOD. He deployed to Afghanistan for eight months as a two-man team with an E4 Specialist. Only having a go-pack and rucksack on their backs, they administered 37 hand entries. After serving for eight years and retiring from the Army in 2004 as EOD, he joined the private sector as a contractor and began educating others on the disarming of bombs. He's been with the same company for over 17 years and has trained with the FBI, Tactical Special Agent Bomb Technicians (SABT) of the Bureau, Pentagon officials, SWAT teams, and the United States Army and Navy. Carrying on with his EOD training, he and his wife, Toni, put down roots in Richmond, Virginia, with their two children.
9.27.22 - 9.28.22.
It was a Tuesday. Kevin was out playing a round of golf with a couple of buddies when he experienced shortness of breath. He went home, thinking none of it, tried to shake it off, and carried on with his day. The next morning Kevin started with a jog to see if it would help his breathing. He didn't make it very far. When he made it to Toni, she noticed skin discoloration, with grayish tones settling in. She called 911. Kevin's heart stopped beating, and CPR was administered for 24 minutes- three separate times. He experienced a pulmonary embolism which is a blood clot in the lung. His odds were not good. It's normal to see doctors, nurses, and counselors while in the hospital, but the moment Toni saw the pastor, she realized the severity of the situation. Kevin pulled through, but this was only the beginning.
TBI or Traumatic Brain Injury.
On October 3rd, 2022, a friend visited Kevin in the hospital. When they were talking, his vision shifted as if he was looking through a stained glass window. Then it went dark. Kevin suffered from a mini-stroke which left him completely blind. It caused his limbs to have spasms, hindering his ability to walk and use his right hand. He also lost some of his memory. It was determined his condition was due to a neurological issue, and he was transferred to the Traumatic Brain Injury ward. At some point in time, parts of Kevin's brain were injured. The injuries sustained caused portions of his brain to completely shut down, leaving him to rebuild those neurological connections he lost through physical and occupational therapy.
Kevin and Toni are taking recovery 56 days at a time. The first 56-day interval started from the day of the incident to the day he was discharged from Sheltering Arms Institute, his rehabilitation center. The second 56-day milestone began on November 22nd, 2022, when he came home for the first time to January 17th, 2023. He is currently on his third 56-day window to recovery, which will take him into the second week of March. He hopes to put the pedal to the metal and start driving again. And he will get there. His determination and grit won't allow otherwise. Through hard work and pure will, he has already regained most of his vision and memory and is walking on his own. Kevin has brought the can-do, will-do EOD attitude with him throughout the recovery process and will continue to heal and improve.
The First to Show Up.
When they say EOD family is for life, they mean it. When Kevin was admitted to the hospital, his EOD colleagues and teammates were by his side the same day. Toni was put into contact with the EOD Warrior Foundation, and they were ready to help. In a meaningful way and at a crucial time, the EOD community and the Foundation showed up. They were immediate and thoughtful and provided the aid Toni didn't know she needed. Early in the process, they were involved, showing up with food at her doorstep and providing financial assistance and emotional support. Thankful doesn't even begin to describe what it meant to Toni and her family. From the start, EOD was there.
Follow Kevin's Recovery.
Kevin will never stop fighting to fully recover. He has made monumental strides, but he isn't done yet. Toni has kept a detailed online journal documenting Kevin's rehabilitation and recovery. You can follow his journey by visiting: https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/kevinbrown9. We will be rooting for Kevin as he continues to heal, progress, and rebuild his life with Toni and their two children readily by his side.
EOD Warrior Foundation.
The EOD Warrior Foundation supplies aid to EOD warriors and the families of wounded and fallen EOD personnel. Active-Duty, Reserve and National Guard, Retired, and Veteran EOD technicians and their families can seek financial assistance and relief, education, and emotional support. They are devoted to ensuring no EOD warrior or family is left behind, and the Foundation acts as a beacon of hope in their hour of need. To learn more about their mission and ways to help EOD warriors and their families, visit the Foundation's website: https://eodwarriorfoundation.org/.
A special thanks to Kevin and Toni for letting us tell their story. We are grateful.
- The Out of Regz Team