Staff Sgt. Brian Dupree, US Air Force
“Originally, I signed up for the educational benefits but during my 1st term, I deployed to the Middle East and everything changed. I quickly realized that my work in telecommunications had a direct connection to the warfighter and gave them a critical lifeline when calling for support. It was no longer about tuition but about making a difference for all my comrades. A patriot was born that remains to this day, serving others via WWP, Team Rubicon, Team RWB, and Travis Manion Foundation.”
That desire to be of service to others intensified after a motorcycle accident in 2018 permanently changed his life and purpose. Prior to the accident, Brian enjoyed commuting to work on his motorcycle every day, feeling blessed that he lived in a place where he could enjoy the beauty of riding through the pristine Apalachicola National Forest. One warm, spring day on his way home from work, he made a detour to pick up his packet for a charity 10K race he was intending to run over the weekend. Suddenly, a car pulled in front of him, leaving no time to avoid a collision. While doctors were able to determine there were no immediate breaks or bleeds, the trauma to his brain and spinal cord was significant. Brian’s neck was already compromised due to prior trauma that rendered C5-6 fused. To this day, he still deals with pain and effects of Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Concussion Syndrome, late-onset Post Traumatic Stress, cognitive deficits, neuro fatigue, and an auto-immune response that has triggered the disintegration of his lower lumbar area, neuropathy, and lymphedema.
Brian returned to work and his volunteer efforts, but quickly realized he was struggling physically and cognitively from his injuries and had to repurpose his life. A true inspiration, he says he does not long for his former life but celebrates his new life as it has refocused him on new ways of serving others. Despite continuous pain, he currently serves as a Community Support Specialist with the Wounded Warrior Project Independence program, a Veterans peer support liaison with the Brain Injury Association of Georgia, a Wellness Ambassador with Give An Hour, provides humanitarian services with Team Rubicon and assists with the community with Travis Manion Foundation.
One of the Warriors he currently assists is fellow Dive Pirates recipient Adam Cherney. Brian says Adam inspired him to get off the couch and get moving again. Not only has Brian realized that he thoroughly enjoys being active with rock climbing, golf, and recumbent cycling, but also the incredible freedom from pain that is provided by the neutral buoyancy of diving. He trained with Instructor John Player of DiVentures Alpharetta, and Jon Christian of Madison Scuba.