As commander of D Troop, 1/6 Cavalry, in 1999, it was my privilege to welcome soldiers as they joined me in Korea. That’s me in the black Stetson.
During my orientation, I made it clear my priority was our mission. I reinforced that there was no way to accomplish our mission if I didn’t care for the health, welfare, and training of every soldier. That became my mission so others could accomplish everything else during my two-year command.
Twenty-one months later, I stood at the Pittsburgh VA with my records. I was in need of someone to guide me in this life as a Veteran with multiple sclerosis (MS). After a look at my records, one statement set my new world into motion.
“Welcome home, Captain Byrne!”
The VHA serves me, a Soldier for Life, by providing me the health, welfare, and training to accomplish my mission. I documented that mission with the founding of NEVER STOP NEVER QUIT.
The purpose of NEVER STOP NEVER QUIT is to raise funds, support treatment, and promote awareness in the fight against multiple sclerosis.
I owe my mission statement to the VA MS Centers of Excellence. In 2010, I was searching for volunteer opportunities. I was asked if I would, “Consider writing articles for the website. Articles on your MS experience…”
“Absolutely!” was the simple reply. Everything snowballed into an organization that has raised over $700,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and increased awareness of our collective goals.
The 56 stories for the VA grew to 97 in my personal blog.
In 2016, I released my first book, a children’s picture book for my daughter Ellie titled My MS and E!
I continued writing, fundraising, and focusing on my health and welfare. My MS continued to worsen, however. By November 28, 2017, there wasn’t much fight left. I announced to my readers I was taking a step away to focus on what truly mattered (my health, my mind, and My Little Love – Eleanor).
In 2018, I physically improved more than any other year in my fight. None of my disabilities have diminished but my body is better conditioned to endure, supplement, or compensate for the damage inflicted by my MS. I’m stronger, lighter, and have more endurance.
In 2018, I found comfort with my personal set of challenges. Counselors, loving family, and friends helped me navigate my new environment. The focus on what I can, or need to, handle now is narrow—my impact more ‘effective.’
I transformed my thoughts into The Ramblings of a Condemned Man. The collection of stories reflects the directions my mind wanders in.
The novella …in abeyance was released separately as Book #1 in The Condemned Man Series.
Book #2, Annie Flynn – First Row, Second Desk, was released in December.
The saga, Moments, will be released this month, March 2019. One hundred percent of the money earned from the sale of these books goes directly to our fight against MS.
My Little Love
When 2018 began, my daughter was the only person I wanted to hold every day. With Ellie, pictured below, I rediscovered the magic of love for family, and friends, and those who find a special place in my heart.
VA cared for my health, training, and welfare. My promise is to move beyond recovery into excellence and to continue paying forward.
VA Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence
The Multiple Sclerosis Centers of Excellence are dedicated to furthering the understanding of MS, its impact on Veterans and effective treatments to help manage MS. By partnering with Veterans, caregivers, health care professionals, MS advocates, Veteran service organizations, and community health care institutes, the centers strive to minimize impairment and maximize the quality of life for Veterans with MS.
Recent studies done in collaboration with the VA show the prevalence of MS is twice as high as previously estimated. Nearly 1 million people are living with MS in the United States.
March is Multiple Sclerosis Education and Awareness Month.
MS is a complex neurologic disease that affects the central nervous system which includes the brain, spinal cord, and vision pathways.
Kevin was born and raised in New York City. A graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) in 1999, while serving overseas in command of a US Army Air Cavalry Troop. He is now medically retired and lives in Portland, Oregon with his daughter, Eleanor.
Kevin devotes much of his time and energy towards overcoming the challenges of his own MS, so he can fight for others. He began writing and blogging in 2010 for VA, the National MS Society, and then NEVER STOP NEVER QUIT, a charitable foundation he co-formed to further expand his fundraising and advocacy in the fight against MS.