I am fortunate to work as a spokesperson for Gore Medical and its Ultimate SAAAVE, a campaign to encourage those at risk for an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) to be screened for the condition. My father died from a ruptured AAA. If an AAA is detected in a screening, it can be repaired through a non-invasive procedure.
Earlier this spring, I was in Peoria, Illinois to participate in a free AAA screening clinic at the OSF Healthcare Vascular Institute – with the institute, along with Gore, also co-sponsoring the event. While in Peoria for the screening clinic, it was my privilege to meet and talk with U.S. Army Cpl. Matt Egan, who recently completed four years of active duty with the 173rd Airborne Combat Brigade – nicknamed The Sky Soldiers.
It was my privilege – and what I recognize as an obligation – to thank Matt for his service to America, which included a nine-month tour in a remote combat outpost in Afghanistan.
Matt’s father is Michael Egan, who works in endovascular sales for Gore Medical. Michael Egan is also a Senior Captain with the Patriot Guard Riders, an organization of motorcyclists who provide an honor guard for funerals and other memorials of fallen soldiers, armed forces veterans, and first responders.
Matt Egan, who turned 27 on June 18, is now on inactive reserve with the army, and is a full-time student at Illinois Central College, and also works part-time.
I was immensely honored when Cpl. Egan presented me with the gift of a 173rd Airborne Brigade Challenge Coin, an emblem held in sacred trust among members of the Sky Soldiers.
My trip to and visit in Peoria was a positive all around – doing important and vital work, and meeting and talking with, and receiving a gift from, one of the best and bravest of our republic.