Battling Bruin: Robert

Posted November 2016

Robert Williamson joined the army as a medic at age 19 knowing he was going one of two places after training. Shortly after arriving at first duty station, Fort Carson, Colorado his unit received orders to deploy to Iraq. His first deployment was during “The Surge” from December 2007 to February 2009, a 15-month deployment to Northern Bagdad where some of the most intense fighting in all of Iraq took place, in the Sadr City district. Through countless firefights, multiple explosions and the arduous operation tempo which is combat, Williamson sustained several life altering injuries. It was during this time he earned his Combat Medic Badge, which is awarded to medics who treat casualties while under direct fire. After his unit returned to Fort Carson, it was a short 12-month break before they deployed again, this time to Southern Iraq for 12 months.

After returning from Iraq, Williamson began to have severe headaches in addition to other medical issues. He sought help but found it challenging. The wounds of war, most invisible, continued to have an effect on him as well as those around him – both family and fellow service members – even after he had resumed duties stateside. Trying to find the right medical diagnosis and subsequent treatment to heal from these injuries was a difficult journey; and living with his symptoms was a heavy burden while fulfilling his duties of as a father, husband and soldier.

Williamson first was involved with UCLA though Operation Mend, where he was referred for debilitating migraines which the Army could not find a treatment for. He also carried the mental injuries of dealing with not only combat, but combat through the experience of a medic. Having to treat not just fellow soldiers, but local nationals including children, was unbelievably hard. Wounds such as these need special people to treat them and a very special organization, Operation Mend, accepted the challenge. Through Operation Mend, Williamson received access to the best doctors along with being guided and cared for by the staff. The people who work for and are involved with this organization have a gift for treating the patients like family and for ensuring continuity of care. Along with exceptional medical treatment, the patients are introduced to affiliated groups and individuals that share the passion for helping wounded veterans and their families. During several of the trips out to UCLA with Operation Mend, the UCLA Spirit Squad has met with Williamson. Operation Mend knew he had been involved in competitive cheerleading before joining the military, and knew he would appreciate the opportunity. Groups like the Spirit Squad, who take the time to connect with veterans like Williamson, are just some of the many blessings surrounding the Operation Mend program.

Williamson was medically retired from the Army in 2014. He recently relocated to Colorado Springs, Colorado with his wife, Tiffany, and two children, Emma (age 5 yrs.) and Robert (age 3 yrs.). The area is veteran friendly and a beautiful place to call home. Williamson decided to leave the medical field and has started a new career as a gold miner at the historic CC&V mine in Cripple Creek, Colorado. He enjoys being with his family and friends, as well as helping other veterans when he has the opportunity.

Operation Mend has done great things for many veterans and continues to be an organization that is making a difference. Williamson is very thankful for the medical team and what they have been able to accomplish for him, as well as providing resources to many other wounded service members. Physical injuries, as well as injuries like Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD, are life-changing. Many veterans tragically take their own life due to the unique injuries they suffer after returning from war, and Williamson is grateful to programs such as Operation Mend to help change that, to offer help and hope.

About Battling Bruins » | All Battling Bruins »