Retired U.S. Army Colonel Gregory Gadson says that success happens by staying present, and letting go of the invisible anchors that hold you back.
Gadson knows what he’s talking about. The war hero, actor, photographer, philanthropist and business owner is also the first-ever double amputee to command a major military installation — Fort Belvoir.
On Tuesday (July 12), Gadson spoke at the quarterly ALX Community Founders TALX incubator, and gave tips to business owners on success.
“Look, I understand we all have goals, we got things that we want to achieve and got to, we’ve got to have a bar, we’ve got to have a beacon, we got to have a direction,” Gadson said. “Life is about the journey. But how many of us truly, truly live every day?”
Gadson is the cofounder and managing partner with Patriot Strategies, and also cofounded Diversitypop.
Before he was wounded in Iraq in 2007, the Chesapeake native was a football star at West Point, after which he lived the life of a professional soldier — without thinking too far ahead. On May 7, 2007, he was the commander of the 2nd Battalion, 32 Field Artillery, returning from a memorial service for two soldiers. His Humvee was hit by an improvised explosive device, and he lost both his legs above the knee. He was brought back to life six times and received 129 pints of blood.
“How many of us live our lives every single day like it’s my last day?” Gadson asked. “Tomorrow is not promised. Every one of us in here one day will not have a tomorrow.”
Gadson continued, “That was the gift that I received on May 7, 2007 — that I live my life in the present… If you’re dragging something from yesterday with you today, you’re encumbered. You’re uncovering yourself with something you can’t change. I say release it. Let it go. It’s an invisible anchor that you’re holding that’s gonna prevent you from being the best that you can be.”
After his incident, Gadson petitioned to stay in the Army. He retired after 26 years in uniform in 2014 as the Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir.
“What’s your passion?” he asked. “What’s your purpose? What gets you up? I started to think about that, and I said, ‘Okay, what gets me up is being able to pursue my passions, to pursue my service, my continued service.”
Gadson also became an actor, with a speaking role in the movie “Battleship.” Last year, he acted in Denzel Washington’s A Journal For Jordan, and said that he will be playing a role in the upcoming season of NCIS: Los Angeles.
“I’ll be playing a retired colonel,” Gadson said.
Gadson said that he has three rules to living life.
“Be present, be your best and be at peace,” he said. ” Challenge yourself grow. Don’t be afraid.”
Election day in Alexandria — “Alexandria voters will decide local races for Mayor, City Council, School Board and more.” [Patch]
Deployed Dad makes surprise visit to ACPS — “Lt. Col Warren makes a surprise visit. Join in for this special moment!” [ACPS]
First responders host annual coat drive for local kids — “First responders from throughout Northern Virginia came together Oct. 25 to help distribute more than 3,000 new coats destined for children in need as part of the Firefighters and Friends to the Rescue annual coat drive.” [Alexandria Gazette]
Alexandria Women’s Commission Partners With Vola Lawson Breast Cancer Fund — “The Commission for Women and other agencies underwrite mammograms for Alexandrians who are uninsured or whose insurance does not cover the screenings.” [Zebra]
Bryan Watson, former NHL player, Bugsy’s Pizza founder, dies — “Watson founded Bugsy’s Pizza Restaurant and Sports Bar in 1983, crafting it into a favorite sports bar in Old Town Alexandria. It was initially known as The Penalty Box before adopting his nickname ‘Bugsy’s’. As reported by the Capitals, Watson displayed various artifacts, sweaters, equipment and photos at Bugsy’s and shared stories of his hockey career with customers.” [Patch]
Alexandria native serves with U.S. Navy Amphibious Squadron — “Lt. Anton Ekman is a 2011 graduate of Bishop Ireton High School and 2015 U.S. Naval Academy graduate. Today, Ekman serves as a cryptologic warfare officer.” [Zebra]
Townhomes proposed at former Topgolf and Ruby Tuesday in Kingstowne — “Developers has been attempting to find new uses for the site since 2016 when a mix of townhomes, multifamily units and 70,000 square feet of retail space were proposed.” [Alexandria Living]
Today’s weather — “Intervals of clouds and sunshine (during the day). A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. High 94F. Winds SSW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy (in the evening). A stray shower or thunderstorm is possible. Low 77F. Winds SSW at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
News job: Recreation coordinator — “In pursuit of service excellence, the Recreation Coordinator works closely with the Recreation Manager in developing, implementing, and overseeing free and fee-based programming at one of the City’s recreation centers.” [Indeed]
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine got an earful on military family needs at a roundtable he hosted Tuesday morning at the National Military Family Association in Alexandria.
Facing few childcare options, one military spouse had to take three years off of work as a physician’s assistant to take care of her young children.
“I have three kids that will have to go to different (childcare) places,” the woman said. “Because in this area it’s really hard, at least in my experience, to find childcare from infant through the lower elementary ages. So, I’m going to be driving around or finding a nanny for my youngest, which is on the plus side of $20 an hour is what we’re finding, which is cost prohibitive.”
On-base childcare options are scarce, as an estimated 65% of U.S. military families are forced to pay for childcare out of their pockets.
Kaine wrote the Jobs and Childcare for Military Families Act, which was introduced into the Senate last month. He’s trying to get the Act attached to the massive National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress will be considering later this summer. As active duty military spouses experience high rates of unemployment, Kaine said he at least hoped the pandemic has taught employers that their workers can largely work from home.
“if we can help families with children have more knowledge in their pocket, and we can fund more childcare — those would be two big things,” Kaine said.
The Act would help military spouses get jobs with the expansion of the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, in addition to the creation of flexible spending accounts so that childcare expenses are paid with pre-tax dollars.
One Space Force officer living in Alexandria said that her civilian husband was kept from taking jobs that required travel, since getting childcare was too difficult.
“In the space force between 30 and 40% of our missions are in 24/7 facilities,” the officer said. “There’s an assumption that a spouse is always going to be there to pick up the slack.”
Kaine, the former Virginia Governor and Mayor of Richmond, was a missionary in Honduras and never served in the military, although one of his sons is a U.S. Marine reservist. He is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, as well as the Foreign Relations and Budget Committees.
“I’m sort of hoping that maybe a silver lining of the last year has been people realized, ‘Wow, a lot of folks can do really great work, even if they’re not in the same zip code as the office.’ And I know it’s been a challenge for military spouses, this move phenomenon — ‘I’d rather not hire this person even though they may be the more qualified because they’re probably gonna have to move somewhere.’ Well, employers are much more comfortable now with realizing we have a whole lot of great employees who were doing their work for home for last year and they were being very productive.”
Alexandria honored its military veterans on Monday in Del Ray, in one of the first public events in the city since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions on Friday.
Mayor Justin Wilson and Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker were among the attendees at Monday afternoon’s event, which was held at the Captain Rocky Versace Plaza and Vietnam Veterans Memorial outside the Mount Vernon Recreation Center.
“Throughout our 272 years of history, Alexandria’s sons and daughters have been called to service in our nation’s defense,” said Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson. “They have spilled blood around the planet in wars and conflicts defending our freedoms and ideals. On Memorial Day, we remember those who did not return from conflict and provided the ultimate sacrifice to our nation. We are eternally grateful.”
This was the first time that the event has been held outside and in person since 2018. Last year’s event was canceled by the pandemic, and the 2019 event was held indoors because of rain.
U.S. Army Capt. Humbert Roque “Rocky” Versace is the sole Alexandrian to win the Medal of Honor, and is among 68 residents who died in the Vietnam War.
Throughout our City’s history, Alexandrians have given their lives in defense of our nation’s security and ideals.
Today, we again gather at the Rocky Versace Memorial to pay tribute to those who did not return. pic.twitter.com/QldHoArQ21
— Justin Wilson (@justindotnet) May 31, 2021
This Memorial Day, APD honors the brave men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country, giving us the freedom we enjoy today.
To honor them, APD family members are doing the challenging "Murph" Workout. #MemorialDay #MurphWorkout
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) May 31, 2021
We're still going! pic.twitter.com/96RtD91HPB
— Alexandria Police (@AlexandriaVAPD) May 31, 2021
Alexandria Restaurant Preps 15,000 Meals for National Guard — “We will be closed today, Saturday January 16th through Thursday, January 21st. Last week, we were honored to be selected to provide meals to the National Guard during inauguration week. Our kitchen will be used to prepare 15,000 meals per day this upcoming week. We will re-open on Friday, January 22nd. We appreciate your continued support!” [Alexandria Living]
City to Host COVID-19 Vaccine Panel Discussion — “The City of Alexandria will co-host a recorded panel of local medical experts, civic leaders and community leaders to answer questions about COVID-19 vaccines. A premiere of the panel discussion will be available online in English, Spanish, Amharic and Arabic at 5 p.m. on January 27.” [City of Alexandria]
Alexandrians Describe Experiences During Capitol Siege — “They ended up gaveling out and Lankford’s staffer ran right up to him and his mic was still hot. He said something like, ‘They’ve gotten in the building.’ At that point, I was like, ‘Woah, what did I just hear?'” [Alex Times]
Alexandria Winter Shelters are Open — “As a reminder, the Winter Shelter is open 7 p.m. – 7 a.m. in two locations: Lee Center (1108 Jefferson St) serves single adults and @CarpentrShelter (930 North Henry St) serves families. Learn more about services: alexandriava.gov/49636.” [Twitter]
17th Annual Alexandria Warehouse Sale Returns Next Month — “The 17th Annual Alexandria Warehouse Sale returns this year in a different format and will take place over two days the weekend of February 6-7, 2021. Deemed in the region the longest-running boutique driven warehouse sale, the popular mid-winter event will convert to a walkable sale and will take place throughout Old Town with nearly 40 independent boutiques participating.” [Visit Alexandria]
Today’s Weather — “Generally sunny despite a few afternoon clouds. High 52F. Winds WSW at 10 to 15 mph… Partly cloudy skies in the evening. Low 33F. Winds W at 5 to 10 mph.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Valet — “We are looking for Valets for our busy Sales and Service departments. Duties include parking and washing/detailing vehicles. Must have a valid driver’s license, a good driving record and be at least 18 years old. Must also be able to drive a manual transmission. Both full time and part time positions available.” [Indeed]
Alexandria Featured in Profiles on Region’s Oldest Homes — “One of the interesting aspects of the Ball-Sellers House is that some of the original roof is protected under a later roof. That’s also the case with the oldest surviving house in Alexandria: 517 Prince St., or what’s known as the Murray-Dick-Fawcett House. The oldest part of the house dates to 1772. There is access to the space between the old roof and the roof that was later built above it at a less-severe pitch.” [Washington Post]
West End Contractor Wins Big Missile System Contract — “The U.S. Navy awarded Alexandria-based Systems Planning and Analysis Inc. (SPA) an $85 million contract to provide technical support for the Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missile system, the company announced this week.” [Virginia Business]
ACPS Food Distribution Closed for Thanksgiving Break — “ACPS food distribution sites will be closed this Wednesday, Nov. 25 and Friday, Nov. 27 for Thanksgiving Break.” [Twitter]
Alexandria Regal Hiring Staff Again — “Floor Staff team members are classified based on individual theatre needs, and/or employee availability, as either variable hour, part-time fixed, part-time regular or full-time hourly employees whose primary responsibility is ensuring our guests receive exceptional service.” [Glassdoor]
George Washington’s River Farm Listed for Sale — “River Farm, the 27-acre property once owned by George Washington that now serves as the headquarters for the American Horticultural Society, was officially listed on the open real estate market at $32.9 million on Nov. 13.” [Alexandria Times]
Staff photo by James Cullum
Bookstore Operator Denies Raiding Little Free Libraries for Stock — “A Nextdoor site dedicated to Del Ray in Alexandria has been roiled by allegations that the operator of a nonprofit used bookstore slated to open next week in Alexandria was visiting Little Free Libraries to obtain stock for his shop.” [Washingtonian]
City Extends Public Feedback Deadline on Accessory Dwelling Units — “The public is invited to watch the City’s latest presentation on ADUs and provide feedback through Aug 19 here. There will be a virtual open house on ADUs scheduled before the Planning Commission and City Counsel hearings this fall.” [Alexandria Living]
Tammy Mann Chosen as Business Leader of the Year by Chamber of Commerce — “The Chamber ALX is thrilled to announce that Dr. Tammy Mann, President & CEO of The Campagna Center, has been selected as the 2020 Business Leader of the Year. She will be honored at the annual Best in Business Awards, presented by Burke & Herbert Bank, on October 1, 2020.” [Alexandria Chamber]
Alexandrian Named 15th Chief of Navy Reserve — “Vice Adm. John B. Mustin relieved Vice Adm. Luke M. McCollum as Chief of Navy Reserve and Commander, Navy Reserve Force, during a change of command ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard, Aug. 7.” [Zebra]
Animal Welfare League Saves Raccoon — “We’re so glad some Alexandria workers spotted this raccoon on top of their truck and waited until our Animal Services Officers arrived so he could be safely returned to the wild. Officer Stanback was able to safely remove the little raccoon and release him after confirming that he hadn’t sustained any injuries.” [Facebook]
Torpedo Factory Hosting Virtual Conversation With Artist — “The events and public space activation team in the Office of the Arts is working with local artist Melanie Kehoss for a mini exhibition in Torpedo Factory Art Center.” [Facebook]
Today’s Weather — “Thunderstorms likely in the morning. Then a chance of scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon. High 82F. Winds ENE at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 80%. Locally heavy rainfall possible.” [Weather.com]
New Job: Construction Manager — “The Construction Manager is directly responsible for managing the safe, efficient and quality production of a team of Outdoor Construction Crews, equipment, materials and workmanship for small and large scale residential projects.” [Indeed.com]
A local addition to the National Defense Authorization Act — a $740 billion bill approved through the House and Senate and headed to the White House — would require the Pentagon to establish a helicopter noise abatement group for the region.
Helicopter noise has long been a local complaint in Alexandria, perhaps second only in overhead noise controversy to sound coming from National Airport.
The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Don Beyer (D) would also require the Pentagon to establish a noise inquiry website based on the DCA’s complaint website.
“Since I took office, complaints about aircraft noise have been one of the most consistent sources of calls to my office,” Beyer said in an email. “We get calls about airplanes on approach and departure to and from DCA, and increasingly about military helicopters across the region, many of which fly in and out of Fort Belvoir. I had a town hall on the issue a few years ago in Fairlington, which has been particularly affected, and it was clear that people wanted ways to track and report noise complaints, and to have a forum for ongoing discussion about ways to mitigate that noise which would include input from the local community.”
While the bill has been approved by both chambers, a threatened veto over changing the names of bases named after Confederate leaders could still keep the helicopter noise solution from moving forward.
“With its adoption in the House we are now on track to get this enacted,” Beyer said. “Given the work that MWAA has already done in some of these areas it just makes sense for the Pentagon to look at what they have done, take what worked well, and make changes in areas that they could improve.”
Flickr pool photo by Jeff Sonderman
New Coworking Space Opening This Spring — “A new co-working space is opening in a historic property that once housed a grocery delivery company… The Loop, a unique, dog-friendly co-working space that will help Alexandria residents ‘Work Better, Be Better, Do Better’ will open in April. The Loop is under construction on North Payne Street in the former Chec Soda & Refrigeration Co. complex.” [Alexandria Living]
Presidents Day Closures in Alexandria — “All City of Alexandria government offices will be closed on Monday, February 17, in observance of George Washington Day.” [City of Alexandria]
AWLA Delivering Pets on V-Day — “Forget roses and chocolates, or even flowers. The new gift is Fido or Felix. This Valentine’s Day, there will be volunteers from the Animal Welfare League in Alexandria delivering rescue pets to their forever homes from noon to 7 p.m.” [Zebra]
Vietnam Vet Speaking at GW Parade Event — “Capt. Eugene ‘Red’ McDaniel (ret.), a Vietnam veteran considered one of the most brutalized prisoners of war during six years of captivity, will be the keynote speaker at the annual Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Association Breakfast Feb. 17 at the Alexandria Westin Hotel.” [Gazette Packet]