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From Korengal to the kitchen: vet of the year shines spotlight on those who served.

Like many veterans, the transition from military to civilian life brought numerous unforeseen challenges for DAV's 2015 Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year, Robbie Myers. In 2012, the husband and father of five (with a sixth on the way) was medically discharged from the Army. His family returned home from Germany with little income and nowhere to turn. Myers found himself essentially homeless, living in a tent while his wife and children stayed with family.

All that changed when he was selected to compete on the "Military Salute" episode of the Food Networks "Chopped," going head-to-head against three other military cooks. He swept the competition, claiming the title of Chopped Champion and highlighting veterans' struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder when featured on the show's championship round.

Myers had served as a cook in the Army and came home after two combat tours in Afghanistan--one of them in the storied Korengal Valley--carrying the symptoms of a traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Though his outlook seemed bleak at times, life began to change once he decided to seek help.

"Robbie was courageous enough to seek help when he needed it, which is certainly not easy to do," said National Commander Ron Hope. "He's shown great strength along his road to recovery, as well as a deep commitment to caring for his fellow veterans."

Myers, who now lives with his family in a small town in upstate New York, said he was humbled by his nomination for Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year.

"When [Commander Hope] called me and told me, I was just thrown back, extremely honored by the fact that I even went through that process and was selected," said Myers. "I hope I can represent as well as some of the past recipients of this award."

Myers topped the culinary competition and is now hosting his own cooking show called "Come and Get It."

Myers, along with the show's producers, is dedicated to maintaining an all-veteran cast and crew.

"You don't hear the good stories about veterans; you always hear the bad ones. Or, you hear the struggles and you don't hear those victories," said Myers. "We want to hire veterans--as many veterans as we can--and put veterans on the map for the good."

A majority of the proceeds from Myers' show will benefit veterans' organizations, with an emphasis on addressing PTSD and employment issues for veterans returning home from combat.

"A lot of these men and women who have served are homeless or unable to work, and it's a shame because they are literally some of the best people you can bring into your business to work for you--some of the most loyal and dedicated people you'll ever come across," said Myers. "I think that's another part of why we're doing the show, to get rid of that stigma. We're really backing just getting as many veterans on the team that's going to be part of filming the show."

"The story of Robbie and his family proves that when you provide the right support to our veterans, they will thrive," said National Adjutant Marc Burgess. "We're thrilled to see someone as talented and dedicated as he is bringing veterans' issues to light on a national scale. It's really a testament to his character and his devotion to his fellow veterans, and we're exceptionally proud to recognize him for all he does for this community."

Myers, whose dedication to his fellow veterans goes far beyond the battlefield, said he believes DAV's mission is what it's all about.

"Keep doing what you're doing--the absolute best people to take care of veterans are veterans," Myers said. "What you have done as an organization as a whole has probably saved and helped countless amounts of lives of our fellow veterans. I think that we owe it to each other to look out for each other, and I think DAV is doing a hell of a job."
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Title Annotation:Robbie Myers
Author:Byrnes, Ashleigh
Publication:DAV Magazine
Article Type:Cover story
Date:Jul 1, 2015
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