Every life has value and must be preserved, nurtured and celebrated to its greatest potential.

OneLifeWarrior advocates an unapologetic approach to living through Health Awareness and Risk Reduction in overcoming the challenges of life. It is our goal to create a living OneLifeWarrior metaphor of Resiliency and to inspire all Warriors to take the initiative in determining the course of their lives regardless of the adversity that lay before them.

OneLifeWarrior is founded as a multi-year campaign to foster Resiliency in service members, families and in America’s citizens. The OneLifeWarrior Campaign is dedicated to developing a Warrior spirit in everyone. Being a Warrior means combining physical and mental toughness with assuming responsibility for one's actions. “One Life” seeks to raise the national conscience on issues of individual and family wellness programming and long-term care for veterans. The Resiliency Run is the annual demonstration of our commitment to the ideals of the OneLifeWarrior Campaign.


OneLife News:

The Spring After

The changing of the seasons in Maine are always a very distinct transition. Spring comes through the senses as the sun bakes dirty snow banks and the bare spots give up their frost. You feel it, smell it, touch it and taste this prelude to the explosion of life that the winter’s reluctant retreat brings. Soon, pussy willow buds, green grass, lilacs swaying in the wind, followed by barn swallows and the spring geese.

But always, since the spring after 2009, the mud season brings me back to Springdale Farm in Burnham, Maine and the soft countenance of its former owner, Jeff Barnes. He was a good man, father and neighbor, often mentioned in my postings as he represents so much of what is good in the world. I have returned to his subject matter in that despite my decades long friendship, have learned more about his final days in the past year than all the understanding that lead to his decision to end his life leading to that fatal Saturday morning.

As a veteran, Jeff suffered for three decades from depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD from an injury he received years earlier. Then, a motorcycle accident delivered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) that stripped him of the resilience that had preserved his life through the many dark winters before that spring. Having suffered my own TBI in the past year, and made friends who have been forced to endure the same travails, I now fully understand the path that Jeff walked in the final six months of his life that placed him on his knees in his front lawn with a .22 caliber pistol against his temple.

Those who have trod this lonely path, and only those, can truly understand the social isolation, darkness, frustration, pain, confusion, despair and unrelenting sadness that inexplicably consume a survivor. There is a quiet desperation that sits in your heart and gnaws at your soul with only fleeting moments of anxiety-ridden relief. Jeff’s anger, cruelty, rage…most often directed at those who loved and helped him the most was ultimately to create the space necessary to greet the specter of peace. We know from the outside perspective that suicide is a liar, a coward and a thief, but for those with broken hearts, broken heads and a soul void of hope, it offers the illusion of peace…a false end to the pain.

I, too, have laid alone in the darkness with this loathsome specter patiently skulking in the dark periphery of my life…only to be saved by the sleepy signs of my children coming through the wall to my ear. Life, above all, carries hope.

But in the spring of 2009, Springdale Farm lost its farmer and we lost a friend, a father, a neighbor as we try still to reconcile the vacuous space he left behind. The farm carried on with its lilacs, swallows, quaking aspen and lush green fields. The boards cracked and the paint pealed as nature reclaimed its own, no less beautiful.

So, on this day of Palm Sunday, a candle burns at the altar in the Basilica for my friend and neighbor, Jeff. And for him, I write this song entitled “The Spring After.” For now, I understand his decision all the more, and grieve his loss still, but pledge to live on for both of us.

The Spring After
Words and Music by Jack Mosher

The grass is growing green on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
And the lilacs they’re a bloomin on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
But the paint, she’s a peelin,
And there’s a hole in the porch floor,
Cause Jeff Barnes don’t live there anymore.

The alders they’re a creepin on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
They creep into the meadow on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
He needs to cut them back,
Like he did the spring before,
But Jeff Barnes don’t live there anymore.

What’s a farm without a farmer
And no one to run the store?
He left us all behind
To walk on yonder shore.
Jeff went to meet The Father
In His arms forever more.
Now Jeff Barnes don’t live there,
No, he just don’t live there,
Jeff just don’t live there anymore.

The pastures are all empty on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
And the plows are gettin rusty on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
The barn is cold and lonely,
Though his coat hangs by the door,
And Jeff Barnes don’t live there anymore.

The geese have returned to Jeff Barnes’ farm.
And the swallows build their nests on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
There’s a spot there in the yard,
Where he done his final chore.
Now Jeff Barnes don’t live there anymore.

What’s a farm without a farmer
And no one to run the store?
He left us all behind
To walk on yonder shore.
Jeff went to meet The Father
In His arms forever more.
Now Jeff Barnes don’t live there,
No, he just don’t live there,
Jeff just don’t live there anymore.

The darkness finally fell on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
And the sadness overtook him on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
It was forty years after,
He come home from the war.
Now Jeff Barnes don’t live there anymore.

There’s a space that’s left behind on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
A hole left in our hearts on Jeff Barnes’ farm.
He cleaned his house and yard,
Left the keys there in the door.
Now Jeff Barnes don’t live there anymore.

What’s a farm without a farmer
And no one to run the store?
He left us all behind
To walk on yonder shore.
Jeff went to meet The Father
In His arms forever more.
Now Jeff Barnes don’t live there,
No, he just don’t live there,
Jeff just don’t live there anymore.

God bless you, OneLife Warriors…keep running, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

A Visit from Carol

While laughing with my children at the dinner table last night, I saw in the soft lines of their faces, their mother’s eyes smiling back at me. As they have grown older and their childish features have faded, the bridge of their noses and gentle brows have matured to resemble Carol’s classic Italian characteristics. The sparkle of their eyes and belly roll laughter brought her home to our table for just a flash of familiarity that settled on my soul like a soft snow at midnight.

Until next time, dear, sleep well.

God bless you, OneLife Warriors…keep running and I’ll see you tomorrow.

An Open Door in the Snow

Driving through the abandoned streets of the North End, Boston only hours after yet another massive snow storm left the city looking like a frozen walking dead episode. I had been in four wheel drive since leaving my house in China, Maine four hours earlier. Even though the fury of the storm had passed, the streetlights over Hanover Street still illuminated the last breath of falling snow and the wind formed drifts filling even the single center lane exhausted road crews had managed to punch through hours earlier.

My snowy drive from Maine had been contemplative and tenuous as I dodged plow trucks and 18 wheelers down Interstate 95 and Route 1. No radio. Just thoughts of my military career and trying hard to remember the faces of those who I had lost along the way. A rosary hung from the rear view mirror as I have gotten in the habit of praying during travel time and somewhere between Portsmouth and Charlestown, I decided to go to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross deep in the “bad part” of South Boston to seek peace from the sadness that consumed me. After setting my GPS to 1400 Washington Street, Boston, Mass, I began to churn through the maze of one way side streets and snow bank obstacles of buried cars.

Finally, I intersected Washington Street and looming before me were the massive stone towers of the 19th Century cathedral. I parked by backing my truck into an embankment just enough to all ill-tempered plow drivers to continue their work wrapped my scarf tightly and placed the rosary in my overcoat pocket. I exited the vehicle to realize that there was no sidewalk and walked instead down the main road to the front steps of the main entrance. There were no foot prints in any of the buried stone staircases leading to the heavy wooden doors, but I pressed on in thigh deep drifts to each of the four doors only do discover that each was locked tight. The snow had drifted three or four feet deep against the doors making them immoveable even if unlocked….a fate that proved consistent with each successive perimeter door tested. Again and again, I trudged to ascend each entrance to be denied by locked and buried doorways from the requiem that awaited me beyond the darkened stained glass windows.

At long last, I discovered a tunnel near an exterior maintenance shed at the far courtyard of the church that had been shoveled by perhaps a boiler operator or maintenance worker. When I pulled on the ring of the door, it moved. Again, I pulled, putting my weight into it and it breeched the snow enough for me to squeeze into the dark hallway beyond. I was met with the musty dankness of a 150 year old granite block basement and felt my way along the wall to the hiss and ping of steam vent pipes until I came to another door at the end of this passage that yielded light from the room beyond. Again I pulled on the door and it swung open with ease to reveal small chapel and altar fully illuminated. I passed through, then down another hallway, up a creaky wooden staircase, to another hallway, to another locked door which I bypassed through another hallway. Finally, I emerged into the main chamber of the Cathedral as a massive and unlit vacuous space. Despite the darkness, the altar glowed in gold at end of the main isle and beyond the sea of pews. It was silent, save the wind howling through the buttresses outside and warm enough for me to remove my gloves and the rosary from my pocket. I dipped my hand into the holy water basin, removed my hat to cross myself then walked to the front pew, left, and knelt to pray, completely alone in the peace of my refuge.

I prayed for peace, forgiveness, and for Captain John Hallett and his family, Carol, Mark and Mark, Josh, Stoney, Rosie, Nana, and the many other friends that await us on yonder shore. I was thankful also for the protection of the Lord and the recovery I have experienced. I prayed for the Lord to guide my steps and rejoiced in His mercy for all that I have done or failed to do.

The novelty of this peaceful moment in such a revered setting, to experience in solace, was the just reward of persistence and audacity in finding an [the] open door. Such is the way of life in demonstrating resilience to find the path that leads to an open door and despite the bitter cold, wind and rejection of barriers, having the courage to pass through to the reward therein.

Take your peace, my friends, and blessing to the fallen of my prayers. Pull hard on the barriers to find an open door in the snow in your lives and do not be deterred. Eat richly at the table of life, for you have well-earned your setting and portions.

God bless you, OneLife Warriors…keep running, and I’ll see you tomorrow.

Audie Murphy’s Vision of America

In 1948, the most decorated soldier in American History returned to France where he had been awarded nearly every valor device including the Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Stars, Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts….he recorded the following reflection as he entered the courtyard of a small village school that had been liberated by his unit among fierce fighting only a few years earlier…

“In 1948, I returned to France at the invitation of French Government. It was still a war-ravaged country … but this time there was something different. It wasn’t the absence of fighting, nor the silence of the big guns, nor the disappearance of uniforms and chow lines … I didn’t know what it was until one morning when I was taken to the grounds of a small French school. The children had been assembled in the play yard. They were grouped close together and arranged in wobbly little rows, their dark heads bobbing around like flower buds on long stems. One of the teachers rapped for silence. The kids quieted immediately and turned their eyes towards her. Their Faces were scrubbed and bright in the sunshine. The teacher raised her arms, and for a moment, there was no sound … Then the teacher brought her arms down and the kids began to sing … I Knew why I felt at home. The spirit of freedom was hovering over that play yard as it did all over France at that time. A country was free again. A people had recovered their independence and their children were grateful. They were singing in French, but the melody was freedom and any American could understand that. America, at that moment, never meant more to me … The true meaning of America, you ask? It’s in a Texas rodeo, in a policeman’s badge, in the sound of laughing children, in a political rally, in a newspaper… In all these things, and many more, you’ll find America. In all these things, you’ll find freedom. And freedom is what America means to the world. And to me.” – Audie Murphy

Despite what you may watch in the news and on television…I still believe in Audie Murphy’s vision of America…more now than ever.

God bless you OneLife Warriors….keep running, and I’ll see you tomorrow!

To My Fellow Veterans…

Sonnet VII

I’m writing this without my glasses, so you will forgive me for any typos…I think you will understand, ragardless. Before I left for work this morning, I happened to catch a few minutes of a movie that my children were finishing from the night before and a sonnet recited beautifully from Robin Williams’ character resontated with me in capturing my innate affection for all fellow veterans. I hope you will enjoy it and undestand its wisdom in describing both you as a veteran, and the common bond we all share.

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

- Pablo Neruda

God bless you, OneLIfe Warriors…keep running, and I’ll see you tomorrow!!