John Kriesel's Story
As Told By: Jim Kosmo
Standing up to bullies is never easy, especially when you lose your legs. Bullies whether on the battlefield, in the state legislature, or in the court of public opinion, never deter John Kriesel from defending the rights of others, even when his voice is alone in a crowd.
In 2006 Kriesel was nearly blown to shreds by a 200 pound roadside bomb in Iraq. He died three times and was shocked back to life. Somehow he survived through four hospitals, 35 surgeries and months of recovery. He lost both legs and suffered numerous other major injuries, but it was the loss of two close friends that hurt the most. Doctors said he probably would never walk again. He walks. Political pundits laughed when he ran for the Minnesota Legislature as a Republican in a district that had never elected one. He won.
John is the first to say that it takes no special skill to get blown up by a roadside bomb and he asserts that he is no hero. Kriesel’s heroics came later as he fought to live, walk and build a life for his family. Five years after the battlefield explosion he turned his tragedy into a platform to help others. Even at work he devotes his time to caring for others as director of veterans services for Anoka County. Guiding returning Iraq and Afghanistan war vets through the VA system is one thing, but Kriesel pushes his staff to search out Vietnam veterans and others who he feels have been neglected for decades.
Working with John Kriesel afforded me the privilege of telling his inspirational story into a book, “Still Standing: The Story of SSG John Kriesel.” Now in its sixth printing, Still Standing has captured eight national book awards and remains in the top five percent of book and eBook sales after more than five years. If Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was writing his incredibly popular book, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” today he would need to add a separate chapter on John Kriesel.
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