DAMARISCOTTA — Texas native Command Sgt. Maj. Gretchen Evans will join Skidompha Public Library for a virtual Chats with Champions at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, to share her personal experience in the military, life after her injuries, and the purpose and passion of Team UNBROKEN, according to a news release from the library.

Evans, one of the most decorated female veterans in U.S. history, began her journey four decades ago when she entered the United States Army at 19 years old. Evans served as an intelligence analyst, then as a counterintelligence agent, before completing Basic Airborne training. She held leadership roles in multiple combat engagements and had several deployments.

According to the release, throughout her 27 years in the service, Evans worked her way up to Command Sergeant Major — the highest rank an enlisted soldier can achieve. In this role, she was responsible for the security and personnel on all bases and forwarding operation bases in Afghanistan and oversaw more than 30,000 ground troops. She earned numerous medals and awards, including the Bronze Star, the Presidential Unit Citation Medal, and Global War on Terrorism ribbons, six Meritorious Service Medals and numerous other awards. She will be inducted into the U.S. Veterans Hall of Fame for her outstanding and meritorious service within the United States Army and in her community.

In 2006, Evans’ world changed in a millisecond when she was severely wounded by incoming fire while serving in Afghanistan. The rocket blast caused her debilitating injuries, including a traumatic brain injury, internal injuries, and the loss of all hearing.

After her combat injury, PTSD diagnosis and subsequent retirement from service, her transition from military life to civilian life was difficult. Her heart was broken and she felt hopeless, not only due to the injuries she sustained but also due to the sudden loss — of family, a team, the fellowship and the mission she had found and loved, the military experience. She found her way into No Barriers Warriors, a life-changing organization that serves veterans with disabilities from all branches of the military and all eras of service. The healing environment restored her confidence, gave her hope and a renewed passion for living life to the fullest.

Today, Evans is determined to pay it forward by focusing her efforts on improving the lives of her fellow veterans by actively serving as a mentor, coach and community activist. She is an ambassador for nonprofit No Barriers USA. She continues to serve as a board member of several veteran-focused organizations and is a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans, Iraq, and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

In 2017, she published her first book, available for purchase online, “Leading from the Front, Lessons by a Command Sergeant Major.” Her story is featured in the 2020 book, “What’s Within You.”

In 2018, Evans co-led a group of youth with mixed abilities on an expedition to Nepal. In August 2020, Evans and her adventure racing team, Team UNBROKEN, were featured in the “World’s Toughest Race” on Amazon Prime. Team UNBROKEN is the first totally disabled team to ever compete in this arduous adventure race. Their desire was to bring awareness that disabilities do not define or limit what is possible with hard work, grit, gumption, and a rope team.

Evans resides in Brunswick with her husband Robert, a Navy veteran and retired associate director of the Charles George VA Medical Center, and their two service dogs, Aura and Rusty. She is an avid hiker, runner, cyclist and reader.

All those wishing to attend this online chat through Zoom can visit Skidompha’s website to sign up at skidompha.org. Those attending will be emailed a link prior to the event.

Chats with Champions is a free community offering from the national award-winning Skidompha Library. This program is  sponsored by Sherman’s Maine Coast Book Shop.

For more information, call the library at 207-563-5513.

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