Brad Vos enjoyed his time in the Navy and attributes his toughness, resiliency and very survival to his military experience. His life has been a series of high-altitude accomplishments and death-defying losses. Yet he maintains an expansive sense of gratitude and a kind and generous heart. And he is learning he still has much to offer others, thanks in part to the services he receives at Quantum Leap Farm, a grateful beneficiary of The Patriot Fund.
Brad received a Congressional nomination to attend the Naval Academy or West Point after graduating from high school. Unfortunately, an earlier splenectomy left him medically disqualified for the Academy. He enlisted in the US Navy after attending the University of Arizona where he studied aerospace engineering for a year. He excelled in boot camp. The Navy provided Brad with training for various positions including Training & Administration of Reserves (TAR), P-3 aircraft electrical O-level maintenance (AE), and Aircrew Search and Rescue Swimmer School (SAR).
Brad was stationed at Whidbey Island where he met and married his first wife. They had two daughters, one with special needs. During this time, Brad was experiencing medical problems of some unknown origin. And he was beginning to feel the stress of balancing his career with family demands. He says he and his wife struggled with alcoholism – she was found to be at fault in an auto accident which resulted in three deaths. They ultimately divorced, and Brad became custodial parent as his wife was determined to be unfit. Brad married again but this marriage, too, was tumultuous. It lasted only a year. His next brand-new relationship started with Brad pleading guilty to two assault felonies. In March of 2003, Brad left the Navy with a general discharge under honorable conditions and disciplinary actions on his record.
Things were spiraling out of control by 2005 when Brad was diagnosed with Common Variable Immunodeficiency Disorder (CVID) caused by an extremely rare auto-immune nonmalignant genetic blood disorder: Nuclear Factor Kappa Beta 1 (NFKB1) haploinsufficiency, a gene defect found in 2019 that resulted in chronic pain and inflammation, severe immunosuppression, multiple hospitalizations, and four near-death experiences between 2005 and 2010. By the time he was 30, Brad was homeless and living on the streets of east Los Angeles. He was forced to relinquish custody of his children to the maternal grandmother in North Carolina. It was an all-time low. Over the next nine years, Brad rallied. He was still plagued by medical issues related to his gene defect. Yet he managed to start an industrial equipment repair business, capitalizing on mechanical skills he learned in the Navy. His business was very successful. But in 2019 his health failed again, causing him to lose the business he’d worked so hard to establish. Brad suffered a series of medical setbacks and was referred to specialty centers around the country. In 2020, he ended up in the Tampa Bay area, referred to an expert allergy/immunologist gene deletion specialist at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Along the two-year journey of multiple hospitalizations/transplant evaluations, medical dependency, and homelessness he had one admission to a local mental hospital for anger, depression, and a history of suicidal ideation. Upon arrival to Gainesville, a contact at a local veterans’ service organization referred him to Quantum Leap Farm.
Brad came to Quantum struggling with his identity and finding purpose in life. He was experiencing feelings of mind-bending isolation. But Brad says the treatments he received at Quantum Leap Farm were no less than life changing. First, he connected with peers fighting similar battles and understood he was not alone in his struggles. Quantum provided Brad with a circle of support and friends he can count on when he needs help, advice or just some companionship. Through equine-assisted therapy, Brad learned to accept himself and understand how living in the present and letting go of the past leads to positive forward momentum, mentally and physically. Finally, through counseling and group discussion, Brad began to appreciate the richness of his experience and how it’s transformed him for the better. He understands he still has much to offer and is learning that helping others gives him a sense of purpose. He says Quantum Leap Farm has armed him for battles he knows are ahead. Brad is currently awaiting a bone marrow transplant and is volunteering at multiple Veterans’ service organizations.