Local

November 2, 2012

Disabled retiree has story of courage, rebirth

David Berling, 56th Contracting Squadron contracting officer and retired U.S. Air Force captain, was invited by Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein, 56th Fighter Wing commander, to speak at the National Disability Employment Awareness Month luncheon. The luncheon marked the 64th year that the United States celebrates employment opportunities for people with disabilities. This year’s theme was A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce.

We hear of people who suffer horrific injuries and come back to lead productive lives.

One such person who survived this type of injuries is former Air Force Capt. David Berling. He is currently a civilian contract specialist with the 56th Contracting Squadron. He served in the same position on active-duty at Luke Air Force Base from 2003 to 2006. Berling was medically retired from the Air Force in 2009.

The 56th Fighter Wing sponsored a luncheon in conjunction with National Disability Employment Awareness Month. Berling was invited by Brig. Gen. Michael Rothstein, 56th FW commander, to be the guest speaker. The luncheon was, in part, the marking of the 64th year that the United States celebrates employment opportunities for people with disabilities. This year’s theme is A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce.

The fact that Berling is alive is a miracle and story of profound courage.

His world was turned upside down April 29, 2007, while stationed at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. He had taken a flight on a private airplane that crashed in Athens, Calif. Berling suffered numerous injuries, which included a traumatic brain injury, chipped vertebrae, broken jaw, eight broken teeth, bruised lungs and kidneys, a lacerated spleen and liver, and broken femurs.

The road to recovery was a long and tedious one that involved long hospital stays and numerous surgeries.

Berling said he has had 28 surgeries and a hospital inpatient stay of more than two months.

“I was rushed to Harbor UCLA Medical Center, where I underwent life-saving surgery to amputate both of my legs through the knees because following the crash, my lower legs bones were broken into numerous pieces, and I was bleeding to death,” he recalled. “I was transferred to Naval Medical Center, San Diego, after five days, where I remained an inpatient for more than two months and in rehabilitation for another year.”

A person’s outlook on life can profoundly change after a catastrophic accident of this type. One can choose to have a negative, hopeless outlook or realize while life may not be the same, with adjustments, it can still be productive and good.

Berling has refused to let this experience make him gloomy.

“First, I refuse to let my accident define who I am,” he said. “I can still do everything I want to in life. I had to learn a new way to do it. Secondly, I was extremely lucky. The outcome could have been much worse, especially when I look at the photos of the accident.”

More than that, Berling said that the doctors wanted to amputate his right arm, but his living will stated that if he lost three limbs, he didn’t want to live. The arm didn’t work for more than two months, but with a lot of rehabilitation, he now uses his right arm despite a few minor problems.

Berling used his speech at the luncheon to stress that the workforce will be going through profound changes.

“The workforce will be changing due to the wars of the past 10 years,” he said. “There will be approximately 50,000 people who have suffered injuries, which include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, loss of limbs, vision and hearing. These people will be rejoining the labor force, and we need to spearhead the initiative to work with and hire the disabled. These disabled individuals have worked hard to rejoin the workforce and are highly motivated to succeed.”

Besides a full day at work, Berling has an arduous regiment of staying fit. He said he lifts weights every other day and on nonlifting days he hand cycles nearly eight miles. Also, he said he likes to go shooting and has gone back to flying airplanes.

“My physical fitness is paramount to living a mobile life because walking with prosthetics from bilateral above-knee amputations takes 280 percent more energy than what the average nondisabled person uses to walk,” he said.

Berling has authored a book, which will be in bookstores in late November or early December. Additional information on the accident and the book can be obtained by going to Berling’s website at www.theberlingdream.com or his Facebook page at Facebook.com/theberlingdream.

Berling said he is not a hero and is philosophical about the accident and his life.

“I wouldn’t change my life even if I could,” he said. “Experiences shape who we are, and I feel I’m a better person for having gone through this experience. I’ve been given a second chance at life, and I’m going to make the most of it.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Luke welcomes Nurse Advice Line

Remember that moment? The moment you thought you had something medically wrong with you but didn’t know exactly what it was? After a few Web searches, you find yourself on WebMD and are questioning whether you have the least worrying of possible diagnoses or the worst — cancer or even death. To help patients save...
 
 
141020-SMSgt-Shelly-Bailey-8x10-DW

Path to inspirational leadership evolving skillset

Senior Master Sgt. Shelly Bailey At some point in our Air Force career we will assume a leadership role. Leadership is an ever-evolving skillset that you will continue to develop throughout the course of your career. The highes...
 
 

Bridges: build, don’t burn

Have you heard the phrase “don’t burn your bridges?” This idiom is used to describe the importance of not ending a relationship on a bad note. In this case, the relationship is your military career. For example, when you build professional relationships you are networking or laying the foundation for the building of a bridge....
 

 
141008-F-HT977-005

Unaccompanied housing to be upgraded

Funds have arrived from Air Education and Training Command for unaccompanied housing to use to take care of Airmen in the dorms, from reconstruction of dorms to fixing a door knob. “With these funds we are able to maintain do...
 
 

News Briefs October 24, 2014

Notice to claimants In accordance with Air Force Instruction 34-511, paragraph 3.1.5, notice is hereby given that Airman 1st Class Wheeler Nichols is deceased. The undersigned has been appointed summary court officer for the purpose of estate settlement in accordance with AFI 34-511. All persons having claims for or against the estate should call Lt....
 
 
Senior Airman Grace Lee

New honorary commanders inducted

Senior Airman Grace Lee Honorary commanders chat with Luke Air Force Base leaders Oct. 17 during social hour in Hangar 431 at Luke Air Force Base prior to their official induction ceremony. The honorary commander program partne...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin